The underlying socio-civic foundations upon which Israel’s military strength is based have been steadily deteriorating over the past three decades. During the early years of the State, there was no doubt as to the source of the clear and present danger confronting us. But in the subsequent decades, a number of socio-civic trends have gradually begun to develop that are slowly but surely disintegrating the basic fabric of society, the economy and the government.
· In a country where publicly elected officials are not guided by the laws of the land, it is not surprising that strong-armed tactics, corruption and deception are becoming accepted and excusable norms for attaining one’s objectives in society as a whole.
· In a country where violence in the family, against women and on the roads has long since escalated from the verbal to the physical, who can be surprised that the number of victims of such violence surpasses the number of terror victims?
· In a country with slow economic growth and extraordinarily high levels of poverty and inequality, it is time that we internalize that fact that our socio-economic trajectories are not etched in stone, even though they may seem to be. Our destiny is not in the hands of heaven – it is in ours.
· In a country that has permitted such widespread decline in the education of core subjects since the sixties, and the creation of the largest educational gaps in the Western world, the future that it is creating for its children should be obvious to all.
· In a country weighed down by a huge tax burden – whose national priorities are reflected in patients lying in hospital corridors, pensioners living in poverty and a meager health basket – there are nonetheless sufficient resources for investing vast amounts in territories that will never become part of a Jewish-democratic state, and for distributing large amounts of public funds to special interest groups and cronies with connections.
· In such a country, the problem is not a lack of funds, but a serious loss of direction.
This is not how the Zionist dream was supposed to have come to fruition. It should be clear that it is not enough that our shores serve as a sanctuary for the Jewish people – since after the refuge is provided for the parents, what will keep their children here? Public internalization of this bottom line has major ramifications for the national priorities that we choose today, which determine the kind of country that we’ll have tomorrow.
The Jewish people’s national home must aspire to be an “or la’goyim”, or global beacon, as a strong, vibrant and moral egalitarian society, with the highest living standards in the world – and the lowest poverty rates. It is all up to us. This is a truly special people, whose very survival to the present day indicates its internal resilience and ability to overcome obstacles and regenerate itself.
It is time to wake up, and to return to our senses. Nothing less than the future of the third temple hangs in the balance – a future that is not set in some distant horizon, but one that stands upon the threshold of our children’s generation. The fear is not from a strengthening of our enemies, but from a weakening of our children – through our own doing. The socio-economic and civic fabric that we produce for them today will determine their ability to contend militarily with future enemies, and economically with future competitors.
The time has come for setting new national priorities: an Israeli initiative to protect its citizens and determine its borders; a comprehensive policy to improve the employment situation; recognition of education as a fundamental infrastructure and national objective; systemically addressing social rifts at their source; an unrelenting war with “zero tolerance” on violence, corruption and other crimes; reforming the system of government to enable governance, law enforcement, implementation of long-range policies and the reviving of public trust in the political system.
The time has come for true leaders with the rare mixture of vision, imagination, integrity, an ability to see the big picture and a sense of mission that will enable implementation of the necessary changes.
Our collective spirit of togetherness as a people and our sense of joint purpose keeps most of us here – and these provide the well of support and strength from which a true leader can draw upon for the sectoral concessions needed to bring about a general recovery of Israel’s society and economy. We are brothers in this small vessel called Israel, but our destiny will be the fateful waterfall if we don't come to our senses immediately and begin rowing in the same direction to a safe shore – which is still attainable.