Encountering Peace: Longing for a leader we can be proud of

I long for leaders who, even if I disagree with their political positions, represent ideas and values that inspired me to make Israel my home and to raise me children here.

Benjamin Netanyahu  (photo credit: REUTERS)
Benjamin Netanyahu
(photo credit: REUTERS)
There are, without doubt, many remarkable achievements for the State of Israel to be proud of. Like many others, as I drive around the country (undoubtedly stuck in traffic) I dream about being Herzl’s tour guide, or escorting Ben-Gurion around the country and listening to their reactions as they see all that has developed and been achieved over the past 70 years.
My love of Israel stems from my desire to be part of the dream and reality of building a homeland for the Jewish People. My Zionism grew up on the roots planted many years ago in the Zionist youth movement Young Judaea in the United States. In my youth I was inspired by the idea that Jewish suffering and dispersion among the nations of the world formed the foundations of prophetic values of justice and equality on which my Zionism was based.
I was taught that making aliya is not simply a change of address, but more so a change of essence. Putting my lot with the Jewish People in our very own nationstate brought me to devote my life to contributing to making the State of Israel into the exemplary state that leaders such as Herzl, Ben-Gurion, Nahum Goldmann, Lova Eliav, Yossi Sarid, Shulamit Aloni and others spoke about and worked for.
These days as I watch the news and read the papers I feel ashamed of what has become of our leaders. I don’t know if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has violated the law and I hope that our justice system gets to the bottom of all of the scandals being investigated. There have apparently been severe acts of crime committed by people very close to the highest ranking leaders in this country. It is totally appalling.
Their criminal actions dealing with the most sensitive aspects of our national security should shake the very foundations on which our public life is built.
The behavior of our prime minister, criminal or not, is unacceptable and it is time for him to end his public life and enable us to get back to the business of building our country and our society. The distorted values represented by the receipt of gifts worth thousands and perhaps hundreds of thousands, and perhaps even more, by a public servant, by the prime minister, is totally unacceptable and immoral. The manipulation of the media, as so clearly documented now by the prime minister, distorts democracy and public service.
The incitement against whole sectors of the population by the prime minister – the media, the Left, the Arab citizens of Israel, makes Netanyahu unqualified to serve as prime minister of all of us.
It was Netanyahu himself who said that the term of office of the prime minister should be limited to two terms. He himself said that if you can’t implement your agenda in eight years, you won’t succeed beyond that either. It is true that I want the regime in Israel to move from the Right to the Left and I hope that in the next elections we end up with a Center-Left coalition.
Netanyahu’s resignation can leave the current right wing in power and there are others in the Likud with higher standards and values who could replace Netanyahu.
But Netanyahu cannot stay any longer. It is time to clean house, to refresh our values, to return to modesty, to have a leader with integrity. This call should come from the house of Jabotinsky, Bader, Meridor, Arens and Begin – from the center of the Likud and not just from the Left. Netanyahu’s behavior is a stain on the legacy of Herut and the revisionists. His behavior and corrupt morals are a disgrace to this country and for what we should stand for.
I long for leaders who, even if I disagree with their political positions, represent ideas and values that inspired me to make Israel my home and to raise me children here. I don’t want cigar-smoking, champagne-guzzling, yacht-riding, private plane-jetting, Caesaria villa-residing leaders with their cynical and paranoid worldview.
Israel deserves and needs leaders who can plant the dream of excellence, who live modestly and seek equality for all citizens, with the highest standards in our education systems, with the best health and welfare systems in the world.
The start-up nation needs a restart, which will only come when we see Netanyahu exiting the house on Balfour Street. I wish him well – may he have all of the fortunes of the world, may he smoke the very best Cubans and may he and his wife drink the very best pink French champagne – but not as our leader and not on our tab.
It’s time to feel pride in our leaders again.
The author is the founder and co-chairman of IPCRI, Israel Palestine Creative Regional Initiatives www.ipcri.org.