The Regulation Law in our living room and kitchen

For the first time in eight years we don’t have excuses like 'Obama doesn’t let' or 'We can’t get the White House angry.'

Sivan Rahav Meir ,

Sivan Rahav meir
Sivan Rahav meir
צילום: עצמי

1.

I still remember the atmosphere back then in Binyanei Ha’uma. Four years ago, Barack Obama was visiting here and didn’t want to speak in the Knesset – he preferred talking to thousands of Israeli college students from around the country (with the exception of students from Ariel University which is located over the Green Line, and whose admission was therefore prohibited).

Obama presented his well-organized Middle East agenda and basically asked his audience to start a revolt against their democratically elected government. He spoke about violence perpetrated by settlers which went unpunished, about Palestinians who don’t have the right to work their lands and about the younger generation in the Arab world with whom he met and who he claimed want exactly the same kind of life that young Israelis have.

After witnessing four years of atrocities in neighboring Syria and seeing Islamic terror perpetrated by possessed youth in Europe, I’m not sure he would say that last part again. By now we’ve learned not to view the world through the universal glasses of Western values.

I was reminded of Obama’s visit because what we saw on Wednesday in Washington was the complete opposite in so many ways. It’s not only what was said and the unwavering support that Israel received this week from the White House. It’s also the way it was said. Obama and his staff had total command of the details and were interested in engineering a new reality. It wasn’t for naught that Ya’alon had called John Kerry “messianic and obsessed.” Trump is not messianic – he’s a businessman and he is by no means obsessed. It’s doubtful if he’s even read one report about Israel and the Palestinians. “One state, two states,” he said to the cameras, “I like the one that both parties like.” You could almost see the wheels turning in his head as he was thinking: “As far as I’m concerned, three states could also work – you say four for the price of one? It’s a deal!”

It’s not the rich language of Obama that we’re used to. It’s Trump who, despite his minimal language skills, expresses himself very clearly: He likes and admires us very much (terrific), and we’re big kids who need to manage our affairs alone (now that’s a little more complex). “I will lead, I will navigate,” Netanyahu said as he boarded the plane, and Trump basically said to him: Right, you’ll lead and you’ll navigate. I don’t have the head for all the minutiae. Keep me out of it, I’m not about to call you every week to find out what’s new. I paid Sara a genuine compliment and that’s what counts, doesn’t it?

That’s why the question now is: What does Israel want? For the first time in eight years we don’t have excuses like “Obama doesn’t let” or “We can’t get the White House angry.” For the first time we’re supposed to not only be on the defensive but offer our own ideas and solutions as well.

And until that happens, we can just be content. Peace with the Palestinians? Perhaps. Meanwhile, it’s good we’ve made peace with the White House. It was great to see a warm handshake instead of feet up on the table. It makes me happy to see a president who goes out of his way to heap praise not only on Netanyahu but on us as well –the Jewish-Zionist-Israeli ideal of our generation.

That’s why some of the sour reactions seem out of place. Chairman of the Zionist Camp (HaMachane HaTzioni) Bougie Herzog has held recent meetings – which received media coverage – with the person who wrote against him on Facebook. It’s a great idea but it seems to me that he might have hijacked his own account since this is what he wrote after one of the most congenial and historic meetings between an Israeli leader and his American counterpart: “It was sad and embarrassing to see Netanyahu avoid the concept of separating from the Palestinians via the two-state solution.” What a shame. I doubt that former Ambassador Chaim Herzog would have written that. These are moments when the opposition should be displaying more statesmanlike behavior.

2.

For two days they were talking about the Regulation Law and annexing Judea and Samaria and applying Israeli sovereignty. The Jerusalem Conference, an annual religious Zionist event, took place this week against the backdrop of the Netanyahu-Trump meeting and dealt almost exclusively with political perspectives. But I think that it was after the politicians left the conference room that the audience’s interest level peaked, when a panel of experts discussed the issue of divorce in the age of abundance. Yes, it’s a troubling topic for the religious Zionist sector too. Yes, regularization and sovereignty are important – the regularization of relationships within the home and the sovereignty of parents over their children.

Professor Amos Rolider gave a penetrating lecture. He basically said that it all begins with how we raise our children. That is the foundation that enables the child to eventually have a family of his own and raise children.

“I’m going to say things that you don’t want to hear,” he told his religious audience. “But if I don’t, we won’t be able to improve the situation. It’s impossible to raise kids by remote control. Our generation has outsourced the job of raising our children. The child goes from one caregiver to the next – from kindergarten to babysitter to grandparents – and we’re paying a heavy price. The child is not experiencing a learning process whereby he’s being taught life skills, and when I talk about a learning process, the most important thing to teach is self-restraint. Delayed gratification. That’s the key and it comes before everything else.

But the problem is that the Israeli parent who loves his child so much has guilt feelings, so instead of playing the role of parent-educator, he plays the role of servant. During the few hours he spends time with his child, he is only a service provider: we must not anger the client; he needs to be a satisfied customer. And so parents are submitting to the tantrums of their two year old children. Today more than ever, children are growing up without coping skills.

We must take back the reins and invest time and energy in our most fundamental job – and it must be done within the framework of the family. Because people are reaching the stage when they are raising families with inadequate skills and limited abilities – and this is happening, surprisingly, at a time when delaying gratification should be at a peak: I mean most of what they sell in the supermarket is not healthy, there’s more than enough easily available alcohol and temptations abound. Given these circumstances, we have a monumental job: We need to practice authoritative parenting and be capable of saying ‘no’ to a child. That is the only way a child can develop his character.”

Translated by Shoshana Silver



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