I am a new Oleh from the United States who had the privilege to vote in my first Israeli election earlier this month. While some parties were very clear about where they stood on certain issues, others were not so clear. So while each of the parties of the coalition are jockeying for their respective cabinet positions, to me it is very important to know what the coalition will do after the dust settles. I would like to share with readers the concerns of a moderate religious American Oleh who believes in strengthening Israel's security, in it being a solid Jewish democratic state, and wants the very high cost of living in Israel to be addressed.
Torah is key to my life. However I recognize there are many Israelis who do not hold the Torah core. These Israelis need to respected and their way of life should not restricted because they do not follow what I follow. I wish everyone kept Shabbos and kosher, and had my family values, but it just is not reality. What this means to me is that is if someone wants to travel on Shabbos that should be their decision. The State should not promote travel, but if someone wants to start a private transportation solution for Shabbat they should continue to be allowed to do that .
Public school education needs to include the teaching of the beauty of Jewish tradition. Education in our public schools should not include topics that are antithetical to Judaism, such as gender transformation. However those adults who decide to live LGBT lifestyles, need to be respected and given the same rights and freedoms as everyone else. Chabad has shown that through love and understanding, secular and unaffiliated Jews are returning to their traditions, not because a hammer hit them over the head but through education, compassion and respect. Do not forget we are all brothers.
Security is also a key issue and I have been very impressed with the intelligence that Israel is able to collect to stymie thousands of attempts to harm Israelis. However I am also disturbed by the lack of response to terrorists who throw stones at our soldiers and civilians. These projectiles can be just a dangerous as a bullet . I hoping the government will take a strong position in acting to prevent these acts of terror, deterring them, punishing perpetrators severely and holding those who help terrorists in any way accountable for such violence.
While Israel is a member of the global community, it needs to ignore (in a nice way, but firmly), demands by our friends that jeopardize our security . Iran is at the top of the list, but the Palestinian Arabs, Lebanon and Syrian situations are other issues that we need to deal with. We cannot have security based on pipe dreams, but on firm and unbreakable commitments to our safety. We also need to more actively help our Arab Israeli citizens fight the crime that exists in their cities.
As everyone knows, the cost of living is very high in Israel. Most of it is because of the bureaucracy and regulation that inhibit competition. Most of these regulations seem to stem from the socialist beginnings of the State which still protects many of the near monopolies that exist today. We need to strive for an open capitalist economy. The Israel government should encourage foreign companies like Walmart and Costco (in the retail area) to open up branches in Israel by radically changing antiquated regulations and providing companies from all sectors with incentives to compete in Israel.
While these are only 3 areas I am hoping the new government will address, there are many more. I hope they build a coalition soon and wish them them the best, with the hope that I won’t have to vote for a new government for another 4 years.
Paul Bloom is a retired IBM executive from Edison NJ who made Aliya a year and a half ago. He currently lives in Jerusalem with his wife Ettie.