One hero stood out at the torch lighting event during Independence Day. Marie Nachmias, the righteous woman who was chosen to light one of the 12 torches, wasn’t daunted by the Nation-State Law and spoke directly about equality and unity in Israel between Jews and Arabs, Druze and Christians, and even mentioned the forbidden word “peace” during her speech.
Peace – that traitorous, foul word – wasn’t mentioned anywhere else this year outside of a regularly recited Jewish prayer: “May the one who makes peace above make peace upon us.”
Another important statement was made a day earlier during a Memorial Day ceremony by IDF commander Brig. Gen. David Zini, who said that “we must remember that our enemies are the enemies of the Lord, and our protectors are His protectors; any attempt to separate them is a left-over malady from before there was an Israel.”
Excuse me, general? Do you read me, over? You’re wrong. The State of Israel was created to give a national expression to the Jewish people, not a religious one. It was created so that the faith of the Jewish people would no longer be in the hands of the heavens, but in the hands of men — our hands. Religion was the people’s savior during exile, and now it’s time for sane, intelligent policies to take care of us.
Commander, are we so short of war that you would inflict upon us a religious conflict on top of the one with our neighbors?
On a parallel trajectory, we are constantly being scared, threatened and nagged with claims that Iran and its nuclear weapons are upon us. Yes, the proxies of Iran in the region are responsible for terror and for stirring up tensions. But the real danger —the long-term danger – is the fact that Iran’s scientific activities are heavily sponsored by the state and are thriving.
Scientific publications in Iran are on the rise, whereas in Israel it is a different story.
Last week a State Comptroller’s report stated that most math teachers in Israel don’t even have a mathematics degree. Teachers are under-qualified and sometimes have no relation whatsoever to the subject they teach. The head of Israel’s prestigious Technion – Israel Institute of Technology warned of a future collapse of scientific research, while higher education is in a state of constant decline.
The government, out of narrow political calculations, funds ignorance and supports the lagging behind of entire sectors. While the stability of the coalition is a holy value, the national stability is at the bottom of its list of priorities.
An Egyptian general who was chief of staff during the 1973 Yom Kippur War and a brigadier general during the 1967 Six-Day War, was once asked how his mighty army lost to tiny Israel. “It’s not the number of residents that counts,” he said. “It’s the number of educated people, and in Israel, there are more educated people than in Egypt.”
Since then, Israel has changed its attitude towards education and knowledge and now regards them with contempt, while “elites” and “left-wing” have become popular curse words. Elite means a group of people that contributes to the state far more than its actual size. And the left are the people who founded this country, to whom Israel owes much of its survival.
The race for a precious foreign passport is never-ending, and Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews, rightists and leftists are doing everything they can to get one. This is motivated by obvious reasons, such as long queues in the airport, free education for the children or tax exemptions. But there’s also one unspoken reason: the loss of hope.
People don’t believe that multi-ethnic, multi-national, Haredi, Jewish Israel with a distorted political itinerary will be able to survive for very long. Even those who regularly vote for the ruling party fear for the continuation of Israel.
The heads of state and heads of the Likud Party used to always put the good of the country and its future before their personal gain and their base’s interests.
Menachem Begin rushed to ask the Labor Party for support in order to sign the peace treaty with Egypt in 1979. Yitzhak Shamir had two opportunities and Ariel Sharon had one to form a narrow, right-wing Haredi government, and in all three cases, a unity coalition was chosen instead.
Netanyahu used to say that the government he established with the Labor Party was the best one he ever had. But now he has this small problem of indictments, and to solve it he’s establishing a radical, ultra-Orthodox government and concocting a scheme to castrate Israel’s judicial authority.
It’s not the criminal cases against Netanyahu that are on the line. It’s the fate of the third Jewish temple — the modern State of Israel.