According to the sages of Israel, the Second Temple was destroyed physically by the Romans but spiritually by “senseless hatred” on the part of the various Jewish sects for each other. Hence the day of remembrance, Tisha B’av, just past.
As the unnecessary and very expensive second general election of the year grinds on in grotesque imitation of the first, Tisha B’av is particularly apt this year. The participants engage in byzantine political maneuvering and lashon hara against each other, while resolutely ignoring the issues of greatest concern to the people they aspire to govern: educational reform, health-care deficiencies, gridlocked transportation systems, affordable housing, and pervasive corruption.
Just recently the economic and financial situation of Israel was astonishingly good, given the huge share of the national wealth that has to be spent on security and defense. There is now a budget deficit, despite the natural-gas bonanza, and it is growing. The health-care system is deteriorating, as is the quality of education. Public transportation development is neglected or is entangled in scandal, as with the high-speed train line between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Excess luxury housing construction continues while young couples desperately look for something they can afford. Meantime countless billions are wasted in pervasive corruption and in keeping religious special interests satisfied and on board politically.
Meantime an unnecessary and badly timed nation-state law outrages ethnic minorities, some of which have been mainstays of what no one denies is the Jewish state.
As a result of all this senseless hatred, due to economic, social, or religious divisions in Israeli society, continues to grow. Highly significant progress in the international sphere, with greatly improved relations with Asian, African, Eastern European, Latin American and, most important, Arab countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, as well as relations with the United States at an all-time high, are endangered because of domestic strife.
For the first time in its history, Israel has only one significant external state enemy – Iran, and even this has its advantages in encouraging improved relations with the Arab countries threatened by Iran. An excellent new commander has undertaken the task of bringing the Israel Defense Forces, already the most powerful armed force in the Middle East, fully into the technological and organizational changes made necessary by the ongoing transformation of warfare.
All this is placed in danger because of the most serious threat to Israeli security – no, not Iran, Hamas or Hezbollah, but the Israeli politician. When was the last time you heard one of that breed refer to necessary reforms of a dysfunctional political system? Or for that matter anything other than how bad the others are?
And sadly, they are right.