Monday, March 27, 2006

Israeli Elections

I admit, I have not been keeping up with Israeli politics too much. Not being an Israeli citizen, I avoid the dilemma of having to figure out who the heck I would support, for which I am profoundly grateful. Still, I was deeply disturbed by the approach I read here. Granted, I think it is unwise to sell one's soul to any political party, but that's as far as I'm willing to go. The notion that all the parties are horrible, let's just ditch the whole mess and wait for Moshiach to sort things out seems to me to an affront not only to the premises of Zionism, but to the very foundations of our responsibilities in this world as Jews and as human beings.

Do I think that any of the parties is perfect? Do I think that there is any solution that will solve all of Israel's problems? Do I even believe that it is likely that we will find a leadership that will not unilaterally give up more land? No, I am afraid I do not. So what? Can we afford to wait on perfect?

Refusal to compromise, to discuss, to accept less than perfect is in itself a decision, and is usually like voting for a third-party candidate (in the American system, that is)- it only ends up lending support to the cause that you fear most. If we refuse to support the lesser of two evils, we often end up supporting the greater, and I think that this decision carries with it full moral culpability for the consequences.

This is the same mentality as the hard-core disengagement protesters. As unmitigated idealists, they could not accept an imperfect reality. There are people who, up to the last minute, simply did not believe that G-d would allow disengagement to occur. There would be lightning, there would be moshiach, there would be whatever it took, but disengagement would not be allowed to happen. But it was.

Moshiach isn't going to come to bail us out of our problems. Because that's our mission in life. We are put on this earth to deal with the darkness and the ugly realities to the best of our abilities, and throwing up our hands and waiting for G-d to swoop in is no more acceptable in the political sphere than it is in any other, no more acceptable than saying that there are some good points on either side of this halachic question, so we ought to wait for a bat kol. Which is not to say that moshiach cannot come tomorrow. Or that he will not. But he is not the answer to these difficult questions, any more than he was the answer to any other problem in Jewish history. Our current conflicts will be answered, as all previous ones have been, by mundane human means. And if we refuse to lend our hands towards directing the course of history, than all that means is that those we most oppose will have more of a say.

Do I trust any leader or party in Israel? No. Do I like the idea of possibly having to cede land and uproot communities? Of course not. Do I hope and pray that moshiach will come tomorrow and finally, finally straighten out all of these problems? Absolutely. Do I cling to this hope, turning my back on the tools and tasks that G-d has laid before us, shunning compromise at the expense of inviting total defeat, tossing my difficult decisions back into G-d's lap? No. I dare not.

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