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How united are we these days? - opinion - The Jerusalem Post

Author: opinion

Source: https://www.jpost.com/opinion/article-770735

Image of How united are we these days? - opinion - The Jerusalem Post

We've all been brought together by the war, but the situation is not as idyllic as some would have us believe.OCTOBER 30, 2023 00:18Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with Defense minister Yoav Gallant and Minister-without-portfolio Benny Gantz, holds a news conference in Tel Aviv on Saturday night.(photo credit: Abir Sultan/Reuters)There can be no doubt that the Jewish population of Israel – right-wing and an overwhelming majority of religious Jews, and center-left and an overwhelming majority of secular Jews – is much more united than it was four weeks ago.This is because we are all suffering from the psychological, physical, and economic ramifications of the situation, and because both the government and the security forces let us all down in terms of their total lack of preparedness.The IDF’s calling up of over 300,000 reservists, which met with an enthusiastic response, including that of the pilots and other senior reservists who several months ago had announced that they would desist from turning up for training, due to the government’s judicial upheaval, has certainly raised the general sense of unity.In the case of Israel’s Jewish and Arab populations, unity is a much more fragile issue, even though for the time being Israel’s Arab citizens have remained unexpectedly restrained.However, even the situation among us Jews, is not as idyllic as some would have us believe.I personally have a problem with the slogan “There is no Right and Left – we shall not be divided again.” The Right and the Left continue to exist and continue to manifest the existence of a vibrant democracy.What we must learn to do is live in greater harmony with each other, and try to refrain from delegitimizing each other.What this war has done is to highlight what we have in common as a people, and what differentiates us from the monsters who attacked us on October 7.From my own experience, the attempt to erase the right-left divide usually means that I am expected by the right-wing religious camp to become “more Jewish,” in the religious sense, and to “admit” that “Oslo,” and the ideology that led to it were not only a mistake but an unforgivable crime against the Jewish people. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Cabinet minister Benny Gantz during a press conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv , Israel , 28 October 2023.(credit: BIR SULTAN POOL/Pool via REUTERS)There's no such thing as one-sided unityIn the recent weeks I have received several SMS messages asking me what I want to give the soldiers as a present: to put on tefillin (if I am a man) or light a Shabbat candle (if I am a woman).Several panelists on TV Channel 14 have also suggested that what all of us left-wing traitors must do is to pray to “Hashem.” I certainly respect those who perform these acts out of religious faith, but resent being told that I am a faulty Jew, and that I do not seek all the best for our men and women in uniform if I do not perform religious acts in order to prove my patriotism and loyalty to the common cause.As for the Oslo Accords, we are constantly told by those who objected to the agreement and process that in the years after the agreement was signed, over 2,000 Jews were killed because of it.Nobody bothers to ask the question how many Jews would have been killed if it hadn’t been for the Oslo experiment – an experiment that failed because of the machinations of extremists on both sides, including the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish fanatic with the intention of stopping the process.AdvertisementFurthermore, the 1,500 Israelis who have, to date, been killed in the current confrontation were not killed because of Oslo, but because of the arrogance and negligence of our current all-right government, and Netanyahu’s previous governments, which chose to strengthen Hamas with money from its ideological backer, Qatar, while doing everything conceivable to weaken the Palestinian Authority.Certainly, all of us should take a good look at our basic ideological (or religious) beliefs and ask ourselves whether perhaps they need some revamping, or whether perhaps we ought to consider opting for a different ideology or way of life, as a result of the new reality in which we find ourselves immersed.But just as I wouldn’t even consider suggesting to all the supporters of Greater Israel, with its political and existential ramifications, that they should opt for the “two-state solution,” and to all those who lead a religious life that they turn secular because “where was God on October 7?” so I beg that my political opponents should respect my choices. Unity cannot be based on one side forcing its beliefs on the other side.That does not lead to unity.What stands in the way of true unityToday, there are at least two immediate issues that stand in the way of true unity.The most urgent issue is whether to set free all the hostages held by Hamas as a first priority, even if it means delaying a significant ground operation in the northern Gaza Strip.The divide here is not on right-left ideological lines.Of course, those who have relatives among the hostages believe they should be freed as soon as possible, at almost any cost, even if this may stand in the way of the total victory we seek over Hamas.There are those who believe that if our main strategic goal is to destroy Hamas to the core, this must hold first priority, and if we do not act quickly, the international community – including our well-wishers – might stop us. This does not mean that we cannot simultaneously try to reach an agreement with Hamas, by means of Qatar as mediator, just that the chances of safely releasing all the hostages seems less likely under these circumstances.It is a thankless, cruel choice our leaders must make, and public opinion in Israel seems split over it.The second issue concerns the taking of responsibility by our security and political leadership for the surprise Hamas attack on October 7.Our various security leaders have all taken responsibility for their parts in the event, and seem prepared to pay the price after the war is over.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will answer questions once a government committee is set up to investigate what went wrong, after the war is over.He has refused, so far, to take direct responsibility and, in a joint appearance with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Minister-without-portfolio Benny Gantz on Saturday night, refused to provide direct answers to questions from the media about his alleged culpability.Simultaneously, behind the scenes, Netanyahu is engaged in a vicious and relentless campaign, by means of the director-general of his office, Yossi Shelley, and other persons from his entourage, in which the top echelons of the security forces and the leaders of yesterday’s Kaplan Street demonstrations against the government’s plans for a major antidemocratic reform in the judicial system are blamed for the mishap.At the same time, many opposition forces have started pressing for Netanyahu’s immediate resignation, or removal by his party, on grounds of incompetence and refusal to take responsibility.Apparently, there is a growing number of senior Likud members who agree with the opposition that Netanyahu must go, but disagree with it about when this should occur.It is clear that neither Netanyahu’s attack on those he considers his enemies, nor the voices calling for his immediate resignation or removal, are contributing to national unity at this juncture. Both sides ought perhaps to step back, at least until six o’clock, on the morrow of the successful termination of the war.The writer worked in the Knesset for many years as a researcher, and has published extensively both journalistic and academic articles on current affairs and Israeli politics.Her most recent book, Israel’s Knesset Members – A Comparative Study of an Undefined Job, was published by Routledge last year.

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