Thursday, August 6, 2020 -
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Time for unity

The jokes addressing the as-of-now stalemate result in Israeli elections are starting to roll in. Just an example, someone posted “I’m going to sleep. Wake me up when we have a coalition.” Responses to the comment : “that’s not sleep, that’s a coma,” “enjoy the hibernation,” “competing with Mr. Rip Van Wrinkle?”, “Sleeping Beauty,” and “anything to sleep through Yom Kippur fasting and Yom Kippur sermons.”

The deja vu is real. Again, election results that are too close to call.

It’s last April all over again. Apparently, Israel truly seems divided as to who should lead as the next prime minister.

It seems like a unity government is the way to go. The only problem is that practically every leader of every party has said it’s highly unlikely. Throughout campaign season, it was made known with whom various leaders refused to form a coalition with. Unfortunately, the fragmented spirit again marked this second campaign. “Mo’ed Bet,” as it’s known. Effectively, Israel has been in campaign mode for half a year now. This only serves to fragment and erode the fabric of society.

I wanted the results of this campaign to be definitive, if only so that Israel could move forward to the next chapter, leaving slogans and campaign discourse behind.

A functioning government addressing the issues of the day could return the Israeli discourse to “normal” — yes, confrontational and perhaps even abrasive, but not toxic and fragmented to the degree that it is now.

But it seems that Israel is back to square one.

Now that the election is over, I still hold out hope that all those statements about who leader X refuses to build a coalition with will become moot. It’s time to move forward. Time to build coalitions with MKs one never dreamed of sitting with. Time to bridge gaps and at least aim to build some unity. That’s the priority now.

Ultimately, the Jewish people — we are one people. With one tiny scrap of land in this world.

Witnessing from afar the process of Israeli elections unfolding twice in half a year was nothing short of astounding.

For 2,000 years we yearned for this independence in our land.

Today, we have the ability to choose who should lead Israel. It is nothing short of historic.

With all the terrible tension, thankfully, Israel is a healthy democracy functioning with great vitality; a place where the prime minister is chosen peacefully by the people.

Watching all those old-school cardboard boxes colorfully wrapped, with a slit down the middle of the cover, enabling a piece of paper, a ballot, to drop through the slot, is so endearing.

Here is Israel, Startup Nation, but on election day the vibe is Home Made, in a good way. Kind of like when you craft a home made card or gift for a loved one, versus a sleek, chic purchased one. The election stations stand as an ode of home made love of Israel, the democratic state.

In the meantime, a motif emerging from exit polls seems to be a stronger center-left voice. It’s interesting to note the increase in Arab voting and Arab seats in the next Israeli parliament. How does that square with the constant anti-Israel calls of it being an apartheid state?

The exit polls seem to point to many voters returning to their niche parties, versus the last elections that was more pragmatic, leaning centrist. Time will tell how this second “Mo’ed Bet” election fared.

In terms of slumbering until a coalition is built — wake up from thy slumber! It is Elul. Selichot, which in the Ashkenazi tradition comes after the the appearance of three stars in the sky as the Sabbath departs this week.

The blast of the shofar is heard each morning. In an ironic turn, perhaps in addition to the shofar’s call for repentance, this year it may also be the call to Israelis to encourage a strong, unifying Jewish leadership in the land of Israel. With elections behind us, the daily call of the shofar is unequivocal: to wake up from our slumber and to navigate the twists and turns of repentance, journeying in Elul toward Rosh Hashanah as we learn to sit together and truly listen to one another.

Copyright © 2019 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Tehilla R. Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

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