We have seen top Israeli mobsters engaging in illegal dealings while wearing a kippa, and kippa-wearing criminals were involved in some of the most serious corruption affairs in Israeli politics. Yet now, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu wishes to exploit the kippa to advance his political views.
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“When will we wake up and realize that we need a prime minister with a kippa?” wrote Eliyahu recently. Yet what does this kippa represent for him? Loyalty to the rule of law? Positive traits? Concern for the weak segments of society? Not at all! Rabbi Eliyahu’s words attribute clear meaning to the kippa: Unequivocal rightist views in all matters pertaining to the State of Israel’s territory. All the rest is, at best, a bonus.
Rabbi Eliyahu’s basic assumption is correct and important: We must elect an honest and moral prime minister who places the values of Judaism as his main priority. Such PM certainly cannot be someone involved in corruption affairs, but also not someone who frequently calls for mass insubordination while abandoning the rule of law, the State, and the people. Whether such person is wearing a kippa or not is meaningless in this context.
As a religious man myself, I would certainly be glad to see kippa-wearing leaders. However, I do not disillusion myself into thinking that the kippa or social status represent the depth and complexity of a person. I met good secular and religious Israelis with a deep and meaningful value system, but I also met both secular and religious Israelis who are mean and filled with hatred and racism. Religion and a kippa, regardless of its size or color, do not guarantee anything.
The scaremongering should end. The religious public is not interested in taking over State institutions and in forcefully making Israel “more Jewish,” as Eliyahu described it. Religious and secular Zionism have embarked on a fascinating partnership journey, which led to the state’s establishment, and has not yet finished its role. The journey we started together in order to establish a home for the Jewish people, on all its branches, in the Land of Israel has not yet ended. We have not yet completed the shared vision of creating a Jewish democratic state that would be a light unto the nations from amidst the Mideastern chaos.
Indeed, we need to crown a prime minister with faith – the faith that we can complete this mission and march together, both secular and religious Israelis, in bringing Jews from all over the world and of all types to the country. This prime minister can be either religious or secular, as long as he respects all parts of the nation and maintains the country’s Jewish and democratic character, on all this entails. We still aspire, in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, to build a country premised on the foundations of freedom, justice, and peace, in light of the vision of the prophets. This is a shared dream and we shall realize it together.