I don’t normally write about local Israeli politics here, but this article in today’s Yisrael Hayom, “Withering Heights” by Amiad Taub, hit so close to my heart that I cannot ignore it. I don’t intend this to be a party political broadcast (OK, perhaps I do) but I think it is essential reading for national religious citizens.
The article addresses the apathy in the National Religious Zionist political camp (in my opinion caused by the split between the NRP and Ichud Leumi) which has brought nothing but a dramatic fall in Knesset seats in the last couple of elections, a consequent loss of political power and effective political defeat for a a huge, politically active and economically and socially contributing section of Israeli society.
Here are some excerpts, and I have highlighted the parts that I think are the salient points, but I urge you to read it all and get active!
This week, the garden will begin slowly filling up with small and large seeds. Tiny elementary school-age seeds will begin marching toward the national-religious flowerbed, as will idealistic high school-age flowers, full of convictions.
For several years now, our educational flowerbed has been drying up. The political power driving religious Zionism has been dying out, and the results on the ground are palpable. If anyone thinks that the two things are unrelated, and that other parties will also ensure the quality of our educational system, they are wrong. The high tuition at Zionist religious institutions, the encroachment of unacceptable phenomena like drug use and alcohol abuse, the separatist attitudes and the immensely high cost of supplemental educational programs (like afternoon programs for preschoolers) — all these are signs that our flowers are dying, and they are a direct result of a dwindling political presence.
Over the years, the National Religious Party has taken the time and effort to establish, plant and nurture glorious educational flowerbeds — starting from the national religious education system, the yeshivot and ulpanot (religious schools for boys and girls respectively), through the Bnei Akiva youth movement, educational colleges, Bar-Ilan University all the way to the hesder yeshivot (which incorporate Torah study with active military duty), pre-military preparatory courses, religious military programs, national service and more. But the party is teetering on the edge of the precipice, politically speaking, causing our remarkable flowerbed to dry out.
The ungrateful attitude toward the national-religious political arena, which, despite its negative reputation, was the force behind the educational flowerbeds that brought us all up, is endangering all of us and creating the false impression that the beautiful, value-driven flowers that have blossomed here do not need a national-religious gardener.
There is a direct causal link between the decreasing number of national-religious representatives in the Knesset and the rising cost and declining quality of religious education in Israel. No other party will nurture this flowerbed the way its own national-religious flock would. If we fail to realize this now, we will all be soon faced with a broken system that isn’t capable of nurturing our children.
As of now, it doesn’t really matter which gardener parents choose to water their flowers, or what kind of flowers each parent chooses to raise. Soon enough we will be able to choose between the different gardeners — either the New National Religious Party or the National Union — in the next election. But for now, the most important thing is to understand that to provide our flowers with a strong steady flow of water and enough sunlight, we have to take part in building the central political watering system. It is only in the political arena that decisions are made on the character and type of education offered to Israel’s children as a whole and to national religious children in particular.
The time has come to look out for the welfare of our flowers, because the flowerbed, much like Israel’s water supply, is drying up.
At the same time as I was reading the above article, a request to participate in an internet survey landed in my inbox. I don’t usually bother to get involved in these surveys, but this one caught my interest. It is very short and simply asks if you think the two national religious parties, the Mafdal (National Religious Party, or Habayit Hayehudi – Jewish Home – in its latest incarnation, and the Ichud Leumi – National Union – should rejoin forces once more and form a single party. I’m not embarrassed to inform you that I think a reunited party will be the best thing for the National Religious public, for all the reasons set out in the article and in my introduction at the beginning of this post.
If you’re interested in taking the survey, click here.
One can register to receive more information about this campaign at this link here (apparently run by Arutz Sheva).