Yom Ha’atzmaut always unleashes an outburst of pride in the State of Israel, properly and justifiably so.
Yom Yerushalayim, three weeks later, with its flag march to the Wall, evokes the same feelings.

It is natural to be moved and inspired by the proliferation of flags across the streets and cities of our country and to bask in the astonishing achievements of a state that was born in struggle, built through tremendous self-sacrifice and commitment, and has produced for its citizens a prosperous, free, and (for the most part) Jewish society.

And then Yom Ha’atzmaut passes and we are confronted with problems that only seem to deteriorate with each year and with a political establishment that is locked into its own fanciful world, oblivious to the chaos it is fostering.

If a person wanted to destroy the Jewish state, there are several steps that he could take (with Iran just being a distraction).

First, he would cede large swaths of the country to hostile elements. As Defense Minister Benny Gantz noted in private the other day, large portions of the Negev and the Galil are being lost to the Jewish state. (As Defense Minister, one would think that he would do more than whine about it.) There are many parts of Israel today that are off-limits to Jews, “no-go” zones where Jews would be endangered if they entered.

We have become accustomed to the large red road signs that prohibit the entry of Jews to Area A in Judea and Samaria. It is not farfetched to believe that the day might soon come when we see those same road signs in pre-1967 Israel, warning Jews not to enter these areas for fear of their safety. He would also reinforce to the Arabs that the Temple Mount is theirs, not ours, and that they are the real sovereigns in the territory in which they live.

Second, he would want to fill the country with non-Jews. If one-quarter of Israeli citizenry is already non-Jewish, he would try to import tens and hundreds of thousands of others to further dilute the Jewish character of the State. And then he would turn a blind eye to the fact that a large percentage of this population opposes the very notion of a Jewish state and actively seeks to undermine it – and finds representation of this view in the Knesset.

There are not many countries in the world that would seat legislators committed to its downfall and who openly collaborate with its enemies. In fact, I cannot think of another country aside from Israel that permits it.

Third, he would embolden the Arabs in Israel to believe that they can violate the law with impunity, obstruct Jews who want to plant trees on state land, attack the security forces wantonly, taunt them recklessly, neither arrest nor prosecute them for their crimes, and permit illegal building wherever and whenever they desire. He would allow Arabs to steal cars from Jewish neighborhoods, and not investigate those crimes or arrest and prosecute the perpetrators. He would encourage chaos – and only enforce the law for and against Jews.

This is happening for two reasons. There is a palpable fear that enforcing the law against Arabs will provoke riots that will then be broadcast globally. It is as if only the Jewish state must accept a certain level of crime from its inhabitants, even if good people thereby suffer. Thus, Arabs can stone Jews, rampage through neighborhoods, harass Jews on buses and even trash the emergency room at Hadassah Hospital – without any consequences. On Reshet Bet, Hadassah’s Director even claimed – incredulously – not to know the identity of the saboteurs. Somehow, I think if the perpetrators were Haredim, he would know and the media machine would be blaring their identities. It is more than infantilizing them. It is allowing a hostile entity free reign to destabilize society and demoralize its good citizens. The second reason is below.

Fourth, our putative destroyer would adopt a policy of deterring terrorist attacks rather than reacting to them. Certainly, even deterrence requires great dedication and skill, and we pay a heavy price for that. But ultimately, we recognize that preemption is imperfect, and that some attacks will occur. But they are less likely to occur if the society that dispatched them felt the sting of their dastardly deeds as well. If they knew the price that would be paid, and paid immediately – loss of funding, deprivation of rights to the Temple Mount or in Hevron, increased settlement building, deportation of the guilty, etc. – they would be more likely to deter their own hostile agents.

Inevitably there is an element of collective punishment in all sanctions but presently, the only people being collectively punished are Israeli Jews. We are the ones who must be constantly mindful of potential rammers when we stand at intersections and potential stabbers when we walk the streets. Alas, we will be told, if we employ methods of deterrence then riots would inevitably take place, and no one wants that televised. And so the enemy wins.

Fifth, he would try to chip away at the Jewish character of the state, bending halakha to solve social problems caused by the leftist establishment and undercutting the spiritual leaders of the nation. To date, these efforts are making it more difficult to determine who is a Jew and what foods are kosher.

Finally, he would want to make the survival of Israel’s government dependent on the approval and acquiescence of the most hostile elements in the society. This way, these parties can assure their voters that they are achieving their nefarious goals through cooperation rather than through confrontation. Thus, they will milk the current government as much as they can for as long as they can – and we will pay the price. What Lenin said - that capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them – is gaining a strange resonance here as well.

We are consciously subverting the very foundations of the Jewish state of Israel, while the politicians seem to be blissfully unaware of the long term consequences of their actions and gloat over the short term consequences. It is self-interest above all. And this is the second reason why Arab marauders are allowed to intimidate and assault Jews with impunity: a strong hand will cause the government to collapse.

I recognize that stating that politicians are mendacious is like asserting that the sun rises in the east – but at least the sun only rises once a day. We are constantly descending to new depths. The government of “all the people” doesn’t even represent a majority in the Knesset. It endures, limping along to the detriment of the country, primarily so that one group should remain in power and one group should not be in power. Right-wingers who should know better continue to prop up the government, and they too should never again be allowed near the levers of power.

Note that I was not among those who were implacably opposed to this government. Many of the problems with which they are dealing were allowed to fester under previous governments, which also had a greater interest in preventing televised riots than strengthening Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel. But the current government’s “survival at all costs” mentality is a clear and present danger.

This is a wonderful country with wonderful people, and the pride we Jews take in it is well deserved. It is a fulfillment of the ancient prophecies. Certainly, there are challenges, as the land of Israel is only acquired through suffering (Berachot 5a). But like in some other democracies, the political class has failed us. It creates problems, and its solutions to other problems create even more problems. Perhaps the government intends to prove that we survive only through miracles and divine providence. Nevertheless, we cannot rely on miracles. We deserve better. And we need to fear less what our enemies might do to us than what we are doing to ourselves.

Rabbi Steven Pruzansky was a pulpit rabbi for 35 years in the United States, lives today in Israel, and serves as the Israel Regional Vice President for the Coalition for Jewish Values.