Progressively Speaking: What next for Israel after another election deadlock?
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Progressively Speaking: What next for Israel after another election deadlock?

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner takes a topical issue and applies a progressive Jewish response

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (R) hands a letter of appointment for entrusted with forming the next government to Israeli Prime Minister and Chairman of the Likud Party Benjamin Netanyahu (L) at the President's residence in Jerusalem, Israel, 25 September 2019. Media reports state, that negotiations between the Likud party headed by Benjamin Netanyahu that won 32 seats and the Blue and White party of Benny Gantz that won 33 seats for forming unity government did not succeed. Photo by: JINIPIX
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (R) hands a letter of appointment for entrusted with forming the next government to Israeli Prime Minister and Chairman of the Likud Party Benjamin Netanyahu (L) at the President's residence in Jerusalem, Israel, 25 September 2019. Media reports state, that negotiations between the Likud party headed by Benjamin Netanyahu that won 32 seats and the Blue and White party of Benny Gantz that won 33 seats for forming unity government did not succeed. Photo by: JINIPIX

Everything has changed and nothing has changed. The second election to the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) in 2019 produced results that were not spectacularly different to the first time around.

There is still stark division within Israeli society about the best way forward and no one with a clear and convincing mandate to chart the course ahead.

This election was designed to break the deadlock that resulted from the last election, but it has not really achieved that goal.

The result also seems different. All the talk now is about the possibility of a national “unity” government – an oddly familiar scenario having personally lived in Jerusalem during the national unity government of Sharon and Peres.

In a political landscape bitterly divided, a hope for unity is one to hold onto. After all, shalom, meaning peace, also shares a root with completion and wholeness.

While for many years, narrow, sectional interests have dominated Israeli politics, we must hope the commitment to unity extends beyond a catchphrase.

It cannot be a narrow unity, or a facade of unity. Israel’s government must be one for all of its citizens, which cares for all people under its control.

As the Jewish state, Israel should also be a unifying force within our global Jewish community, not one that offers a hegemony to a singular vision of Jewish practice.

If we are going to talk of a government of unity, it must genuinely follow that most Jewish tradition of valuing all the differences in society.

Making predictions about Israeli politics is a hopeless task and, while the election has passed, we still have no idea for certain what will happen next.

We should hope that what emerges is a government with the same values we hold dear in this month of Elul leading into Rosh Hashanah – a love of justice and compassion, in order to heal divisions instead of widening them.

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner is Senior Rabbi for the Movement for Reform Judaism

 

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