Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Rabin - Leave The Man To Rest!

Through his murder, Yitzchak Rabin z"l has become the greatest, most admired of Israel's old battler men. Not admired by all might I add. Many who have suffered as result of the terrorism since Oslo believe that he and friend Shimon brought with them the tradition of capitulation, of giving and not receiving.

We have frankly been up to our eyeballs in Rabin this week. It would not be a bad thing if the focus was right. Bill and Hillary arrive in the coming days, as will other dignatories as Israel officially marks ten years since the horrific act that still has everyone guessing, dreaming up conspiracies and the like. The security failures have been debated again this year - take a look at the frightening video on this site. It's in Hebrew but you'll understand.

More than the security peculiarities, each Rabin Memorial Day greets us with the left, right, center, stupid and ridiculous trying to blame the other for the murder and everything that has gone wrong in their lives since. In my opinion, Rabin belonged to all Israelis and simply because one (or a few) religious right-wing Jews wanted to get rid of him does not immediately place all religious or all right-wing or any Jew for that matter outside a society who wish to remember the man he was and what he contributed to his country.

Sadly though, we talk alot and debate even more. What frustrates me more than anything is the endless publishing of opinion pieces that delve into "what we have learnt in the last 10 years", "whether Israelis have taken the message of the murder with them" and so on and so forth. Frankly I'm fed up with the analysis. Find something else to write about or better still - do something about it!

The Israeli media is so skilled and experienced in winding up the crowd for a good fist fight. What I have learnt in the last 10 years is that segments of Israeli society get their kicks out of using Rabin's death as a means of alienating others and as a means of creating even more walls across Israeli society.

Others are making moves to break down barriers. Rabin would have liked us to be saying and doing the things that are now appearing. Recently, a famous Religious-Zionist Rabbi (who I will not name because I did not hear him say it first hand), made the observation that many non-religious and left-wing Israelis could not identify with Gush Katif settlers and neither can they identify with those on the West Bank. The Rabbi feels this is due very much to the fact that the Religious-Zionist population has built many yishuvim for religious people only. The ultra-Orthodox do the same. His opinion is that the dati-leumi crowd must begin to reintegrate fully (not just in the workplace) and once again become the bridge between the secular and the religious like they once were. If we live different worlds, miles apart, how can we expect our brothers and sisters to understand our faith, our communities, our needs and our ideals?

I am in total agreement with him and hence my excitement at spending some Shabbatot in Tzur Hadassa where a new Ashkenazi community has been established in peace with neighbors who are mostly traditional or secular. Here, Israelis and olim are stepping outside their comfort zone. The work of Rabbi Levi Cooper and the community members has been exciting to see, a pleasure to experience and a taste of what could arise across the Land of Israel.

Of course it might be more comfortable at first to live with homogenous neighbors who think like us. But at the end of the day, this does very little for Jewish unity and for showing others the value of a Jewish, Zionist or Torah way of life. Secular Israelis should consider evaluating how they build their environment too.

Additionally, as traditional societal bridge-builder, we have the National Religious Party (HaMafdal) on the way to allowing non-religious Israelis to become members of the party and even to stand as MKs. It is a risk and a shaking of Mafdal foundations and one that will make many feel uncomfortable. Nonetheless it is a brave move which focuses on life beyond settlement and seeks to gather wider support for important Mafdal policies especially in the welfare and education spheres.

Yes we have much work to do but friends, it should be done without Rabin. We can always learn from him and his murder but we should let him rest now. Enough of hurtful analysis! He would not have wanted us to shoot him and each other in the back every time we mark November 4th. Rather, he would want us to put down the pen and pick up the hand of another Israeli - to walk forward and to build onwards, upwards and together.


Anonymous said...

One thing that has been rarely touched on by these debates is the spurious nature of the religious-secular divide. This divide was created and perpetiated by those who do live in these bubbles at either end and consider themselves totally one or the other. The fact is there is a massive block of people who don't consider themselves either religious or secular, but somewhere inbetween. In fact many wouldn't even need to identify themselves.
As someone who prays in many different Synagogues I can say that there have been many times that I have sat next to a guy who is wearing earings, ripped jeans and who clearly does not cover his head full time, but there he is.
When I was in the army, base after base, when we would call for a minyan there would be the most unlikely candidates to come forward, in fact many wouldn't even need a siddur.
There are millions of Jews like this, they just don't happen to be found in the 'decision making' places.
Does noone ask themselves how a religious party like Shas can receive a sixth of the electorate. The religious-secular divide is largely a myth. This is not to say we shouldn't extend a hand to all Jews and be united as Mikee proposes, but let's really examine this myth and we will find it wanting.

Michael Lawrence said...

Anonymous - your points are very valid. I have always argued that that the statistic that 20% of israelis are religious and that's it is a falsehood. So many Israelis in fact fit into so many categories that it is difficult to label anyone and place them in a nicely shaped identity box.
Still the divide does exist, mainly I feel as a result of unhelpful commentators and public figures who like to "encourage the crowd".

KICreaders! How about adding a link to the KICblog from your blog/site? - thanks!