Every Sunday at 10 am, the ministers walk into the government conference room and hold its weekly session; seemingly yet another gathering by a board or directors. In fact, every such meeting determines the way of life of Israeli citizens and the country’s future.
I, whose job it is to set the agenda of government sessions, approach this task with absolute solemnity every day, knowing that every subject and every clause may shape another aspect in the fabric of life in our country.
Every Sunday, while I look at the faces of the people sitting around the government table, I do not see happy people. I see people who are busy throughout the day; most of them bear the great burden of responsibility and are well aware of the importance of their mission.
All of them do not get any appreciation for their actions. What we developed here is a culture that hides the good and intensifies the bad. A minister can lead far-reaching reform that nobody knows about, yet should he say something that deviates from what is expected of him – even by mistake or through lack of attention – he will immediately be slammed by the critics.
The cabinet secretary’s room is located near the government’s conference room. This is the room where ministers, during breaks, share some of their feelings. In this room I hear time and again their great frustration over the lack of trust, low expectations citizens have for their government, the great difficulty in implementing decisions, and the growing gap between elected representatives and citizens.
On many occasions, I had the same thought run through my head: I wish I could allow every citizen to be a guest for a day and observe the government at work, so they can see that the gap isn’t that great, and that every minister or official are citizens just like everyone else – with the same agenda, the same complaints, and the same hopes and expectations. Yet this is impossible, of course, and all of us pay for the loss of trust. It filters down to the realms of implementation, vision, and values.
Countdown has already started
A State cannot be managed like this over time. Every society needs anchors that secure its existence – a stable government that possesses genuine execution ability, faith, vision, and values. All of the above are available. The difficulty is found in pushing them up above water and focusing on them.
Reality is much better than what is visible to us. The time has come to tell ourselves that Israel has had enough of being a place of bad news, and that it is time to turn it into a place of good news.
The time has come to create a renewed culture premised on hope rather than despair. A society whose conduct is to-the-point and not cynical; a system that is replete with good and absent of evil; a system that all of us, both citizens and ministers, deserve to have, rather than the system we do have.
Soon, a new government shall be established. At this point already, even before the prime minister was chosen or the government’s makeup was determined, the common perception is that this government will be unstable, stay in office for a short term, and lack the ability to execute anything. Even before it took office, we have started its countdown already.
I suggest that the day of electing a new government will be a day of change for all of us – a day of building trust, a day of giving a chance, and a day of faith and vision. At the end of the day we are dealing with the right to live a good, safe, and hopeful life here.
Oved Yehezkel is the cabinet secretary of the outgoing government