With election season once again upon us, we observe the latest spectacle of politicians jockeying for position while insisting it is our best interests they have in mind. Strategic alliances are formed and dissolved almost as fast as Hamas signing a truce and breaking it. Leaders of small factions that are barely distinguishable from one another bicker like disgruntled spouses trying to score points with the marriage counselor, poisoning their relationship even as they pretend to be saving it.
What to do? For the most part, our political leaders are only a reflection of our overall society and vice versa; we tend to get the leaders we deserve. Our overall society too is broken up into small factions that want a fair playing field for everyone, so long as the game is tilted in their own favor. Ethiopians riot only when a black citizen is killed, settlers protest a lack of security only when attacks occur in settlements, gays love and tolerate only those who celebrate their lifestyle, Torah-deprived Israelis resent religious people who avoid the draft and reject modern Zionism, while embracing “post-Zionist” attacks on the army and Israelis who go backwards to Berlin.
Everyone’s a self-centered hypocrite. Why should our leaders be any different?
Nevertheless, a healthy majority of Israelis agree that Israel should take a tougher approach to its enemies and strengthen the Jewish possession of our land in various ways. When it comes to election season, we should be able to unite on fundamental issues of such critical importance and work out the details later. Time and again, however, we have chosen to bicker over differences rather than uniting over shared aspirations, and the results have been consistently tragic.
This comes as a revelation to no one, yet every attempt to increase electoral unity falls at the first inevitable expression of dissent. This party brings more votes than that party. This one should receive more seats, better placement, this ministry. This politician will never run with that one; the other politician is too extremist, or too liberal, or too religious, or not religious enough, or a woman, or a loudmouth, or a liar. Of course “we want unity, we are willing to sacrifice everything for unity”, but we will not be suckers.
The politicians trade insults and salvos, each seeking to appear strong before his tiny constituency, and blame the other one for starting it. Then they start all over again, though sometimes they don’t, and either way it doesn’t matter much. A marriage of convenience will not blossom into a harmonious relationship, nor will these antics strengthen our hold on the promised land.
So how can we unite – if not completely, then enough to make true progress on the most critical issues?
I have a proposal, inspired by our tradition. All the small political parties that are competing for the same votes – religious Zionists, settlers, Hamas’s worst nightmare, etc. – should agree unequivocally to run together and work together for the greater good, despite their personal differences. There will be no squabbling over who will receive which position for the ballot, for politics and ego will be taken entirely out of the equation like never before.
The positions on the ballot will be determined by a goral (lottery). Before the goral is conducted, the leaders of these parties will join together to declare that the issues and the needs of the people transcend their personal aspirations, and they will pray together for Hashem to orchestrate the results of the goral that best serve His will and His people. They will agree to accept the results without complaint or unkind word about their running-mates, and focus only on getting the work done.
To make things more “fair” for those whose parties scored better in the most recent election, the odds of receiving higher placement in the lottery can be weighted in their favor accordingly. There would then be no reason for anyone to refuse this arrangement, unless he refuses to believe that God will support this unprecedented display of unity, humility, and submission to His guidance in modern Israeli politics.
This is the perfect system for religious Jews that agree on fundamental issues and truly believe in God, but are unable to overcome the grudges and character flaws that distract them from the big picture. The constituents of all these parties will admire their leaders for stepping back from petty campaign politics, putting their egos aside, and surrendering the facade of control to God. The non-believers among us – and most of the media – will mock them, but the nation will be impressed and inspired like never before.
When Jews truly unite, no enemies or challenges can stand before us. I’ve presented a fair and neutral path to achieve unprecedented unity that is easily within our grasp, right now. I challenge our political leaders and the people they represent to take this path toward an unknown, but unquestionably brighter future.