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Elections, Elections, Elections, Elections, Elections

I believe in democracy as a system. I don’t always like the results, and the nature of democracy is to careen around in sometimes frightening and worrisome ways. And though it consistently works badly, it's also consistently better than anything else.

I don’t like the outcome of the recent Israeli elections. I am concerned that Netanyahu’s continued involvement in Israeli political life has become divisive and problematic. Further, this coalition will most likely include people with bigoted and homophobic views. I am saddened by this outcome, even as I realize campaign rhetoric and actual policy may differ.

I am committed to democracy. I am disturbed that some of the parties likely to be included in this coalition will work to weaken the courts and take away the rights of non-Jews. I am disturbed that other key coalition partners will do everything they can to prevent religious pluralism in Israel.

I suspect this coalition will last. The truth is there are less than 1000 votes separating the two blocs out of nearly 5 million votes cast. Since three center and left parties failed to make the required percentage, all those votes were discarded. All the Netanyahu bloc parties made the percentage. Netanyahu and his partners know they are unlikely to get this many seats should elections occur again. And they know how unhappy the Israeli public will be if they have to go to the polls yet again. This will compel them to find ways to see past some of the deep divides among the likely coalition partners.

I don’t know how effective the coalition will be nor what is policies will be. It remains a disparate group of people with sometimes contradictory desires. They have promised a lot, including universal preschool and child care alongside full funding for Haredi schools that don’t teach secular subjects. They promised everything to everyone, and there is no way for them to deliver.

I am deeply concerned and want to see what happens. I want an Israel that cares about its Jewish citizens and sees a way to honor its Arab citizens. I want an Israeli government that takes it religious pluralism seriously and the need for a separation between Synagogue and State.

While I am concerned about this emerging government, I still love Israel and its people. I am so pleased that I can go there for Hanukkah. I feel grateful for the many ways Israeli contributes to the world and secures a Jewish future. I remain hopeful that even if the worst happens and we have a very difficult time with the current government that something good can follow. I hope that the actual governance will be better than I imagine at this moment. Either way, I still love Israel. Because this is how democracy works.

May God offer wisdom and insight to the leaders of the State of Israel and remind them that entrusted into their hands is more than just a political apparatus. They hold in their hands a place that is deeply sacred and that means something to the Jews of the world. May God guide them and open their hearts to compassion and service. Amen.

Fri, December 9 2022 15 Kislev 5783