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July, 25 2023

07/25/2023 02:10:32 PM


Monday morning news came through of the vote by members of the assorted parties in Israel’s coalition cabinet and government to restrict the power of the BAGATZ—Bet Din haGavo’a, Israel’s highest court. Since early in the history of the State of Israel, the justices there have upheld the highest standards of legal thought and practice. They have made surprising approvals and stunning rejections of multitudes of issues critical to the very success of Israel as a democracy and symbol of a society pursuing justice.

I mourn for their restriction, as much as—perhaps more deeply than—for the Temple destroyed at this time of year millennia ago. The Israel I encountered in 1970 might no longer exist. It is in many ways greatly improved, despite opposition and ill-treatment by an array of opponents. The chalutzim who first built a modern country, have been supplanted by the efficient, creative, hardworking, and successful silicon wadi industries. The desert blooms because of dedication to that renewed land. They all deserve better from a government elected and formed by a long-standing and well-established democratic process.

Success can come with a price. The socialistic inclination of the early kibbutz movement, the
empowerment, the quest for fairness by Histadrut (the labor movement), and the struggle to provide educational excellence in all areas of academia lend status to Israelis. Their reputation and achievements doubtless will be reflected in the way Jews are treated around the world.
The glowing paean has been shadowed by the success of the 1967 Six Day War that placed the areas designated in the 1947 Partition Plans for the Palestinian state. Especially in recent years, there has been an acceleration of settlement activity—often by newly arrived Israelis from the diaspora. The territories, in the central highlands, Jordan Valley, and the Gaza Strip, have become flashpoints of unrest, Ill-governed by their elected leadership (the Palestinian Authority and Hamas), more interested in unrest than the development of economically viable societies. For Israelis, the task of maintaining some order has been soul-stealing.

In texts through the many generations of Jewish exile, the phrase ‘Al chatoteinu…’— because of our sins—is recurrent. We read that the Second Temple fell to Rome when Sin’at Chinam—baseless hatred—won out over civility. Have those times returned? Is the Knesset in its edifice near Givat Ram, the Hebrew University and the Shrine of the Book now vulnerable as Bet haMikdash became during the first days of Av in 70ce?

Sha’alu shalom Yerushalayim—ask of the good state of Jerusalem.
I expect her inhabitants to be models of the highest of human endeavors.

Mon, October 2 2023 17 Tishrei 5784