September 21, 2019

The Netanyahu danger

“I’m proud of the nation of Israel, that at the moment of truth knew to separate between the essential and the trivial, and stand for the essential,” Netanyahu told a crowd of cheering supporters chanting his name on Tuesday night. “To stand for the things important for all of us: real security, responsible economics and social welfare, which we’re dedicated to.”

These words of the Prime Minister are so false. While I congratulate Mr. Netanyahu on his victory, I am appalled at how he used fear and hatred as ways of winning. He has made it difficult to be a leader for peace and solution/compromise. Mr. Netanyahu, hopefully, will rise to be a statesman, as was Menachem Begin, David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yitzhok Shamir. Israel needs a statesman, not a hatemonger. Israel needs a leader, not one who panders to the basest fears and the monied people. Can Mr. Netanyahu be this statesman/leader? If he is serious about the security of Israel, if he has a personal connection with God, there is hope. If these don't exist, I am fearful.

Mr. Netanyahu won. A plurality of Israelis want this way of being, evidently. I don't agree with Mr. Netanyahu's ways, but I understand they work in politics. His arrogance could very well undermine the real security of the State of Israel. While he has strong friendships in the U.S. Congress and AIPAC, denying a two-state solution is a slap in the face of everyone, including the U.N. Resolution that brought Israel into being! He refuses to see that Iran has to be dealt with, albeit carefully and with great trepidation, on a non-invasive manner. We have seen what happens in the Middle East when we bomb a government out of being- chaos.

I support action when Hamas sends rockets. I support doing what is necessary to ensure the safety of the citizens of Israel, Jew and non-Jew alike. I support taking a stand. What I don't support is making another people/person/race less than human. We Jews have been treated that way for millennia and, as Rabbi Hillel the Elder says: “What is hateful to you do not do to others.” Is being obstinate and arrogant going to lead to “real security?”

Responsible economics is not going to happen as long as Mr.Netanyahu's histrionics give more weight to the anti-Semites and anti-Israelites that abound in the world. Making Israel a nation that doesn't negotiate in good faith will not endear the world to trade or support Israeli products. Mr. Netanyahu's theatrics as the election got closer only puts “bullets in the guns of those that hate us for just existing.” I know we are hated as a faith and as a Country. Yet, hatred met with more hatred, vitriol met with more vitriol is only going to push us farther from our goal of economic, religious and physical security.

Finally, my biggest problem is that Mr. Netanyahu is not fighting for the soul and spirit of Israel. He is not concerned about social welfare except to keep the Haredi on welfare. He is not interested in forcing true pluralism in religious choice because that would offend the religious parties whose support he needs to keep power. Mr. Netanyahu is fighting for power, and as we know, power corrupts.

Again, Israelis have spoken. I am dismayed that a Center-Right/Left coalition could not be formed as I believe this coalition could achieve a solution. I am dismayed that being “right” is more important than finding solutions to the issues Israel faces. I stand in firm support of the State of Israel, in firm support of the Zionist Dream. As a Jew, I have the right to my voice and opinion as others do to theirs. As a Jew, I pray for peace for Midinat Yisrael in the near future. I have hope, I have concerns, I have faith and I have worries. Let's all pray for a solution that respects the dignity and souls of all concerned.

Rabbi Mark Borovitz is co-founder and spiritual leader of Beit Teshuva in Los Angeles, CA.