Latest update: February 12th, 2012
Far from being merely a social movement, already in its nascent stages, members of Am Shalem have begun to consolidate their social ideals into a practical political platform. Amsalem remains committed to placing national unity and social equality at the forefront of his political aspirations. Therefore, he has publicly declared that any future Am Shalem list will have some of its highest ranked seats reserved for women and secular members of the Party. Even if only elected to the Knesset with the fewest possible seats, Am Shalem will look to represent the full range of Israeli society. Additionally, members of the party have proclaimed that their stand for national unity and religious moderation will not be left on the streets of Beit Shemesh, but will continue in the Knesset, where its party’s members are committed to fighting the religious extremism and special interests of Shas and Degel HaTorah.
As Am Shalem looks forward to upcoming elections, its members have taken pause to consider the Israel of tomorrow. It is their hope, that have said, that by moderating religious extremism and advocating for a religious elite that is both scrupulous in its halachic rulings but divorced from its propensity to espouse non-mandated halachic stringencies, Israeli society will be a place of tolerance for all Jews. In the future Israeli society, secular elements of the society will return to embracing the need for the nation to maintain Judaism’s unbroken chain of religious observance, even if they themselves choose not to commit to religious practice. Ultimately, Am Shalem and its supporters dream about an Israel that is united, with a society that is free and socially open, while remaining dedicated to the religious principles that have sustained the Jewish nation throughout the millennia.
But before you write their dream off as impossible, the people of Israel are beginning to rally behind Am Shalem and its members. In the past weeks, Am Shalem, in its first showing in a nationwide poll, successfully secured two seats in a prospective Parliament. Needing to only secure three seats to be admitted to the legislature, and with nearly two years before the next scheduled election, the future seems bright for Am Shalem, and its dreams for establishing national unity as a preeminent force in Israel’s social and political future. In any case, Amsalem and his supporters will most probably continue to try to make the ideal of national unity, an old but truly progressive platform, a reality in Israel’s future and in doing so reaffirm one of the State’s most fundamental principles. As Herzl wrote, in his pioneering work Altneuland, “If you will it, it is no dream; and if you do not will it, a dream it is and a dream it will stay.”Joseph Offenbacher
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