The results of the recent elections expressed a new national social agenda. The world of Left and Right to which we have become so accustomed is melting away. In the national consciousness, the old debate between peace and security has become irrelevant. Nobody really has high expectations from the peace process and most Israelis don’t really care about the settlements. The new agenda is on the continuum between existence and destiny: civil identity as opposed to Jewish identity.
The Knesset seats that could have gone to Likud went to Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid and Naftali Bennett’s HaBayit HaYehudi. The Likud, which avoided speaking about its own ideology and did not even bother to publicize its platform, has leaned on the Left for years. As long as there were leftists, the Likud could identify itself as “not Left.” Prior to the elections, the splintered Left masked its ideology (with the exception of Meretz). The Left was no longer left. It looked like a Likud victory was going to be easier than ever.
But just the opposite happened. The Likud no longer enjoyed the energizing leftist contra. It no longer had the synagogue where it would never pray. The Likud remained without identity, while on both of its sides, parties that offered Israeli society identity – civil or national – flourished.
When Yitzhak Rabin’s granddaughter, Noa Rotman, blamed me this week for being responsible for her grandfather’s assassination, she brought society’s conversation back to that bad place. My first reaction was to ignore her accusations, but on second thought I understood that I had no choice but to demand an apology.
The struggle against the Oslo Accords encompassed a huge swath of society that was very seriously harmed and that suffered a painful process of demonization and dehumanization. It is not about a personal insult, but rather an insult to a broad public. Thus, I do not have the right to forgive this insult. If I were to do so, the demonization would never end. It is specifically the fear of a libel suit that will prevent more of these statements, and will clear the public domain so that we may continue the positive process of a shared search for meaning – a process that is already well underway.
More and more, I understand that the deep meaning of Judaism is embodied in the vision of liberty. The message of the holiday of Pesach – the message of liberty, from bondage to freedom so that we may shoulder the yoke of Heaven – is the quintessence of Judaism.
The struggle for Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount – the site of the holy Temple, the place chosen by the King of the world as the dwelling place for His Divine Presence – is actually humanity’s struggle in the transition from enslavement to liberty. It is no coincidence that the Exodus from Egypt has become the symbol of liberty and was the model for the founding fathers of the United States.
This is where we must lead the new Israeli consciousness: from bondage to liberty.
This column was translated from the Hebrew version, which appeared in Makor Rishon.