June 10, 2023
We, all of us, are facing a decision – a decision on the fate of Israel. Israel, which we love so much, will either be a liberal democracy or become a messianic dictatorship; Israel will either be a liberal, egalitarian and progressive democracy, and the national home of all the Jewish people, or it will simply not be; it will simply sink into an abyss of corruption, ignorance, vindictiveness, and bigotry, on the way to self-destruction, like quite a few countries in the Middle East. It is hard to build a functioning nation, and very easy to destroy it. We will never allow a populist group that specializes in fostering imagined anxieties and stoking hatred between sisters and brothers – a corrupt, vengeful and ignorant group, to destroy the Zionist enterprise.
The real national camp, the quintessential patriotic camp, is us - we, the citizens who contribute, serve, fight, and make bloody sacrifices over the years. In recent months, we have begun to tell a new Israeli story and have regained ownership of the flag, but that will not be enough. Zionism, which we applaud, requires the purchase of ownership of Judaism. A Judaism of contemporary culture, updated heritage and historical depth. Judaism with a distinct identity - an identity of Tikkun Olam (world repair), justice, equality, enlightenment and progress. A Judaism that is optimistic, brave, confident, believes in man, inclusive and tolerant, but is not naive. We must not leave Judaism in the hands of charlatans, the sanctimonious, the ultra-Orthodox and zealots. Liberal Judaism is our Judaism, and this is the new Zionism.
A nation that is cohesive and capable of dealing with external threats cannot be built on sanctification of tribalism, and false attempts to settle past accounts through hatred and vindictiveness. Israel needs a new civil contract - the contract of equality: equality between Jews in Israel and abroad; equality between the center and the periphery; equality of duties, rights and opportunities; and equality for non-Jews - our Bedouin, Arab, Druze and Circassian brothers. Israel must strengthen its democratic institutions, which are currently under severe threat, and Israel must buy back ownership of its children's education so that all Israeli citizens will enjoy democratic and liberal education.
Last paragraph. Israel must separate from the Palestinians and draw clear borders, and Israel, tomorrow morning, must initiate a civil separation with a responsibility for security, as the only way to neutralize the extremists and violence, and return the national vision and its realization to the hands of the moderate majority.
All of this is possible and essential, requiring struggle, constructing abilities, and reaching rapid elections. It's all in our hands. We will continue with determination, creativity, perseverance and courage, and for the glory of the State of Israel.
Yair Golan is a (Ret.) Major General and former Member of Knesset Courtesy of Yair Golan, this speech was published by USA for Israeli Democracy