Jerusalem, We Have a Problem

Friday, March 01, 2019 |  David Lazarus

Sometimes, I wish I was on that Israeli spacecraft that left for the moon this week. But alas, here I am still bouncing around the sometimes inspiring, mostly frustrating, not-so-merry-go-round of another Israeli election cycle.

Candidates are once again flattering themselves with how they will miraculously protect our nation, heal our divisions and care for our every interest. And in the next breath they spend more time attacking their opponents than offering realistic solutions. We are left once again to choose sides, point fingers, shout about how horrible the other side is, and pick a candidate less bad than the very bad. Fly me to the moon…

In the past few days, most of the spewing from all sides has fallen on Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Empowerment). The right-wing party is being accused with the dreaded racism card and fears of Kahana coming back from the grave to haunt us. Is it racist to declare Israel a Jewish state and demand that all its citizens, including Arabs, pledge allegiance to our flag? Is it wrong to rid Israel of the terrorists and their supporters who openly call for our destruction and threaten our way of life?

One prominent rabbi (better not mention names) compared Otzma Yehudit to the Nazis. Around here that’s as low as you can go. To use such language is like spitting out a flea and swallowing a camel – you sink into your own self-destructive pit of ugliness.

As I write this, we just learned that Netanyahu will be tried on charges of possible corruption, and without stopping to breathe, the choruses of castigation from all political sides have been unleashed against our prime minister. Before the trial has even begun, the all-too-predictable scorn, accusations and unbridled finger-pointing have been loosed, filling the front pages of today’s dailies.

Why do we find it so difficult to turn our attention to the real and hard issues that we all struggle with in this nation? Why are we not talking about honest solutions to our defense needs, our overcrowded schools, hospitals and highways? Can we not lay down our constant battlecries against the other, and discuss together how we can help our young people, after they have risked their lives in army service to protect us, to find a good job or earn enough to buy an apartment in our insanely-overpriced housing market?

Or how about a few words on the soon-to-arrive US peace proposals? Has anyone heard a word about what Netanyahu, or any of the other candidates, think about the Trump/Kushner plan? It seems that our politicians have become so frightened of taking a stand on anything that they end up standing for nothing. In today’s political climate, it is easier to push your opponent down than to speak up and get clobbered with criticism.

Perhaps in some ways we find the malicious mudslinging smeared daily across our screens to be entertaining. Maybe we are enjoying a little too much the scandalous sensationalism of infighting because it reflects our own frustrations and anger? Either way, it is difficult to see how any politician would voluntarily give up the opportunity to insult and slur so long as we the people are willing to keep digesting its sludge.

Perhaps a trip to the moon is not such a bad idea after all. It’s quiet. No television, no telephones. I bet I’d get a much clearer view of the real issues we could be talking about, and maybe some real solutions, too. At least, I’ve heard, the earth looks a whole lot better from space.

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