BRING DOWN THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT

by Rabbi Steven Pruzansky

Excerpts from "Bring Down This Government," published in The Jewish Press,

"Imagine, just for a moment, that a leftist prime minister of Israel (say, Ehud Barak) had presided over a government that oversaw the greatest decline in personal security in Israel's history, with the terrorist murders of more than 1,000 Israelis... Imagine further that this leftist prime minister (say, Chaim Ramon) had presided over a government that oversaw the worst recession in Israel's history that stifled the economy, produced records rates of unemployment, and drastically reduce support payments for the indigent... Imagine then that this leftist prime minister (say, Shimon Peres) concocts a scheme to unilaterally and forcibly transfer Jews from their homes, without even a pretense that this would somehow improve the security of Israelis or bring Israel closer to peace... We would be demanding that such a fraud resign.

"Now imagine that this leftist prime minister (say, Yossi Beilin) had presided over a government that allowed (or encouraged) the closure of the voice of religious, nationalist Jews in Israel, Arutz-7, for example, permitting no broadcast outlet for the natural base of opposition to his political and military machinations... Imagine even more that this leftist prime minister (say, Shulamit Aloni) severely slashed funding to Yeshivot and religious institutions... And what would happen if such a leftist prime minister fired cabinet ministers at will in order to stifle discussion, intimidate dissidents, and create an artificial majority for his views; then held a referendum of his party members on his plans, lost the referendum, and announced he was ignoring their voices; and then sought support in his party's Central Committee for his corrupt policies, lost that vote too, and announced that he could not be bound by the decisions of the majority? We woul d say that such a leftist prime minister had such dictatorial, anti-democratic tendencies that it would be dangerous to have him serve even a moment longer...

"Such a state of affairs is precisely what has unfolded in the Israel over which the rightist Prime Minister Ariel Sharon presides... Is there one thing that Sharon has done as prime minister that, if anyone else had attempted to do the same, the streets of Israel would not have erupted with protests? Why have we surrendered to this man, who has grievously - perhaps irrevocably - harmed the right-wing political movement in Israel, and exposed its sheer emptiness of its values and the vacuities of its policies?...

"Perhaps the unspoken fear is, Who will lead? Who today in Israel can articulate a vision of strength, hope, confidence, love of Torah and love of land? ... The prevailing sentiment is that a strong leader with true Jewish values could never get elected in Israel. But that same sentiment once prevailed with another strong leader of definite opinions named Ariel Sharon, who was also deemed unelectable, until a few months before his election...

"There is no justification of 'fighting from within' against a leader who makes no pretense of his contempt for democratic norms. We are already sliding down the slippery slope - first Gaza, then Samaria, then Judea, then Jerusalem, because 'if not, the world will apply so much pressure.' ... It is time to end this pathetic retreat from sanity before the Army of Israel turns against the People of Israel, with devastating consequences for Israel's future. It is time to elect a government of proud Jews whose voice is not suffocated by politics or money or fear. It is time to democratically bring down the government of Ariel Sharon. Let history be the judge."

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Rabbi Steven Pruzansky is the spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun of Teaneck, New Jersey.