If it wants to survive and thrive, Israel must base itself upon three key concepts: identity, meaning, and liberty.
Identity: This means asking ourselves who we are. Jews? Israelis? Just partners in a large insurance firm called the State of Israel? What is our shared narrative? Do we have a shared founding ethos? What is the significance of the fact that we are a Jewish state? Do we even have a common identity? Is it right to search for it and to attempt to shape it?
For some, it is enough that we all speak Hebrew. For others, that is not even the beginning of a common identity. To me, there is no such thing as a Jewish state without a clear and solid Jewish identity – not a religious identity, but a cultural identity.
I oppose religious legislation, instead preferring to allow our Jewish cultural common denominator to develop freely. While there is no Israeli law that requires new parents to circumcise their child according to Jewish law, the vast majority of Israelis still do so. It follows that we do not also need other religious legislation. Ultimately it is the community – not the state – that must decide on its religious character.
If the community chooses, it will have privately-owned public transportation within its parameters on Shabbat. If it chooses otherwise, the buses will not run. If the community chooses to open businesses on Shabbat, they will open. If not, they will remain closed. I trust the Jews, over 80 percent of who are deeply connected and committed to their Jewish identity. I also know that coercion will boomerang.
In short, I wish to emphasize and empower our Jewish identity by removing the fear and coercion, allowing the public’s true will to emerge as the guiding force behind our Jewish national identity.
Meaning: Does Israel have a goal? Or is it solely interested in ensuring that there will not be another Holocaust? Do we have a Holy Temple somewhere out there on the horizon? Or is our Holy Temple the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial? And if we understand that we need a positive destiny and that the world is already tired of our self-pity, then what is our real purpose here? What gives us the right to live in Sheikh Munis (Ramat Aviv in northern Tel Aviv), Haifa, Acre, Yafo and Tiberias – on the lands of expelled Arabs?
A Jewish state cannot exist without establishing a clear purpose for the younger generation, as it is only from our positive destiny that we draw our right to exist as a nation. In my view, the destiny of a Jewish state can be none other than our historical Jewish destiny.
“We gave you a country because we thought that when the people of the prophets return to its land, a new bible or a new ethical code will be written in the land of Israel for the world as a whole. We had expectations – and look what you have done.” This is how a group of British intellectuals described their disappointment with Israel and the reason that they no longer see Israel as legitimate.
I can buy into the definition of the British intellectuals. In our sources we call it “perfecting the world in the Kingdom of the Almighty.”
Liberty: Liberty means fighting against coercion of all kinds: religious, anti-religious, economic, cultural, educational, and more. Liberty means allocating state land to the citizen. It means privatization of government firms to the public and not to core shareholders.
Liberty means liberalized communication – broadcast license, not broadcast franchise. If you wish to start a television or radio station, buy a wavelength and broadcast as you please within the framework of the law. Liberty means restoring the responsibility for education to parents, using the education coupon method.
Liberty means a gradual transfer to a professional volunteer army. It means prohibiting biometric databases or any other type of human designation. There is no difference in principle between sophisticated biological marking and tattooing an ID number; both turn our identities into the property of a third party. In both scenarios, we lose our freedom.
Simply put: We have one God above us and we should not be enslaved to another person or mechanism. The state is ours and under no circumstance is the opposite true.
Identity, meaning and liberty are the keys to making Israel the Jewish state that we have always dreamed about and longed for. Let’s make that dream come true!
About the Author: Moshe Feiglin is the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and a member of Israel's Security and Defense Committee. He heads the Manhigut Yehudit ("Jewish Leadership") faction of Israel's governing Likud party. He is the founder of Manhigut Yehudit and Zo Artzeinu and the author of two books: "Where There Are No Men" and "War of Dreams." Feiglin served in the IDF as an officer in Combat Engineering and is a veteran of the Lebanon War. He lives in Ginot Shomron with his family.
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