Cross-posted from my Times of Israel blog
Once upon a time I loved Israel in a way that was devastatingly complete. Wonderful country. People were all heroes. Everything was the Palestinian’s fault. Except when it was Hezbollah’s. Or something that the media had either blown out of proportion or made up entirely. Since living here that blanket type of opinion has given way to a more nuanced view of the place. The things Israel does certainly affects the region and the world around us.
Of course the difference is that when I was living in London I was more concerned with people who felt that Zionism was unacceptable and that the state of Israel needed to disappear. Now I’m feeling nostalgic for those good old days. I didn’t need to know much about Israeli politics then because it wasn’t important to the task at hand. I supported Israel. The great country of the Jews, constantly under attack, constantly in need of defending.
Now I live here and Zionism as an ideology isn’t something that needs to be defended from my fellow citizens. Few of whom don’t think it should exist or who think that the Jews aren’t entitled to national self determination. In fact being Zionist is assumed, it’s obvious. Part of the beauty of living here is that I don’t have to deal with that crap. In fact, living here, I am Zionism.
Everyone here is.
This will be the third Israeli election that I have been privileged enough to vote in. With the election coming up the question is not whether Zionism is right or whether the state it spawned should exist. The question is what is Zionism and what is best for the state the ideology gave birth to. Herzl famously said;
“If you will it, it is no dream.” Enough people willed it and the country is now here. So what will we do with it?
With this very messy political system we have here you’re always going to end up with a compromise government. Sometimes that drives me crazy, other times I can’t help but marvel about how utterly Jewish and right it feels to have a government that is forced to find compromise solutions on almost every issue. Not the most effective way perhaps, but so beautifully Jewish.
The election forces each of us here to take a stand on what Zionism means over and above national self determination for the Jewish people. That part’s easy. Before aliyah I didn’t even think it was my place to question who it was that Israelis chose to elect. Now I am an Israeli and my future depends on it. I have marched and I have blogged but ultimately nothing comes close to the act of voting and I take great pride in the fact that Israel is by far and away the most democratic government in the Middle East and one of the most in the world.
The coming months should prove to be interesting ones here in Israel. The next government will be poised to have a strong effect on the future of the country. We are in many ways at a pivotal moment, this election is being touted as a referendum on the current Prime Minister’s leadership. Such disparate issues as the Jewish V democratic make up of the state, Gaza, how to progress with the Palestinian Authority, the economy and many other things will be determined by the next government.
Mainly it looks like the first time in a long time when people are genuinely unsure what the next government will look like. Hopefully the best people to run the country will win.
Though you never know.