I’m generally not one to call for unity. In fact one of my pet peeves is a “national unity” government. It strikes me as an opportunity for unpopular politicians to remain in power while the electorate is left wondering why they bothered voting at all.
But there is more than one form of unity. There’s the superficial kind that tends to be accompanied by a politician’s call for everyone to just agree with them and follow unquestioningly, and then there’s the real kind. The kind of unity where we remember we’re all in this together.
Regardless of how you feel about Israeli non-governmental organisations, whatever side of the political spectrum they are on, they don’t exist in an attempt to destroy the country, but to improve it.
By the same token disagreeing with them isn’t just okay, it’s also part and parcel of the make up of the country. Banning them or treating them like traitors, however, is to positively condemn Israel and the people who live in it to existence on a sinking ship.
It’s frustrating to watch people whose opinions you passionately disagree with take the helm of government and it’s incredibly irritating to watch those you feel are wrong stand up on a soapbox time and time again to state their views to anyone who will listen. That may be frustrating to those who passionately feel this shouldn’t be the case and they are (blissfully) free to use their passion and their ideas to convince others of their righteousness.
As are you.
But (and there always is one) labeling those you disagree with as enemies of the state or of the Jewish people will ultimately harm all of us. All of our innovation, our ability to improvise and invent, our capacity to think outside of the box depends on having an environment where we’re free to express ourselves and our ideas. Where we can speak without fear that our words will lead to physical harm.
Once upon a time, this all felt rather obvious. But now I feel like it can’t be said enough. There’s no way of ring fencing freedom, there’s no way to be free to express our ideas if we have to watch our backs at all times afraid that someone is going to declare us a traitor or a mole and encourage people to hate us.
It’s time to remember what we’re all doing here. Israel isn’t just the name of a country or the name of our people; Israel is the unfolding story of us. Our trials, tribulations, successes and failures are all enmeshed in us as a people, as a country, as a nation. The State of Israel is our constantly unfolding story.
And now more and more of those who claim to be acting in the best interests of Israel are attacking their fellow Jews in the name of Jews, their fellow Israelis in the name of Israel. We’re all in this together, from the ultra-Orthodox of Mea Shearim to the ultra-secular of Tel Aviv, from those who march for Peace Now to those who march with Im Tirtzu.
We succeed together and we fail together. Our enemies don’t discriminate in their attacks against us. Their missiles can’t choose and our enemies wouldn’t want them to. That’s worth remembering the next time one Jew offers another a McCarthyite test of loyalty to see if they’re truly a patriot.