Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Arab MK's are not at Fault, We Are

On Rosh Hashanah, all the creatures of the world pass in front of the Holy One, Blessed be He, like a herd of sheep. This corresonds not only to individuals but also to whole nations, as we say in the Mussaf prayer on Rosh Hashanah: "It is declared about the countries: which ones will fight by the sword and which will live in peace, which ones will have famine and which will be satiated." It is written, "Everybody is judged on Rosh Hashanah" [Tosefta] – both individuals and nations. It is necessary for us to repent not only at the level of individuals but also on a national level. On a personal level, let everybody do his or her own personal reckoning. At a national level, it is good and proper to perform this task openly, in public.
MK's who Openly Incite
During Operation Protective Edge, we encountered Arabic MK's and public leaders, citizens of our country, who succeeded again and again in upsetting us with their expressions and sometimes their actions (such as holding meetings in Qatar and Syria) in support of our Palestinian enemies and in favor of Hamas terrorism. They cried out openly, and in very strong language – without fear – against our country and its identity as the Jewish national homeland, and against our right of maintaining Jewish sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael.
Some of our leaders, and major segments of the media and of public opinion outlets, demanded that these outspoken people be brought to justice, that they be expelled from the Knesset, sent to Gaza, and more. But this is mere talk! There is no existing Basic Law that defines the State of Israel as a Jewish state! There is also no criminal law that prohibits acting – and certainly not talking – against the Jewish character of the country. Since there is no applicable law forbidding such actions, one is formally allowed to say or do anything in an attempt to change or annul the Jewish identity of the country.
It is true that paragraph 7a of the Basic Law of the Knesset prohibits candidates "if the objectives or actions of a person or a slate, explicit or implied, include one of the following: (1) Refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish and democratic state..." However, on two occasions the Supreme Court refused to allow the Central Elections Committee to reject the Balad Party as candidates for the Knesset. In addition, the law involves running for the Knesset and not actions that take place after the people or parties have been elected. What is prohibited for candidates is permitted after the elections have taken place! Is that reasonable? In addition, the mention of "a Jewish and democratic state" in the Basic Law for Freedom of Trade and Human Respect is not relevant to our discussion. In no way does it imply a prohibition of taking action to annul the Jewish and democratic status of the country.
Proposals Rejected because of a Lack of Daring
I am sorry to say that three laws that I proposed relevant to this subject were rejected. (1) Extending the prohibition for an MK or a party and continuing it after they have been elected. (2) A criminal law prohibiting an individual or a corporation from acting against the Jewish and democratic character of the country, similar to the laws against discrimination, incitement, revolution, and so on. (3) A law requiring every MK at the swearing-in of a new Knesset to declare "loyalty to the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state" instead of the current general oath "to remain faithful to the State of Israel."
Some of these proposals were blocked by the government, and some were approved for an initial reading but did not go any further, because of objection not only by the Arabs, Meretz, and the Labor Party, but also because of objections by rightist members of the government. Those on the right who objected claimed that if we would force Arab MK's to declare loyalty to a "Jewish and democratic state," our country would be attacked in international forums. Does this sound real to you? It was also said that a situation where candidacy is rejected is not the same as expelling an MK or a party after the elections. But doesn't this claim, which is correct as far as it goes, abandon the realm of the Knesset to people who reject our existence and our identity? As far as my proposal for an extension of the criminal laws, the legal advisors of the Knesset claimed that "there is no way to define what actions against Jewish identity are prohibited," ignoring similar definitions that exist which define incitement to discrimination or an act that might cause harm to the public welfare.
Some of the MK's and the leaders of the Arab population know very well how to exploit the outrageous loopholes in Israeli law, and they cause us to be afraid of defining our national Jewish identity in a clear law. Those who incite against our identity hide behind a slogan, "A country of all its citizens." And this includes not only Arabs but also the Jewish extreme leftists. In the realm of military security, there is ample criminal law, together with severe punishments, but in the matter of security of the spiritual and Jewish character of our country – no such thing exists! What good will it do if the IDF wins the battles, but if we lose the controversy about our Jewish identity?
The Breach is the Responsibility of the Leaders
Our sages have taught us, "It is not the mouse that is a thief, the hole is what makes a thief" [Gittin 45a]. The ultimate guilt is not that of the one who stole something but is rather the fault of the conditions that made the theft possible. The guilt must be sought in the overall system, not in the specific person who failed. "A breach calls out to a thief," it invites him to make an appearance! A lack of public courage and closing our eyes to the need for appropriate legal means – all of this encourages internal threats to maintaining our true identity. Trying to escape from our responsibilities is a natural trait of mankind. And the mouse is an appropriate allegory in this case too! It is not the Arab MK's who are at fault, we are really the ones to be blamed! Let us hope that the new year will bring a time when we courageously defend our identity, without mixing in any feelings of inferiority.

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