Voting in Israel Part 2: Needed: A Judaic National Goal

Israel must take her future into her own hands with a distinctive Judaic national goal.

Prof. Paul Eidelberg

OpEds Paul Eidelberg
Paul Eidelberg
Benjamin Netanyahu is perhaps the most intelligent Israeli Prime Minister, but intelligence is not equivalent to practical wisdom.

The people of Israel are still waiting for a Prime Minister to enunciate a Judaic National goal. This requires more than intelligence. It requires even more than wisdom, or rather, it requires the wisdom born of moral courage—the courage to stand alone.

To stand alone has been the lot of the Jewish people to this day, as prophesied in the Book of Numbers. How can it be otherwise as long as Israel lacks a distinctively Judaic National Goal? For by lacking such a Judaic goal Israel resembles Sweden, which recently renounced the Swedish tradition and officially adopted multiculturalism as its “national”identity.

Multiculturalism was precisely the goal of Israel’s Supreme Court under its former and most influential president, Aharon Barak. Barak, reputedly Israel’s most intelligent judge, overturned a ban on pornography on grounds no one really knew the difference between pornography and art. Evidently he had never seen a work of Leonardo or a Botticelli. Still, he was reputedly most intelligent, even though he had a blind eye for art.

Similarly, Israel’s reputedly most intelligent prime minister has turned a blind eye to the difference between good and evil; for just as Aharon Barak has dignified pornography, Mr. Netanyahu has dignified wickedness every time he met with the leader of the murderous and mendacious leader of the Palestinian Authority.

Alas, the true, the good, and the beautiful have not been shining forth lately from Jerusalem, even when Jews celebrated Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights.

Year after year they have elected a government that has subordinated truth and goodness—say intellectual and ethical monotheism—to the will-o’-the-wisp goal of peace with an enemy that exalts war and uses little Arab children as human bombs.

All decent nations seek peace. But that’s why peace is not a distinctive national goal except for nations that have lost their national identity. A distinctively Jewish national goal must be derived from the teachings of the Prophets and Sages of Israel. Only such a goal imbue the people of Israel with a strong sense of Jewish national pride and purpose—and nothing like this is emphasized and spelled out by what is called Israel’s “national camp.”

Israel can have only one serious and comprehensive national goal; and strange as it may seem, Jews can learn about this goal from Christians! I refer to Christian Hebraists, who called ancient Israel a “Hebraic Republic.” It was the Hebraic Republic of antiquity that Catholic and Protestant Hebraists such as Bossuet, Cunaeus, and Sigonio of the 17th century deemed the most just and wisest of all polities.

Only the goal of an authentic Hebraic Republic can rally a large and enduring majority of the Jewish People. Progress toward this goal should proceed in a step-by-step manner: it should result from a set of specific, interrelated government policies whose significance would be evident to the people of Israel.

Obviously, a politician tainted by Oslo or who has endorsed a Muslim-Arab state in Judea and Samaria has not shown a desire to pursue this goal (to put it mildly).

Israel’s only justification, its raison d’être, is to be a Jewish Republic, which Samuel Langdon and Ezra Styles, the presidents, respectively, of Harvard and Yale, recommended to the American people at the outset of their War of Independence from Great Britain.

Accordingly—and forgive me for saying this so often—Israel needs an entirely new system of governance, one that will:

(1) Enact a law that affirms Israel’s raison d’être as a Jewish Republic, one that rejects multicultural moral relativism.

(2) Enact, as a legal qualification for voting in Israeli elections, an oath of loyalty to Israel as a Jewish Republic.

(3) Enforce the 1952 Citizenship Law which empowers the Minister of Interior “to revoke the citizenship of any Israel national that commits an act of disloyalty to the State.” (The term “act” should be defined in such a way as to safeguard freedom of speech and press.)

(4) Enforce Basic Law: The Knesset, which prohibits any party that rejects Israel as a Jewish Republic.

(5) Consistent with the example of Japan, which restricts citizenship to children born of Japanese parents, amend the “grandfather clause” of the Law of Return to curtail the flow of immigrants into Israel whose parents are not Jewish if they have not converted. (The money saved should be used to strengthen the bond between Jewish and non-Jewish citizens already in Israel.)

(6) Require all public-supported schools, including those attended by non–Jews, to include Jewish studies in their curricula.

(7) Revise the parliamentary electoral laws to make Members of the Knesset individually accountable to the voters in geographic/constituency elections, and, in the process, replace the inept and corrupting system of multiparty cabinet government with a unitary Executive or Presidential system accompanied by candidate vetting including political experience, education, military service, and financial holdings.

(8) Change Basic Law: The Judiciary, by empowering the President, advised by a council learned in Jewish and secular law, to nominate Supreme Court judges, subject to confirmation by the Knesset in open public inquiry.

(9) Require the Supreme Court to abide by the Foundations of Law Act 1981, which was intended by the Knesset to make Jewish law “first among equals” vis-à-vis the various systems of jurisprudence used by the court.

If these measures are carried out, the people of Israel would actually see their country making yearly progress toward the goal of an authentic Jewish Republic. A Constitution would follow as the culmination of a Judaic National Goal.

Notice that the achievement of this goal, unlike the pursuit of peace, does not depend on the vainly sought benevolence of other nations. In her quest for peace, Israel has been pursuing a mirage. Her political and intellectual leaders do not understand that it is not within the power of any nation or group of nations to give Israel peace. Israel must take its future into her own hands.

In the final analysis, to achieve genuine and abiding peace, Israel will have to recognize the purpose for which it was created some 3,300 years ago, and that is to sanctify the Name of the Creator. That is precisely what the Hebraic Republic of antiquity did, and that is why Christian Hebraists deemed the laws and institutions of this Republic as superior even to those recommended by Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero with whom these learned Hebraists were quite familiar. They extolled Jewish Exceptionalism.

The writer heads the Israel-America Renaissance Institute