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Parochial Interests Can Destroy National Consensus

Political parties in Israel use the government to satisfy their particular constituencies and ignore the larger community. As long as this continues, we will never build a healthy nation
Shalom Hartman Institute Founder Rabbi Prof. David Hartman z”l was a leading thinker among philosophers of contemporary Judaism and an internationally renowned Jewish author. As part of his unique vision to deal with the challenges of Judaism in the modern world, Rabbi Prof. David Hartman founded the Shalom Hartman Institute in 1976 in honor of his father. He was a man who is with us no more A thinker, teacher, and lover of mankind Our

One of the deep experiential features of Jewish life is the powerful principle of family. Jewish communities and Judaism celebrate the intimacy borne from shared memories and aspirations. Judaism is fundamentally a family religion, not defined by biology but by a way of life. Therefore, anyone who seeks to join is welcome. There is no such thing as an ethnic or biological Judaism, but rather, Judaism is an appreciation of particular values, humanitarian concerns, solidarity and fellowship among the Jews.

One of the powerful attractions that Israel has for Diaspora Jewish youth is the overwhelming feeling that they are part of a larger family. There is a joyful awareness of being part of a larger family made of such rich diversity. One only needs to ride on a bus in Israel to see how the world is mediated by different Jews – from Africa, South America, Europe, or etc. It’s like discovering a lost brother you haven’t seen for so many years.

Although this is very precious and beautiful, it wreaks havoc when it comes to building a government that can function effectively in the areas of politics and the economy.

The notion of a total people and a Jewish national renaissance rarely surfaces in Israeli society. In Israel, it is precious to see how the family has such rich diversity, but it is chaotic if people in government represent specific sectarian groups and forget they are responsible for a whole people.

The Israeli Cabinet is not chosen on the basis of competence, but on the basis of particular interest groups that carry certain political clout. You choose a foreign minister on the basis of how many seats he commands and how he would strengthen the coalition that gives Benjamin Netanyahu the role of Prime Minister.

One doesn’t ask about the training of Avigdor Lieberman in foreign diplomacy. But that is only one example. Different pressure groups in the Cabinet do not speak of solidarity of a nation in a modern world but their interest group’s needs that they are there to fight for.

So, although family is an important Jewish value, narrow, parochial interests can destroy a national consensus and the building of a policy that serves the whole nation. We are in the process of nation building in Israel. The abundant political parties in Israel use the government to satisfy their particular constituencies and ignore the benefits for the larger community. As long as this continues, we will never succeed in building a healthy nation.

You care about Israel, peoplehood, and vibrant, ethical Jewish communities. We do too.

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The End of Policy Substance in Israel Politics