We Have the Best Government That Money Can Buy — Mark Twain
The other night I did something for the first time since I made aliyah almost 30 years ago. I voluntarily tore myself away from a replay of Monday Night Football to attend a political meeting of English-speaking activists for the Yesh Atid Party. So, why now, when there are no foreseeable elections in sight? And more importantly, why Yesh Atid? The short answer is that I am fed up — I am fed up with being told that politicians will always be politicians; I am fed up with being told that there is nothing that us simple taxpayers can do because, well, because there is nothing we can do; and what I am most fed up with is the prospect that a piece of legislation as crucial and unifying as the Equality in National Service Bill is now up for grabs to the highest bidder. I am not a happy camper.
All five of my sons have served in combat units. They all study and they all show up for their miluim duties. If the violence of the past few months has reinforced anything in our collective consciousness it’s that we are all in this mess together. Our enemies do not distinguish between those who wear kippot and those who sport body piercings. The burden of national service should reflect our oneness. It is simply not fair by any moral standard to expect those who sacrifice continually to wait indefinitely, at best, for the rest of their fellow compatriots to help share the load.
So, why Yesh Atid and why Yair Lapid? Full disclosure — prior to Lapid’s decision to enter politics, I had never read his newspaper column nor had I watched with any regularity his television programme. I was not a Yair Lapid groupie. But I certainly sat up and took notice of the man as soon as he threw his hat into the political arena. What I quickly noticed was an articulate, erudite pundit who spoke with real conviction about the issues that most mattered to me. I have witnessed my fair share of elections these past three decades to be sufficiently jaded when the subject turns to politicians and their promises. And that is what I found most refreshing about Yair Lapid – the fact that he is not a “professional” politician. Too often in Israel our politicians consider politics to be a life career — they forget that it is a privilege to serve and not some sort of right from birth. Like old generals, they never die they just fade away — only in their case, they just keep resurfacing election after election.
Too often our leaders cling desperately to power, sacrificing their principles for the sake of factional peace. It’s not healthy for a country when its leaders believe that they and they alone can deliver their nation’s salvation. The divine right of kings took a turn for the worse with the executions of Charles I and Louis XVI. I don’t believe that it is a coincidence that two of the leading candidates for the GOP nomination in America are both non-politicians. Republican voters seem to have lost their appetite for leaders who come from within the party establishment. I am not qualified to determine if that is a healthy sign for the future of politics, but what I can speculate is that voters are tired of politicians behaving like caricatures. They crave genuine leadership as opposed to well-crafted sound bites.
We, on the other hand, struggle with over-leadership. At last count our prime minister was also our acting minister of Foreign Affairs, Communications, Regional Cooperation, and Economy. Even by Israeli standards this must qualify as some sort of indoor record. Can Israel really afford to be without a foreign minister at this critical juncture in time? Fortunately, Yair Lapid has stepped up to the plate. In case you haven’t noticed, Lapid, by default, is our acting ambassador at large, our foreign minister and our minister of hasbara all rolled into one. Don’t take my word for it: check out the Yesh Atid English Facebook page and see for yourself the ceaseless amount of interviews, speeches, and blogs he has contributed on behalf of our beleaguered nation — without, may I add, a critical word about our current leadership when he is abroad.
Politics really isn’t rocket science. If we don’t get involved then we get what we deserve — and, frankly, we deserve better.