Israel will thrive regardless of the election results

Israel survives and thrives despite its leadership and not because of it.

‘ISRAEL’S LEADERS are not the ones who make this country tick. Rather, it is the state’s incredible people. Israelis.’  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
‘ISRAEL’S LEADERS are not the ones who make this country tick. Rather, it is the state’s incredible people. Israelis.’
‘We are doomed.”
“Israel is now run by weak leftists and will be destroyed.”
“The fascist Right will now bring about the end of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”
“The Zionist dream has come to an end.”
We will hear these words on April 10 – from whichever side of the political debate is unhappy with the election results.
But I have news for you: It is simply not true.
From my perspective – having served in the Knesset but now out of the political arena for close to a year – I can say with absolute clarity that Israel survives and thrives despite its leadership and not because of it.
When candidates speak in strong terminology against their opponents and use the types of phrases that I quoted above, ignore them. Election campaigns are a crazy time for candidates. All they think about day and night is winning. And when one is in the non-stop vacuum of a campaign, you think and say things that do not reflect the overall reality – or even your actual opinions. The hyperbole used by candidates that is then picked up by their supporters should be ignored.
Yes, there are leaders who are more in line with my ideology whom I view as better leaders – and someone who disagrees with my ideologies will think that the opposite is true. Elections can create an Israel that is not the way I want it to be. That is true. But to lead to Israel’s destruction, or the end of the dream of the country’s founding fathers? Impossible.
First, experience has shown that Israel’s leaders are not the ones who make this country tick. Rather, it is the state’s incredible people: Israelis.
The Knesset meets every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday while in session. Thursday is set aside for MKs to travel around Israel to meet with municipal leaders and organizations to see how they can be of help from the Knesset. I recall numerous times when, after three marathon days in the Knesset, I would visit an organization and on the way home, turn to my staff and say, “These people are doing more for Israel on a day-to-day basis than I am doing in the Knesset.”
Israelis like Noach Braun, who founded the Israel Guide Center for the Blind; Kalman Samuels, who established Shalva; Sivan Yaari of Innovation Africa; Dr. Ami Cohen of Save a Child’s Heart; the founders and volunteers for the many organizations that help Holocaust survivors and combat poverty; the founders and leader of Or Yarok who fight for traffic safety and better roads; the incredibly dedicated warriors for Israel in organizations such as StandwithUs, Palestinian Media Watch, Jerusalem U, NGO Monitor, and Honest Reporting, where I work. The list goes on and on.
These are the people who wake up every day, and, without playing politics, simply address the country’s needs regarding health, the economy, fighting poverty, advocating for Israel and helping Israel be a true light unto the nations – and they will continue doing their good work regardless of who leads the country.
BUT THERE is a second and deeper reason why the doomsday statements and scenarios do not reflect reality. For 2,000 years our ancestors read and believed prophecies in the Bible that were simply ludicrous. Ingathering of the exiles? We were a persecuted people scattered around the world. How could we ever come back from the “four corners of the Earth,” as the Bible describes it?
But we have! We don’t have to “believe” the prophecies about this any longer – they are coming true right before our eyes, seeing Jews who have come home from all around the world.
The flourishing of the land? Impossible. For 2,000 years, the Land of Israel was a wasteland where nothing could grow. The greatest conquerors tried to build in this land and failed miserably because nothing would grow – as the Bible says, “I will make the land desolate” (Leviticus 26:32) while the Jews are in exile. How could we ever turn this desolate region into a “garden of the Lord” as the Bible (Isaiah 51:3) predicts would happen upon our return?
But it has! We no longer have to believe in the prophecies about regrowth in this land. To see the truth, we just have to look out the window or go for a walk and see the beautiful trees and blooming flowers, which could not have grown in Israel a mere 100 years ago.
It is clear that there are forces at work in Israel today that are beyond our comprehension. Yes, we need people to run the country. And we need leaders to make very difficult security and diplomatic decisions. But regardless of who makes what decisions, and what impact – at times catastrophic – they have on people, families, and even communities, Israel will continue onward as a strong, Zionistic, Jewish and democratic state – because of the country’s citizens, and because we are living in a special and blessed time.
So, when we see the election results, let’s all take a step back and remember that our great-great-great grandparents would have moved mountains and given up anything to spend just a few years living in the Land of Israel – whether under right-wing or left-wing governments. They would have appreciated this dream-blessing afforded them, regardless of who would be prime minister.
If there was something which they didn’t like about the country’s direction, they would not have simply complained about it. They would have said, “I cannot believe I am fortunate enough to live in Israel – I am going to roll up my sleeves to try to make the country better.”
That is the quote that I hope to hear throughout Israel on April 10.
The author served as a member of the 19th Knesset and is senior manager of community outreach for Honest Reporting.