It is time for a new class of politicians
"To make better politicians, disgust at politics must be overcome, the takeover by apparatchik-career politicians must be prevented, and, most importantly, strenuous and stubborn efforts are essential."
From the national perspective, it will be a serious blunder if the tent-dwelling protesters are satisfied with an adequate response to their particular demands. The main significance of cottage cheese prices, the scarcity of cheap housing and the difficulties of medical interns - for all their individual worth - is their constituting clear indicators of the overall failure of the Israeli political sphere.
An indictment of the political echelon includes at least five items:
1. The weakening of Statehood
The state has given in too often to interest and pressure groups; agreed quietly, and also surreptitiously, to illegal building and settlements; lacked a determined stance against calls not to follow legal orders and judgments; and accepted educational segregation between different social segments.
2. Not establishing an excellent education system
It was to be expected that the state of the Jewish people would have, by global standards, an outstanding education system. But, with some exceptions, the Israeli education system is, at best, mediocre.
3. Throwing social justice values into the trash
Israeli politicians were infected by the social conscience flaws of the U.S. and abandoned the possibility of a worthy social policy going hand-in-hand with economic success (as demonstrated by some European countries ). Responding positively to the demands of the tent protesters - however justified - will again ignore the needs of the weak sectors that lack the ability to demonstrate effectively.
4. Contributing to the deterioration of Israel's global standing
The dangerous decline in Israel's external political situation is only partly as a result of enemies; it's largely due to deeds and omissions by Israeli politicians. These result from a mixture of fanaticism, a misreading of evolving realities and an inability to reach decisions in the face of disagreements, together with preferring the "apparatchik" convenience of procrastination - despite its high future cost.
5. Domination of "apparatchik-career" politics
There is a fitting Hebrew term, "Askan," which has no equivalent in English - it's linguistically related to "business," with career and party considerations being paramount, even if many politicians fool themselves that they are sacrificing their welfare on the altar of values and the public good. I propose the term "apparatchik-career" politics as an English equivalent.
This pattern is expressed in political agreements based on dividing spoils, shallow discourse, proliferation of populist legislation, innumerable spins, a refusal to accept responsibility for glaring failures, the tolerance for ethical transgressions by "colleagues" (if they are Jewish ), and improper business-politics relationships, leading to corruption. There is also general ignorance, combined with a lack of interest - often by Knesset members - to explore opportunities to study subjects of paramount importance for serious politicians.
There are some exceptionally high quality politicians, and a number of areas of policy are well handled - principally macroeconomics and some security issues. But the overall shape of politics is clear: Most of the members of the Knesset, and the Cabinet, are largely apparatchik-career politicians. This constitutes the greatest danger to the future of Israel, more than its enemies.
It is important to understand that this is the case despite Israel's good - in many respects - current situation, which is largely the result of the constantly improving dynamics of Israeli society, often despite the politicians. But we cannot rely on this, because critical, future-shaping choices that cannot be delayed - including overcoming some deep flaws within Israeli society - necessarily depend on politicians.
Therefore, improving the quality of Israeli politicians is imperative. It follows that, in order to make an essential contribution to the future of Israel - above and beyond meeting specific needs - some of the high-quality protesters should choose a pathway to the long-term benefit of Israel: Namely, transforming Israeli politics by setting up a new social movement.
Utopian expectations must be shunned. Nevertheless, it is possible to make better politicians. To do so, disgust at politics must be overcome; the takeover by apparatchik-career politicians must be prevented; infection by obsolete left-right dogmatism needs to be avoided; and, most importantly, strenuous and stubborn efforts are essential.
Furthermore, the new movement/political party must constitute, in effect, a devoted service elite. It should be distinguished by high personal ethics. Religious-secular pluralism is essential, together with agreement on principles enabling effective action. The average age should be young, with a high percentage of women. At the core of the movement-party should be the creative development of "outside the box" policies, together with constant contact with the broader public, and political communication which rings true to the multitudes while putting forth demands that are more than just promising benefits.
If the present protests advance a new type of politics, even in part, they will attain historic significance. Otherwise, it will be just another narrow, temporary episode without substantive impact for the better on the overall future of Israel.
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