Monday, August 16, 2010

A New Approach to the Chronic Left Turn

By Moshe Feiglin

Scene I
The Israeli family has answered the Settlerman family's invitation and is coming to their house for Shabbat. As soon as they arrive, the Settlerman's angrily eye the Israeli daughters' immodest attire. When Mr. Israeli's cell phone begins to ring in the middle of the Lecha Dodi Sabbath prayers, the cantor demonstratively stops the services. When Mr. Israeli goes out to smoke a cigarette at the end of the festive Shabbat meal, an entire delegation arrives to demand that the guests honor the settlement's ethical code or leave.

Scene II
The Israeli family has answered the Settlerman family's invitation and is coming to their house for Shabbat. Parts of their lifestyle totally contradict the values of the Settlerman family. But the hosts understand that the Israeli family lives with a different frame of reference and that they cannot judge them according to their own values or those of their settlement. The Settlermans also understand that if the Israelis came to them, it means that they understand that something is missing in their lives. The best way to explain to them that they need not look for what is missing at the settlers' doorstep is to relate to them according to the model in Scene I. But the Settlermans turn to the other extreme and decide to allow the Israeli family to act as they always do; to drive their car right up to their house on Shabbat, to turn on the television at full volume and to barbeque on Shabbat afternoon. The Israeli family decides to leave because they do not feel that the Settlermans have anything new to offer them.

How should the Settlermans have acted? The secret is not to try to rectify others, but to suffice with setting basic boundaries past which you no longer feel comfortable. (i.e. On Shabbat, please park your car by the entrance to the settlement) and to focus on the alternative. Of course, it is preferable to do all this with a smile.

Everything we have written till now could have appeared in any of the rightist or religious newspapers. Why are we writing about it in the weekly update?

Let us go ahead to Scene III
The Prime Minister of Israel decides to freeze the settlements for 10 months. Clearly, this is no less a transgression than lighting a cigarette on Shabbat. It is also clear that the Prime Minister is not motivated by hatred of the settlers. He is doing this because, just like in the example above, his frame of reference does not allow for a different solution. In his frame of reference there are Obama, the Turkish flotilla, Goldstone and the European boycott. In order to maneuver between all the pressures, he has to throw them a bone.

Is he right? Of course not!
Does his course of action lead to a solution? Not at all!

But that is how the PM sees reality. Sadly, that is also how the majority of Israelis see reality. Most of the nation is still living within the frame of reference in which women dress according to a different code, most people do not keep the laws of Shabbat and the nation's existential anchor (ridiculously) is Obama and not the G-d of Israel.

How have we dealt with this problem till now?
Judging by the results, not very successfully. We have likely made all the mistakes in Scene I and Scene II. Either we turned the struggle into the goal, or we made appeasement our goal. In either case, we have not tried to present the Israeli Family with a different life alternative. We have never tried to invite the Nation of Israel to us, or even more specifically - to bring our values system to the rest of the nation.

We must not give up on the continuation of building in Judea and Samaria. We must take positive action to ensure that the building freeze will not continue. But we must also remember that in the existing Israeli frame of reference, there is no other solution. It is no coincidence that the most rightist politicians turn left as soon as they get into the PM's chair. They do not have a frame of reference in which they could implement a different policy. Whether we conduct a public relations campaign or we block traffic - if we do not supply that new frame of reference, the final result will repeat itself.

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