By the rivers of Babylon there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion – Psalm 137
We are all standing at the brink of a widening chasm staring into an abyss, witness to the unfolding scenario of the destruction of our beloved Israel. Will the bravery, triumph, heroism, and tragedy of the struggle to create and protect the State of Israel all soon have been for naught? And weren’t we just a year ago at the peak of achievement? The soaring hi-tech dominated economy, the strongest army in the region, growing normalization with the Arab world, one of the happiest nations on the planet.
The judicial reform was only the trigger, the catalyst, in reaction to which a rift, greater than we even imagined, quickly widened. And with time, the rift has grown even greater while both sides become more and more convinced that they are right and ever more willing, it seems, to sacrifice the country on the altar of their self-assured, self-confident righteousness. Our enemies gleefully sharpen their swords while the IDF finds itself at risk of losing its readiness and its power to deter. And our vaunted Start-Up Nation is already facing the departure of major enterprises and significantly reduced investment. Institutional investors have already transferred about $30 billion outside of Israel.
Israel will die with a whimper of attrition
The end, if we continue this path, is likely to come about not with a bang but with a whimper of attrition as those with marketable skills or foreign passports seek calmer shores. This includes the young and those who make up the hi-tech ecosystem, from food tech innovation in Kiryat Shmona to the technology accelerator in Yeruham, as well as doctors and other professionals. Once such an exodus begins, it will be very difficult to stop. If, as a result, our economy collapses and the health system already under-budgeted breaks down completely, the numbers who will leave, sadly for most of them, will only increase. Remaining will be those who can’t leave or the intrepid “knights of infinite faith.” The latter will include those who believe that God will not abandon them, that the Third Commonwealth will not fall or, if it does, that they will serve as the first generation of guardians of the land awaiting the final redemption. Even if the wait is 2,000 years or if this, the Third Commonwealth, will have been the last, and the hope of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel is forever lost.
And then by what rivers will we sit and weep, unable to sing of Zion in a strange land? Or perhaps we will sing of Zion as we mark the day of such hope and rejoicing when the State of Israel was declared, succeeding against all odds to defeat the determined enemies on all our borders. And we will sing “Jerusalem of Gold,” remembering that unbelievable day in June 1967 when Israeli soldiers stood in awe at the liberated Western Wall, and the flag of the Jewish nation rose above the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount for the first time in 2,000 years.
There are but three or four people in this country who can stop the terrible march of folly and begin the monumental task of healing; in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “to bind up the nation’s wounds.” Either these few people will rise to the task or all of us will fall together with them into the abyss, and history will judge them. Can we hope at least that just as quickly as things have become so perilous so too just as quickly they will turn around? ■
The author is head of planning at the Mandel Foundation-Israel and vice president of Atid EDI and lives in Efrat.