Photo courtesy of Knesset website
Leaders like Ben-Gurion 'thought about us before they thought about themselves'
Photo courtesy of Knesset website
Eitan Haber

Where is the leader we are yearning for?

Op-ed: The great Israeli leaders of the past had major shortcomings too, but the state was their top priority.

The most incorrect thing one could do right now is write something like "there is nothing new under the sun" or "life goes on," etc. Even on the 66th year since its establishment, the State of Israel is still under an existential threat. Israeli leaders who are in the habit of denying this difficult fact and praise the volumes of strawberry exports to Paraguay this year are being untrue to themselves – and to us. It appears that they are only calming themselves down.



We are strong, we are smart, we know the Torah and we are great believers in God in Heaven who will "save us from all evil," and yet we are still under the shadow of an existential threat, even if it is postponed by 10 years. The years go by fast, as the poet said, and in order to remove the threat we must equip ourselves with three things: Leadership, new ideas and public support. And what have we got?


Leadership: Yearning for the leaders of the past drives us crazy sometimes. We miss David Ben-Gurion, Menachem Begin, perhaps also Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon, and others as well – from Haim-Moshe Shapira of the National Religious Party (yes, there was such a party once) to Meir Ya'ari and Yaakov Hazan of Mapam (there was such a party too). I am mentioning their names with a sigh, oh my, dreaming about those great days – the battle against the British, the state's establishment, wars, peace. Oh my.


Those great leaders had major shortcomings too, but the state was their top priority. They thought about us before they thought about themselves, and it's not that they didn't think about themselves. The most accurate statement in this context was made by Ben-Gurion: "I don't know what the people want, I know what is desirable for the people."


Each of those leaders (Ben-Gurion, Moshe Sharett, Golda Meir, Rabin, Begin, Yitzhak Shamir) arrived at the position with decades-long experience in different roles. They were "cooked" for leadership roles on all types of fire in the political kitchen. Today's leaders have a six-line resume, an ego which reaches the sky, and the worst thing: The state is them, and they think first of all about themselves.


New ideas: The old ideologies have collapsed and the dreams have evaporated in the smoke of wars. The proposal for "two states for two people" is dying, and the idea of a bi-national state is causing real panic. The American proposals have been sent to the archives; we are refusing to discuss the Arab proposals (the Saudi one, for example) because they are Arabs. The same applies to the Arab side in regards to the Israeli proposals, which give the Palestinians the option of breathing twice a day for 50 minutes.


And so all the peace proposals, of all kind and from every side, are on their way to the cemetery. And now everyone is sitting and waiting for the messiah, but he, as the song says, is not calling.


Public support: The main interest of every Israeli leader today. There has always been consideration for the public opinion, gaining support, fear of Election Day, but in recent years it has become the main issue and everything else is pushed aside.


Every leader takes into consideration that most Israelis were born into the current political and security situation and are unfamiliar with a different situation. Only Israelis aged 60-65 and up know that it used to be different.


The desire to get elected is the starting point, the middle and the end. It's everything. It's possible that everything would be different if there would be a new leader in Israel with the ability to make tough decisions, who would say after making such a decision: "Now, only now, after the decision, I will work to acquire the public opinion in my favor and sweep it in my direction."


Not yet: There isn't, it seems, such leader on the public stage today. It's possible that he hasn't been born yet. We will have to wait a long time, and until then we will hang our hopes on God in Heaven. The problem is that he has been off-key too recently. Even those who want to trust him should pray for the IDF's soldiers. What would God, the Holy One blessed be He, do without them?


פרסום ראשון: 05.16.14, 13:49
 new comment
This will delete your current comment