Friday, May 8, 2015

Will Israel be governed by a new ‘ism’?

Israel is unique. It’s the only Jewish state in the world. That means it’s also the only nation in the world that’s democratic, Jewish and free-market.

Today this unique Israel faces a challenge. It’s a challenge that focuses on its Jewish nature.

Israel today is governed primarily by those who believe in democracy, equality and social justice. It’s governed, in other words, by liberalism.

Liberalism in modern Israel means more than equal rights. It means hostility to Judaism and Jewishness. It sees Jewishness as a hindrance to democracy. It sees Judaism as fascism, the arch enemy of democracy.

There’s a counter-push against this liberalism. That counter-push comes from a decades-long revival of Judaism-and-Zionism in Israel.

Perhaps that revival has reached a critical mass. As more Jews in Israel turn to both religion and politics, they seek a greater say in how Israel is governed. The power of those who believe in G-d, the Jewishness of Israel and the land of Israel grows.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may know that. In the waning days of the election campaign just past (March 2015), when it looked like Likud would lose to Labor-Hatnua, Mr Netanyahu acted to save his candidacy. But he didn’t turn to Likud members. He didn’t appeal to long-time supporters. He didn’t turn to liberals or centrists.

Instead, he appeared to turn explicitly to religious-Zionist Jews. He wanted their votes. He seemed clearly to believe he could win with those votes.

He spoke, more than once in the last days of the campaign, about G-d. His references to G-d were indeed brief. But they were there. He mentioned G-d’s name.

G-d’s name is very powerful. It terrifies politicians. We know that to be true because most all of Israel’s leaders and wannabee-leaders never, ever, say G-d’s name in public.

Especially during the two last decades—during a time when Israel has been increasingly demonized--our leaders have rarely dared to say G-d’s name. Since Oslo, politicians who won national elections generally didn’t mention ‘G-d’. Perhaps they believed they’d lose if they did.  

Netanyahu mentioned ‘G-d’. He also spoke of defending Jewish Israel. He asked voters to support him.

If Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned G-d’s name and talked about Jewish Israel during a political campaign, you can be sure he wasn’t talking to liberals, communists or ‘democracy’ advocates. He was talking to religious Zionists. He was asking for their vote.

He got those votes. Most important, he won with those votes. He won big (Linda Gradstein, “Polls get it wrong as Netanyahu wins big”, Jewish Journal, March 18, 2015).

The words Netanyahu used to win could mean something new for Israel: a new-found ballot-box power of Jews who believe in G-d and in the land of Israel. That ballot-box power could mean political change for Israel.

The change we speak about focuses on G-d, the land and on the Jewishness of Israel. Liberalism passionately opposes each of these concepts.  Therefore, if there’s going to be change, it’s a change that could be revolutionary.

It will be revolutionary. It’ll be the revolution that changes the ‘ism’ that rules Israel.

Today, liberalism rules. Since Oslo, that liberalism has been responsible for provoking international condemnations and demonization.

If Israel were ruled by Jews who understood the bond that exists between G-d, the land of Israel and the Jewish people, they wouldn’t play games with the world. They wouldn’t say, ‘yes’ to a two-state solution and then stall or go back-and-forth. They’d say, ‘Israel belongs to G-d. G-d has chosen this land—from the river to the sea—for the Jewish people. G-d exiled us from this land. He promised to return us. He has returned us. Our Tanach—your ‘Old Testament’--is our deed. That deed dates back more than 3,000 years. We understand you may not like to hear these words. If you have a problem, please feel free to contact G-d directly.’

There is evidence to suggest that many in the world would respect that answer far more than they have respected the ambiguous liberal-laden language they have heard from Israel over the last twenty-plus years. Many in the world still remember their Bible lessons. They know about G-d, the Jews and the Jewish land.

What will come after Israel’s liberalism? My bet is, Judaism—and Zionism.


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