Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely, who made her way into the limelight of politics after being on some loud populist TV talk show, could be regarded as an Israeli success story: at the age of 31 she was elected to the Knesset and by the time she turned 34 she added "deputy minister" to her name. Yet her appetite is not yet satisfied. It seems Mrs. Hotovely is striving to become the next Arik Sharon, otherwise it's hard to explain her visit to the Temple Mount where her inflammatory rhetoric called for a status quo change of the holy Muslim site. If riots in Jerusalem flare up to a third Intifada – Hotovely no doubt would be proud to share in the fame and glory.
You're probably wondering what Hotovely has to do with the matter at hand – business sustainability. The answer is that in my opinion, Hotovely and her fellow political pyromaniacs, and the "Feiglins" who are preoccupied with casting burning torches onto the volatile keg of gun powder that is Jerusalem, should be an integral part of our discussion on sustainability. We need to address this duality of pyromania and depression, or rather – their pyromania which causes our depression.
But before we explore sustainability, let's talk about apathy.
A mere 60 kilometers from Tel Aviv, zealous Muslim fundamentalists and their fanatically crazed Jewish counterparts are threatening to rekindle another Intifada or even an all-out religious war in the Middle East. But we all opt for the right to remain silent as if somehow all this doesn’t concern us one bit.
The "State of Tel Aviv" – literally and figuratively – is well adapted at looking the other way and carrying on as usual. It's hardly surprising - if it took us just a couple of months to forget the terror of running to bomb shelters amid blood curdling sirens, disregarding a handful of nutcases in Jerusalem is peanuts.
Riots make sensational headlines and show well on TV. But are there any Israeli companies that actually address the ramifications of these periodic forest fires at their board meetings? Precious few, if any. Even the leading names of Israel's economy, which have accepted and adopted sustainability, which understand that beyond shareholder profits, other parties at interest such as employees, customers and society at large – must benefit from their business – even they regard their own sustainability and that of Israel's society as two separate issues.
But this forced demarcation cannot survive the flames consuming our region. The business sector can no longer deny the simple, clear-cut truth that these two are one and the same and such a differentiation is short-lived between their own growth potential and the geopolitics that is increasingly pervading our lives. Sustainability has spread beyond the realm of a tree-hugging New Age. Today, business sustainability it is a sophisticated social philosophy which examines the role that the business sector should play in society. I suggest augmenting the scope of the issue and securing a place for it high on our national agenda.
How can one remain indifferent when foolish, cynical and uncontrolled (sometime all of the above) politicians, drag us time and again into these flare-ups? All of those who stand to lose – be they businesspersons or CEOs – must speak up now, decisively and with no fear of politics or politicians. They must step up and assume their rightful position in the national dialogue and blaze the trail to becoming part of this country's leadership. This is an essential part of striving for sustainability, and is for their benefit – in the broadest and deepest sense.
However, many who have dipped into Israel's business stew know just how vindictive politicians here can get – they can harass a CEO through the Financials or Economic affairs Committees, they can slam a company in the media, and what not. Interestingly, nitpicking and petty vengeance is something our politicians are actually good at. One would be wise to carry a heavy stick. However, avoiding riling politicians is a short-term goal whereas sustainability bears considerable long term benefits. Those who don't warn the ship's captain of a fire for fear of his wrath will end up sinking along with ship and crew.
And obscure metaphors aside, I will say this: our problem is not Hotovely, Feiglin or even MK and certified pyromaniac Uri Ariel. Our problem is our prime minister. Indeed, Benjamin Netanyahu is the blind captain. In an endless and dizzying list of failures, one item remains unsurpassed – his debacle in the international diplomatic arena.
Mr. Netanyahu is tearing down a long-standing and crucial relationship with the American administration with his own two hands and is gradually condemning Israel to political isolation by thwarting any chance of a lasting agreement with the Palestinians and moderate Islamic countries in the neighborhood. Netanyahu's actions are dooming Israel and every day that goes by with him at the captain's wheel increases the risk to Israel and its sustainability – since where there is no existence there can be no sustainability.