Who is *really* ready for אחדות in 5783?

די Sign at first Jerusalem Knesset protest

It’s a big week ahead. The timing shouldn’t be lost on any of us.

We’re on another eve of Temple destruction anniversary.

We’re on another eve of Knesset voting the judicial reform issue.

Will the labor unions strike again? Is the IDF really at risk of falling apart? Will Bibi’s new pacemaker slow the pace of this march to further civil disunion?

I saw a tweet the other day by someone claiming that what the anti-reform camp is doing is not אחדות (unity) and no matter what, we should be striving for that, always.

(Ah, Tisha B’Av weighs heavy on the soul as we skid towards it.)

Everyone’s a delicate flower in 2023/5783. The right side of the pendulum can’t fathom why the left side can’t sit down and shut up and accept basic mathematics. The left side is still in shock that the country has landed in this demographic domain.

Newsflash. Neither side is ready for אחדות. Because neither side has eyes or ears fully open, and even if they did, where are our hearts?

I’d like to gently remind how complex our nation state and the state of our nation are.

Just because in the democratic modern nation state of Israel an elected prime minister with a complex majority wants something, doesn’t mean a large ‘minority’ of citizens will automatically fall in line for ‘אחדות’.

And victimhood is itself a pendulum that ever swings, as some numbers swell while long lost dreamy years of liberal, leftist, Zionist yore further recede in national lore.

(If we’re going to play numbers games, I’d implore centrist/right of center peers with heads in the sand to come up for air and starting looking a little further out across the sea of time).

When I hear brethren discuss אחדות, I tend to assume they mean it with regard to the state of our nation. That’s not the same as our nation state (as much as hasbara wants it to be).

Achdut is complicated.

And earned.

And rare.

You know what’s less complicated and unearned and rare?

The attention we allow the power hungry pigs in politics, and the modern corporate news complex, to grab from us. ‘Us vs them’ is fuel – a virtual black gold – that tribal politicians thirst for to survive in the public eye. The US has done a great job of cultural exports over 80 years and here we are, sucking up its most dangerous: Corporate media, social media, a piggish brand of partisanship that may have once had some glory in earnest political discourse but today is a disgusting, ignorant power grab, with eyeballs of the citizenry reduced to disposable pawns.

The people of a democracy are one of the branches of checks and balances. And we, the Jewish people, are eternally interconnected, no matter what political or religious camp we sit in. How many of us sit ‘here’ with a brother or cousin or parent over ‘there’? How many take a moment to imagine life for our extended families if the pendulum swings too far?

If we cut each other off, how will we hone the ability to recognize fear and desperation in a fellow Jew?

For resolving… אחדות?

Remember that as we pause Channel 14 to sit on the floor and pour proverbial ash over our heads this Wednesday night.

Remember this fear and desperation as we pick up our flagpoles and march to the Knesset one last time.

It has gone both ways. It goes both ways. It always will be universal.

Meanwhile, it’s rich when one side of the population pendulum decides the other one is being unfair, close minded, for having an opposite view. We all are subject to that pendulum’s honeyed call – we all are human.

We can’t demand אחדות. The same way we can’t claim to be a democracy and then make each other wrong for choosing to live or not live a certain way (within a democratic structure, right?).

Remember that central question we discussed so often growing up: What kind of democracy is Israel exactly? What would that look like, done with intention? Do most Israelis want Israel to be a democracy? Do most of us even understand what’s at stake for this country in either case?

Has any majority – of any Israeli demographic slice – sat and done the goddamned math?

Can Israel be a democracy and if so or if not, what does that mean? How is it governed? Are there checks and balances? An agreed upon set of ideals?

Or just an everlasting pendulum swing of desperate drama, diseased discourse… until we are weakened enough to be overcome by Jew haters,

like every. other. period. in. our. pockmarked. history.

It’s a series of questions we’ve been asking for seven decades (I’ve been around for four of them!) kicking that ‘Zionist dream’ labeled can down the road…

and guess what?

The can stopped rolling.

And it’s not a can, it’s a grenade.

So who is ready to have an actual conversation about the future of the state? About the nation’s future?

It requires the smallest amount of אחדות to sit at that table. From there, we could maybe start earning more.

Maybe something about this week’s ash would be a wake-up call, if anyone is listening.

My fear – and the whispered fear of so many others – is,

it’s too late.


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