In looking at the current coalition, we must ask ourselves: does Israel get the leaders it deserves? For an ancient people founded on the republican principles of individualism, community, and ethical responsibility, leadership from the Jewish perspective has always flowed upwards, from the people. While the people are supposed to be the power behind the throne, Israel’s democracy has become filled with willing subjects. In the end, the blame lies with the public which has abdicated its duty – to be comprised of active citizens and advocates for a better nation that doggedly participate in their community and politic. Until such an innervated citizenry arises, Israel will continue to produce the leaders that reflect their own abdication and take advantage of the power vacuum, governing ad hoc on the basis of petty politics.
As 94 Knesset members sit on one side of an aisle, middle Israel sits in opposition, not because they hate this unity coalition, but because they have come to hate all coalitions. No matter the size or shape, coalitions in the mind of the Israeli voter are another tool for the incessant plotting and scheming of the same recycled power-hording party apparatchiks. Israelis want responsible governing; the rub is that this can only occur once the people first govern themselves. Rav Yosef Horwitz said of this all too human contradiction, “Man wants to achieve greatness overnight, and he wants to sleep well that night too.” Israelis want their politicians to unite and exert themselves for the greater good, but this will first require that the Israeli citizens practice what they preach. This means demanding reform in the face of inaction. It means taking up the mantle of personal responsibility and civic pride, and engaging in grassroots contributive activism. Only then will Israel’s politicians follow suit and embrace higher political virtues that can mold unity governments formed out of convenience into grand coalitions guided by the duty to serve the public interest.
About the Author: The author is co-founder of the Jewish National Initiative (www.jni.co.il).
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