Israel's election shows we have all become distracted from the goal of peace

We British Jews should not just let an inconclusive result stand; we must refocus Israel's attention on peace

September 18, 2019 20:45

It’s a draw — or what we call in Hebrew a teiku.  After a second election this year, Israeli voters have again brought a result that shows a clear lack of societal consensus.

One thing not in doubt is that Israel, like many other countries, is divided.

There is a key element of Talmudic discourse for just this situation. When arguments and debates fail to reach a conclusion, the Talmud tells us to “let it stand”, or agree to a teiku.

In the case of the Israeli electorate, it seems that the moment has come to declare a “teiku”, to step aside and allow the President to lead politicians in sorting it out amongst themselves, in order to form a coalition government.

However, for Israeli-British citizens such as myself, and for those around the world who care about the moral standing of the Jewish state, we might feel that all we can do right now is take that Talmudic advice, and let it play out.

The real Israeli political teiku has been allowed to happen for too long. In the midst of the campaigning and the arguing, debates have been fraught, but the primary focus has been questionable.

While we can’t dictate what residents of Israel should care about, the majority of Jews in Britain want a two state solution, and we feel increasingly isolated from an Israeli political sphere that has forgotten or rejected this idea.

It seems that the fight between Gantz and Netanyahu has reached a teiku in the peace process. Debates centred around personalities and different approaches to continuing the status quo. Key issues during this campaign were marijuana and corruption.

Until the peace process and the occupation — which has to end to bring about two independent states — are once again the key issues of Israeli elections, nothing will substantially change for the better.

As well as being two-staters, most British Jews are also progressively-minded Zionists. And so the importance we place on peace has much deeper roots than merely being a pragmatic response to our current situation. It is a core part of our values, both as Jews and as Zionists.

If, in the broadest sense, we simply let events play out in Israel, we’re letting down that country and ourselves and the Jewish people. We cannot allow the corrosive occupation to creep ever forward, to pass us by.

We cannot allow the teiku, the draw, the passive acceptance of a lack of peace and an occupation to be normalised even more.

It is our role, our duty, our mitzvah, as diaspora Jews, to encourage our beloved Israel away from a fortress mentality and towards peace.

The term teiku is an acronym for “let Elijah the prophet decide”. The peace process cannot end up in the basket of a future harbinger of the Messianic age, the Prophet Elijah, or with Israel’s politicians alone, or resting on some election years down the line.

We have become distracted to our detriment, to the detriment of Israelis and Palestinians.

As diaspora Jews in partnership with Israel, our role is to refocus Israel’s political attention on peace before the relative luxury of “letting things stand” is no longer an option.

September 18, 2019 20:45

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