- General Issues
- 2011 >
- Time to Negotiate the Northern and Southern Sectors of the Israeli-West Bank Border
- President Peres and Dr. Ashrawi: Thank You for Staying on Track
- Playing the Victim Card Will Not Bring Peace
- Negotiations By the Parties
- The World Should Help the Palestinian Hunger Striker
- ...and only afterwards move to discuss the topic of Jerusalem
- A Question of Accountability
- Israel Twisting in the Wind
- Netanyahu: Too Big for His Britches
- Netanyahu's "Israeli Comfort"
- How Shaul Mofaz Can Jump-Start the Peace Process
- Netanyahu on the Brink
- Time for Taking Stock
- Israel in Wonderland
- Whatever Happened to the Quartet?
- The Palestinians Want to Negotiate
- A Time for Hope and a Call for Restraint
- Israel Can Win in Gaza, But Not Now
- Congratulations to the New State of Palestine!
- Security and Borders: Both Required for Peace
- It Is Up to Israel to Restart Peace Negotiations
- Israel and Palestine: Changing the Terms of Agreement
- The Knesset Bill to Increase the Number of Women that Elect the Chief Rabbis Is Important for Jewish Women
- Proposal on Governance of the Holy Basin
- Time for Netanyahu to Reach Across the Aisle
- Tzipi Livni's Challenge
- Women Should Be Free to Pray at the Wailing Wall
- Proposed Highway through the Jordan Valley Will Backfire on Israel
- 2014 >
- We Should Applaud Herzog and Livni for Reclaiming Zionism
- The Next Israeli Government
- West Bank Citizenry and Receipt of Individuals of Palestinian Origin
- What Next for Israel?
- Palestinian statehood
- Mischief in the Trade Legislation would Hinder Progress
- What Next for America?
- Could American Firms Choose to Gradually Disinvest from Israel?
- Boycotting Israel is not anti-Semitism
- 2016 >
- 2017 >
- 2019 >
- About the Authors
Israel's Moment of Opportunity (cont.)
The Joint List Should Join the Government (cont.)
But somehow, someway, the era of Netanyahu now seems to be slowly fading away, as Gantz’s efforts to form a government is the first time in over 10 years for someone other than Netanyahu to be able to do so. This is Gantz's moment of opportunity. If he fails within his 28-day allotted time period, any other Knesset member will have the opportunity to form a government in 21 days, but that is very unlikely to happen. If not, then by sometime in March, Israel will have to go to its third election within a year’s time, something unprecedented in Israeli history.
While Gantz certainly is prepared for the eventuality and unpredictable possibilities of a third election early next year, this four-week period for him is a priceless opportunity to show his commitment to Israelis -- regardless of party affiliation, Jew, Christian or Muslim -- that he wishes to be a leader who will represent all Israelis and focus on healing in a society being torn asunder.
Such a political stance is not easy to come by given Israel's origins in 1948 and its extremely divided political history. But perhaps Gantz somehow senses that the old ways of the past will longer suffice for the next 70 years of Israeli history.
Israel's future hinges on inclusion, cooperation, collaboration, and upon the respect and humility of each contingent of Israeli society accorded to all the others. In particular, this means the respect of secular Jews toward the ultra-Orthodox, the respect of Jewish Israelis towards their Arab citizens and towards the Palestinians residing under military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.
At the end of an era when so much trust had been placed in hands of the single strong leader, a hopeful future rests on the community leaders who can initiate local programs to support the deep changes that are required in society.
Most importantly, it means the men within Israeli society, especially in its leadership, inviting and cherishing the contribution of women to Israel’s civil society for the sake of its future.
No one can predict what may happen while Gantz attempts to form a governing coalition, or if Israel will indeed be compelled to go to a third election, but one thing is clear: Gantz may be the best qualified person to show the way towards Israel’s future, in which he tries to go beyond the political survival methodologies of the past and seeks to exemplify an inclusive and embracing political approach to governing Israeli society and relating to its neighbors.
We hope only good things will come out of the coming weeks of deliberations so that Israel may begin to build a better future based on principles of inclusion, humility and magnanimity. If it can do so, it may well set an example for other long-term global conflicts to follow, including on the Korean peninsula which also originates from 1948.
There are also intangible benefits to all Israeli Arabs from the sight of Arab MKs taking up major ministerial posts. One can make the analogy to the presidency of Barack Hussein Obama that raised the esteem of American Blacks. It will encourage more Israeli Arabs to have ambition to public service. It will encourage more joint business enterprises between Jews and Arabs. When the entire Israeli society sees Arab legislators and ministers dedicated to the nation’s welfare, it will break down their fears and stereotypes of Arabs as a disaffected minority that would turn on Israel at the first opportunity.
Even the Israeli-Palestinian relationship can improve. Certainly, a government that includes the Joint List will put the kibosh on any talk of annexation of the West Bank. Annexation may not figure into the plans of a government under Gantz, but it remains an ever-present danger should there be another Netanyahu government in whatever coalition he may form--except a coalition with the Joint List. Moreover, as a partner in such a government, the Joint List could trade benefits to the settlers with benefits to the Palestinians in the occupied territories such as better roads and loosening of restrictions on economic development.
Beyond that, there is more talk among Palestinians and Israelis alike about a single-state future. What that state will look like—whether it continues to oppress Palestinians or forms an inclusive democratic structure—will be greatly affected by the stance of Israeli Arabs toward the government of Israel. Active involvement of Israeli Arabs in governing Israel will set a precedent for cooperative relations between Israelis and Palestinians in the future, whether in one state or in two states. This may seem like a long shot, but one thing’s for sure: continued hostility and suspicion between the two sides will only prolong and even worsen the oppressive status quo.
In addition to political courage, I believe another element that the Joint List will require is forgiveness. As I Jew, I ask on behalf of Jews everywhere, for forgiveness for the misdeeds that Jews have done to Arabs through history. That’s not to say that there have not also been numerous misdeeds that Arabs have perpetrated on Jews, but from the Jewish side it has been a history of expulsions, from the Nakba in 1948 all the way back to the expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael by our matriarch Sarah. I believe that many Jewish Israelis, especially on the Left, want to relate with their Arab brothers and sisters as equal citizens of Israel. Maybe it is not yet a majority, but nevertheless there is a willingness, even a yearning in Israel, to move beyond the sorrows generated by the politics of fear that is often rooted in a misplaced sense of superiority.
I know that Arabs still feel the hurt from those expulsions. What I call forgiveness is a willingness to put aside the past in favor of a shared future. It doesn’t mean to forget the past or sweep it under the rug, any more than Jews will ever forget the Holocaust. Still remembering, we can nevertheless move on from that pain and grasp a shared future. I want to see an Israel where Arabs and Jews share the future together. It begins with an Israeli government that includes the Joint List.