Last week, I detailed parts of my campaign platform for the January 22 Israeli Knesset elections. Here are more proposals:
Economy: Capitalism, Charity and Kindness
Everyone rightfully praises Israeli Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon for lowering the price of cell phones, calling him the “social minister.” (Kahlon is also Israel’s minister of Welfare and Social Services.) But the minister implemented his cell-phone revolution with free-market principles. Real capitalism – the kind that truly practices equal opportunity – is a social tool that allows people to live in relative affluence and to enjoy the fruits of their labor without falling prey to institutionalized robbery.
Judaism sanctifies the connection between a person and his possessions. This is unparalleled relative to any other culture. However, Jewish economics is not exactly like the more familiar Western capitalism that exhausts itself and becomes a tool in the service of a thin slice of society. The motto of the rest of the world is: What is mine is mine and what is yours is yours. Jews recognize that everything comes from God and is simply deposited in our hands. This means that charity and kindness to others are not voluntary; they are our obligations toward He Who deposited the wealth in our hands.
Israel must privatize its assets to the public and not control cores, as per the model of Yaron Zelicha, who recommended privatizing Israel’s Bank Leumi to the bank accounts of the public.
Religion and State: No Coercion
I oppose religious legislation and would be happy to see religious political parties disappear. The Creator does not need them. There is no law in Israel that requires parents to circumcise their sons. But the vast majority of Jews in Israel do so because it is part of our culture. On the other hand, there is a law in Israel that prohibits the sale of chametz on Passover. But that law is openly violated because the Torah has not yet become an integral part of Israeli culture. Laws should express culture, not attempt to create it.
I oppose all types of coercion – both religious and secular. It is impossible to force a person to rest on Shabbat, or to force a soldier to listen to women singing (a totally ridiculous issue). I see discrimination against women as despicable. But it is unreasonable to force an ultra-Orthodox bus company to institute mixed seating on its buses against the wishes of its customers. It is unreasonable to prohibit homosexuals from parading in places where the majority of the public is not offended by their march. But it is also unreasonable to force a neighborhood in which the majority of residents will be offended by a homosexual parade to be on the route of such an event.
The idea of civil marriage is correct. Israel must allow the Ministry of Interior to issue marriage licenses to non-Jews, which will include all the privileges associated with a marriage license. However, we cannot force the halachic authority to afford the status of Jew to those people who are not recognized as such by Jewish law.
The local community should decide what businesses should be opened on Shabbat.
Draft and Equality: A Volunteer Army
Israel’s population in the 60s and 70s was half of what it is today. Organized armies sat on our borders, waiting for the command to destroy us. Nevertheless, army service was two and a half years and women did not serve in combat units. Today, the only regular army that is a threat to Israel is the Egyptian army (thanks to our peace treaty with Egypt) at the opposite end of the demilitarized Sinai. War has transformed into a hi-tech, guerilla conflict. Nevertheless, soldiers are now drafted for three years because the IDF is considered the “People’s Army.”
The IDF does not need all these new draftees and has admitted as much to a number of committees that it has established. Obligatory draft is fine for actual war – but it severely contradicts the principle of liberty. Israel should gradually transform the IDF into a professional volunteer army. It will be able to choose the best and brightest of the volunteers and to compensate them accordingly. These volunteers will receive the best professional and academic training. The rest of the draft-age citizens – men and women – will be inducted, do a short basic training and immediately be discharged. In an emergency, these people can be drafted for service on the home front or for further training. This will make the draft question redundant for sectors not interested in army service.