So who would God like to win election?

ELECTION fever has already arrived, both in Israel and the UK. Was Benjamin Netanyahu's recent sacking of two government ministers and the dissolution of Parliament a case of Nero fiddling while Rome burned?

Let's look at the wider picture outside the constant in-fighting and horse-trading of the Knesset.

Israel is the most democratic country in the Middle East, surrounded on all sides by warring Arab neighbours with only one thing in common - a hatred of the Jewish state.

Islamic extremism is a pressing worldwide phenomenon, but the spiritual epicentre of that turmoil is focused on Jerusalem, claimed as holy by both Judaism and Islam.

The summer's Gaza conflict may have, thankfully, ended but the hatred of Israel by its surrounding enemies has not gone away and, God forbid, could erupt again at any opportunity.

For decades, Israeli and world politicians have grappled in vain to solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem. Most of the world, including the Israeli left, blames successive Israeli governments for not going far enough in self-sacrifice to placate their violent enemies.

The Israeli right feels that successive governments have been too soft and not come down hard enough on the Palestinians, both militarily and even to the point of suggesting the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians living in Israel and its territories.

But any objective student of the history of the State of the Israel - and, unfortunately, there are very future students of that history who are objective and do not have their own agenda - must realise that neither peace moves nor wars have worked.

As Abba Eban said back in 1973: "The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." His statement is still true to this day. However much Israel bends over backwards to make sacrifices for peace, it will never be enough. Like their idolised suicide bombers, Israel's enemies are bent on martyrdom, not peace and co-existence.

But they are deadly dangerous and should not be provoked. Right-wing attempts to destroy them militarily or take punitive action against them will only play into their martyrdom agenda, exacerbate the conflict and turn the world more against Israel.

So what is Israel to do if both peace and war do not work?

Powerlessness is the most soul-destroying of emotions. It was probably that feeling of powerlessness which prompted Netanyahu to tire of fighting the dissenting voices within his government and to call an election which he hopes will provide a more governable Knesset.

In truth, the power vacuum which has currently come into Israel's political landscape is a power vacuum we all share.

The paradox of human existence is that powerlessness is the hardest emotion to cope with.

In order to function effectively we all need a certain measure of empowerment. But however necessary to our emotional wellbeing that sense of empowerment may be, at the end of the day we are all powerless in the face of the Almighty. Unforeseen circumstances can often dramatically disrupt the best-laid plans.

In Yiddish they say: "Mensch tracht und Gott lacht." Man thinks and God laughs or Man proposes and God disposes.

At the end of the day, there is only one power upon whom Israel can depend and that's not the super-power of the USA, but the Almighty. So who do you think the One Above wants to win next March's election?

Will He be voting for one of the religious parties like Shas or United Torah Judaism? In which case, you would have to ask whether the One Above was Sephardi or Ashkenazi. A stupid question because the Almighty is everywhere, not circumscribed by geographical criteria.

Does He really want religious parties to increase their majorities so they can extort more money from the electorate to defend their own Torah institutions at the expense of causing even more anti-religious resentment from the rest of the population?

Or does He want a Knesset formed from a true coalition in which small parties do not look after their own self-interest but sacrifice that for the greater good of the shalom bayit of the House of Israel?

In last week's "Punch and Judy" Question Time session with comedian Russell Brand and maverick politician Nigel Farage, the first questioner asked whether "the petty adversarial nature of politics was causing its own decline".

If this is true in this country to the extent that people are turning to possibly dangerous outsiders like Brand and Farage, how much more so in the Knesset whose level of horse-trading and bickering completely outshines that of the British Parliament?

If Israel genuinely wants peace with its neighbours, it first has to make peace with itself, especially in the political arena.


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