Eldad continues with a new medical metaphor: “When I left the post of head of plastic surgery at Hadassah, a very respectable position—I can’t say that it paid a lot, because I never dealt with aesthetic plastic surgery, only burn victims, I never took money from my patients, not one cent, on principle—but when I gave up that prestigious post, it was because I realized that the most efficient kind of medicine is preventive medicine. If you have a hundred shekels, spend it on inoculations, not on antibiotics.
“I knew that I had to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state; that was the mission I gave myself when I ran for the Knesset. It’s my way of preventing burn injuries where they would happen. And they happen in that tough place called the Knesset, where the rules of the game are repulsive, especially during election season.”
SECULAR MAN IN A RELIGIOUS SEA
Many of Eldad’s voters are National Religious or traditional Jews, but he doesn’t wear a yarmulke.
“It’s true that I don’t wear a yarmulke,” he says. “But I observe Shabbat and our home is kosher. My children studied in a national religious school. I live in Kfar Adumim (Judea), and that’s the school we have there. I live in a village with a mix of religious and secular Israelis living together. Had I lived in the U.S. I would have been considered a traditional Jew, not a secular one, or, God forbid, Reform, or Orthodox. But I’m certainly not secular.
“On issues of religion and state, I’ve been enamoured with the Kineret Declaration, which attempted to shape the relationship between state and religion through broad agreements. Ruth Gabison, who was among the founders and the chair of the Civil Rights movement in Israel, has signed that document which included statements regarding Shabbat, for instance, that raised the ire of dedicated secularists.”
The Kineret Declaration of October, 2001, includes 10 items defining the fundamental principles for the state of Israel, the first of which is: “The state of Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people.” Item number 9 defines the relationship between the state of Israel and the religion of Israel (subtly avoiding the more common “Jewish religion”):
“…We believe that the Jewish tradition has an important role in public and in the public aspects of civil life, but the state must not impose religious norms on individuals… We are children of the same nation. Our past and our destiny are the same…”
Eldad says he was glad to see Labor leader Shelly Yachimovich endorse the same ideals, when she said, for instance, that she’d be happy to see the absence of work on Shabbat. Not so much from a religious, but from a socialist point of view, decrying how we’ve become slaves without choice who are forced to work seven days a week.
My colleague Stephen Leavitt was still in his year of mourning for his father, and we gathered a group for a Mincha minyan. Eldad took a yarmulke out of his pocket and joined us in prayer. No one in his office appeared surprised.
POWER FOR ISRAEL’S AGENDA
“Besides keeping Illegals from entering Israel and preventing the creation of a Palestinian state, do you any other agenda?” I ask him.
“Preventing the illegal entry is important, and to our delight, after four years of pressure, Netanyahu has given in and erected the security fence,” Eldad responds. “When I proposed a law to build such a fence in the south, the government killed it, telling us, more or less, you’re not going to tell us what to do. Then, a year and a half later, they went about building it, not before some 100 thousand infiltrators had entered our country. But we’re talking not only about building a fence to keep them from entering, we’re also talking about expelling the 100 thousand infiltrators back to their homelands.
“As to preventing the creation of a Palestinian state – that’s an essential component of our platform, but we’re also suggesting an alternative: we’re saying there’s no need to create a Palestinian state, because there already exists a Palestinian state in Jordan, where 80 percent of the residents are Palestinian, by their own definition. And when the Arab Spring reaches Jordan—as it has done in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Yemen, and is taking place now in Syria—and the Hashamite regime will also collapse, then Jordan will become a national Palestinian state not only de facto but also de jure. That will create a new opening out of the current dead end of two states for two peoples west of the Jordan River, in which we’ve been stuck since the Oslo accords.