Latest update: December 13th, 2012
The main junction from which the different opinions on most issues in Israel diverge is the question of identity. Israel does not have clear borders because it does not have a clear identity. The dispute is not really over peace or security. The dispute is about identity. The more solid our Jewish identity, the stronger the connection between our land and us. The stronger the desire to retreat from our Jewish identity, the stronger our desire to retreat from the land. When we connect to our identity, we will connect to our land and we will merit clear borders and peace.
The “peace process” with the Arabs is not important. What is important is the process of building our identity, of building a Jewish state that will restore our lost feeling of collective meaning. If we properly build a Jewish state of liberty, we will merit peace in Sderot and Kiryat Shemoneh. But if we continue to flee from this true challenge, Tel Aviv will also not enjoy quiet.
What is the Jewish state that I envision? The most basic Jewish principle is liberty that stems from the Jewish belief in the Creator. Faith in God is the root of liberty.
Throughout history, from Pharaoh to Achashveirosh and from Hitler to Stalin, absolutist dictators scheming to conquer and enslave the entire world would conclude that they must destroy the Jewish people. For the Jew’s very essence will always remain free, as he cannot be turned into a slave. He already has a king: The King of the world.
When the founding fathers of America wanted to establish a state founded on liberty, the Bible and the Exodus from Egypt were their main sources of inspiration. Now, when Western civilization is crumbling under a demographic and cultural attack, there are great expectations for a new message of liberty that will emerge from Zion. When those expectations are left unresolved, they turn into disappointment and are translated into loss of legitimacy for the existence of a Jewish state on the face of the earth.
Now is the time to wave the banner of liberty from its source: the nation and land of the Bible. We must slowly but surely switch over to liberty-based conduct. For the state belongs to the nation – not vice versa.
Here are some examples:
Housing: Allocation of land by lottery
Approximately 93 percent of the land for housing is currently held by the state, through the Israel Land Authority. Even more amazing is the fact that most of the land ultimately made available for construction comes from the additional seven percent of private land in Israel. The state is simply holding onto the central resource that belongs to the entire nation. This causes an artificial rise in the cost of land, housing and living.
This land is our land – not only on a national level, but on the most personal level as well. The Torah of Israel sanctifies the bond between the Israeli and his apportioned lot of land. By lottery, we must slowly but surely transfer ownership of the land from the state to the nation. Free trade between citizens will lower the cost of land even more and will do to housing what the liberty principle did to the cell phone market.
Without even noticing it, parents have surrendered their most central liberty: the liberty to educate their children. Today, if a parent wishes to independently educate his child, he must acquire special authorization from the Ministry of Education.
A liberty-based state will employ the voucher method. The Ministry of Education will supply all parents with education vouchers to be used for their children. Special- needs children will receive more vouchers. Parents will be able to “cash” these vouchers in the school of their choice. This will create healthy competition between the schools. The level of studies and diversity will flourish, and responsibility and liberty will be restored to the parents.
Family: Income Tax for Couples
The family is the first and most basic support system that a person has. It fashions his identity and fosters his liberty. Without family (and community) modern man remains alone in the big city, enslaved to forces greater than him.
Over the past two decades, the state of Israel has done all in its power to compromise the status of the family. Today, happy couples divorce just for the tax exemptions afforded single parents.
The state of Israel must restore the traditional family as a value to be encouraged. It need not replace single parenthood and must not stem from scorn toward the rights of homosexuals. Instead, it must highlight the understanding that without the traditional family, there is no society and no liberty. The first thing that must be done is to tax families as one organic unit (the sum of the income of both partners). In this way, one partner can work extra hours and be taxed reasonably, allowing the other partner to spend quality time with the children.
(To be continued)
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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