Israeli Politics – In the Land of Israel

If one thing can be made clear from the book In the Land of Israel, it is that the people of Israel are divided on issues of politics, with opinions, support and political affiliations all over the board, depending on the person, the area, past experiences and hope for the future.  What was surprising to me, given the circumstances was the fact that the Palestinians interviewed who are living in Israel are divided as well.  Opinions, loyalties and beliefs are all over the place in this work, and seeing the differences in opinion from a single region of the world was refreshing and incredibly enlightening when it comes to the Arab Israeli conflict over the same piece of land.  In Jerusalem’s Geulah quarter, for example, Zionism is dead, and viewed as a disaster by the Orthodox.[1]  Contrary to the dawning of a new age with the establishment of statehood, in this neighborhood, Statehood has simply reestablished a return to the past, and not in a positive way.[2]  This view supports a compromise with the Palestinian Arabs and a return to peace apart from the continual state of conflict that independence and statehood brought with it.[3]

In the settlement of Bet Shemesh, by contrast, young men view the Arab outrage over their displacement with disgust, as well as the Labor party.[4]  The Arabs are given jobs, education and development throughout the settlements and the only reason they are unhappy with their conditions is because someone told them that they should expect better.[5]  Without that external influence, they would be content and obedient to the laws of the State of Israel.[6]  In addition to that, they argue that there are dozens of Arab countries in the Middle East and world-wide – what could be so wrong about the Jews wanting a homeland of their own in the land of Israel, and why would the Arabs want to take that away from the minority Jewish people?[7]  These sentiments are also articulated by Menachem in Tekoa – going still further that if as many Arabs are eliminated as possible, the rest of them might recognize how well they had it and be content with what they’ve been given.[8]  For Menachem in Tekoa, stopping the fighting in the 6 days war was an error in judgement, and Israel should have pressed on in order to achieve total victory and to settle the conflict once and for all.[9]

The voices reflected in this book may not be reflective of all of Israeli society as the author himself notes in the beginning of the work, but there is a clear cross-section of both Jewish and Arabic residents.  It’s clear that the country is divided over the peace process, potential compromises and their views on their Arab neighbors.  The fact that neither side can agree on a direction moving forward makes negotiations with their neighbors and the potential for a fair and lasting peace far more difficult.

[1] Amos Oz, In the Land of Israel (Orlando: Harcourt Inc, 1983), 13.

[2] Oz, In the Land of Israel, 19.

[3] Oz, In the Land of Israel, 19.

[4] Oz, In the Land of Israel, 41.

[5] Oz, In the Land of Israel, 42.

[6] Oz, In the Land of Israel, 42.

[7] Oz, In the Land of Israel, 43.

[8] Oz, In the Land of Israel, 59.

[9] Oz, In the Land of Israel, 60.

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Voting and Civic Responsibility

Voting and Civic Responsibility

Like the early humanist thinkers in the early Renaissance period who felt a sense of duty by performing civil service, ever since I became of legal age, I’ve felt a responsibility and a duty to do my part and get out in the world and vote – even in Primary elections.  Tomorrow is Primary day for my state of Florida, and my spouse and I both plan on celebrating the day by doing our jobs and voting.  While our personal politics are unimportant, I’ve always held a strong belief that if you are unwilling to participate in politics by voting and making your voice heard, you have forfeited your right to complain about the political climate and events happening by political leadership throughout the nation.  Voting is an essential human right, and when you look at the history of voting policies throughout the last few hundred years, a great deal has changed.

Although African American men were given the right to vote in 1869, a plethora of legal loopholes and poll taxes made voting for African Americans in the South practically impossible.  The voting rights act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson went into practice only in 1965.  Voter ID laws and acts nation-wide continue to attempt to hinder the voting rights of minorities, restricting those who can vote and requiring certain types of identification and more.

While incomparable to the voting restrictions placed on African Americans throughout the country, women’s voting rights also were contested nation-wide, with more and more restrictions placed on women voters until the suffragette movement took hold and came to a head in 1919.

The point is that women, African Americans and minorities throughout the United States have fought hard for the right to cast their vote and make their voices heard in the electoral process.  To this day soldiers fight for the rights we’ve come to enjoy throughout the nation, and they continually place their lives on the line in the name of our freedoms – freedoms that are so often taken for granted.  Regardless of what political party you’re affiliated with or what’s going on in your life, take a lesson from the early humanist thinkers of the Renaissance era.  Take a few moments out of your day to vote in your state’s primary.  Take part in the General Election.  Make your voice heard, and keep in mind that if you willingly refuse to take part in the electoral process in this country, you have essentially chosen to state that your voice is unimportant, and that complaining about the process, our elected representatives and ultimately our nation’s leader is effectively out of your hands.  Young people have the opportunity to make a difference, regardless of who they cast their ballots for.  It’s our job to take the opportunity granted to us through blood, sweat and tears and make sure our voices are heard.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Bain News Service, Publisher.

 Source: https://www.aclu.org/files/VRATimeline.html?redirect=timeline-history-voting-rights-act  Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women’s_suffrage#United_States