November 24, 2016 23:02

Remember them? The group which brought about change in Poland. Israel needs some of that. It needs to stop appeasing the well-healed, yet subsidised to the hilt, zealots.

Hanging on by their fingernails, the middle classes who are being squeezed so hard from all angles find they have little time for others as they struggle to pay the rent or the mortgage and battle against the ever-increasing cost of living.

The poor and disenfranchised feel as if they have less and less of a stake in society, so they think only about survival in a harsh and uncaring society that has abandoned them. It is no wonder that they have little time or sympathy for foreign workers and refugees, who find themselves at the bottom of this collapsing society that today is anything but civil.

Our young look at the society they are supposedly going to inherit and wonder about the point of it all. What role models can they hope to emulate? What future should they expect? What is their incentive to serve in the army if, as they see it, Israel today is all about looking out for “No. 1”?

It’s true that many of these problems are common throughout the developed world, but Israel is no ordinary country. Indeed, perhaps it’s our obsession with becoming an ordinary country that has led us astray. We need to take a serious look at ourselves and decide what we want to be, because (in case you hadn’t noticed) we already have a host of very grown-up problems to deal with.

I do not crave times gone by for the sake of nostalgia. I just believe that in our race to “progress,” we have discarded some of the best things about us. These elements need to be reintroduced for the 21st century.

It’s time to recapture the spirit that built this country. It’s time that the word Zionism stopped being perverted to serve the interests of narrow and extreme minorities. True Zionism is about ensuring a Jewish democracy for all its citizens, where the values and traditions that represent the best of Judaism direct our actions and behavior to the betterment of humanity. Israel is a small country living under difficult circumstances, with a diverse, multifaceted character. We need each other in order to flourish. If so few succeed while the majority can only struggle to survive, we will all fail. If we work together, with success for all as a genuine goal, there is no end to what we can achieve. For such achievements to mean something, however, they have to serve society as a whole.

The erosion of our core values and of our civil society is not irreversible, but it must be addressed. It may take our leaders some time to catch up and understand that they work for us, and not the other way around. They will no doubt need to be pushed. However, we all have a part to play. For starters, we can pay more attention to what goes on around us and how events affect others. It may not sound like a great deal, but you’d be surprised how much can be achieved with just a little.

November 24, 2016 23:02

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