“As long as the laws of society are not satisfactory to each and every individual in the state, and leave a minority that is dissatisfied with the government of the state, that minority conspires under the government of the state and seeks to overthrow it,” wrote Baal HaSulam back in the 1930s in his essay, “Peace in the World.” To this he added that if the power of the losing faction “is not sufficient to fight the government of the state face to face, it will seek to overthrow it indirectly, such as by inciting countries against each other and bringing them to war, for it is natural that at wartime there will be many more dissatisfied people with whom they will have hope to achieve the critical mass to overthrow the government of the state and establish a new leadership that is convenient for them.”
It seems as though these words were written yesterday, not ninety years ago. What is worse, the pertinence of Baal HaSulam’s words proves that we have not learned much.
We established the Jewish state based on laws we borrowed from the British Mandate that ruled here before us, with some leftovers from the rules of the Ottoman Empire that ruled here before the British. These are not the laws of the Israeli nation, but laws of the nations of the world. This incongruity wore down the legitimacy of the judicial structure to such an extent that lawmakers and laypeople alike are leaning increasingly toward following their own interpretations of the law.
Without a common goal and a collectively adopted constitution, we will never have a stable government and a solid Jewish state. Our common law should be the law that was the basis of Jewish peoplehood: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Even when the people of Israel could not practice it, they always strove for it. If they do not, they are not regarded as Israel.
Currently, because no effort, or even aspiration to unite exists within the people of Israel living in the State of Israel, we are not Israel. What are we then? We are a collective of persecuted migrants and refugees, many of whom feel that the country they live in does not belong to them and dream of the moment they can return to the country from which they or their parents were chased away.
Herzl’s vision of forming a safe haven for Jews is not enough. If this is the only reason for our gathering here, we will not be able to form a cohesive and stable society. The obstinate, opinionated nature of our people will soon take over, and division and hostility will develop. This is what is happening to Israel today. As a result, the political parties have splintered and become fragmented, and a succession of elections ensued.
If we want to stabilize the Israeli society and prevent its disintegration, we need to fall in line behind a single goal that we value more than our own opinion. Also, the goal of our country should not be to save the Jews, but to save the world from division and conflict.
The reason Israel is always at the center of attention, especially in times of conflict, is that the world looks to Israel for example. Since the inception of our people, we have been tasked with serving as a model of unity. Our ancestors assembled from numerous tribes, clans, and countries, and pledged to love each other more than themselves. This is unheard of by today’s ostensibly civilized standards. In the ancient world, this was utterly inconceivable.
Nevertheless, our ancestors attempted it and succeeded. Moreover, they proved that when they unite, they triumph and overpower any nation that challenges them. They proved that military and economic success depend, in the case of the people of Israel, solely on their unity.
Alternatively, when they became divided and hostile toward each other, they demonstrated weakness, and foreign nations overpowered them and exiled them. Our unique nation, therefore, became the first nation that could choose its own fate. When it chose unity, it succeeded; when it chose division, it failed. In a sense, our nation was a proof of concept, a “pilot,” as historian Paul Johnson called us. We proved that foreigners can bond in peace and love if they value unity more than their own culture and tradition.
The modern-day curse of endless elections reflects a decline in the level of the unity of our people in the State of Israel. Instead of lining up around the tenet of unity above all other considerations, each party promotes its own agenda and claims that it will lead Israel to success. Yet, they are all wrong because if their ideas do not require national unity as a precondition, it makes no difference what agenda they support; it is condemned to failure.
Only when we realize our unity, above all differences, will the curse of perpetual elections be removed. Moreover, only when we realize this will the danger of another cataclysm to the Jewish people be averted, as Israel becomes what Israel is meant to be: “a light [of unity] to the nations.”