Constitution? Not in This Generation

Another attempt was made this week to resuscitate Israel's constitution, whose death was announced 60 years ago, according to halakha. Even after this attempt, the constitution remains a pile of bones and will not come to life. The statements made in the Knesset this week were heartening. The leaders of the three large parties - Kadima, Labor and the Likud - praised the work of the non-despairing Knesset Constitution Committee chair Michael Eitan, who once again presented a constitution draft.

On its death, the 16th Knesset bequeathed life to the 17th Knesset, authorizing it to complete the job. But the promise of a constitution is just another dry bones prophecy.

How do we know there is no chance the constitution will ever be enacted? From the broad consensus, of course. If the large parties agree on anything during election time, it's a sure sign that that something is nothing. They are split on every hair these days, and suddenly they agree on an entire constitution?

Pompous platitudes floated in the plenum like balloons at a party, where the bitter divorced parents feigned politeness for the children's sake. Here and there the speakers spoke of the obstacles, but refrained from mentioning the landmine that would blow everything sky high.

Even if an agreement is ever reached on all but one issue, it means nothing. The main bone of contention is the source of authority, all the rest is marginal. And there will never be agreement on that - the messiah will arrive sooner.

Never has the controversy on the main issue been so profound and threatening. The denial of democracy and its institutions has spread in recent years and is undermining the foundations of Israeli sovereignty. Does anyone really believe the old men of the mountains or the hill youth and their Knesset representatives would agree on a document establishing democracy's supremacy? Would the local fundamentalists and fascists sign on a document of surrender, revoking the divine, biblical and rabbinical edicts and subjecting them to the constitution?

Jewish sovereignty does not have a good track record. Twice in history it rose and fell, brought down by the malignant heresies of its spiritual leaders and delusionists. Now the politicians are trying to build a third temple, and the heretical lunatics are endangering that too.

The chapter of the constitution itself in our history has not been brilliant. The national leader rose one morning, went to bring a constitution and forgot to return. Adults - not only children, not only dogs - suffer from fear of abandonment. And so, they searched at the foot of the mountain for another leader because that "man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we know not what is become of him." Pressured and ashamed, Aaron built them the golden calf. Finally Moses came down from the mountain, saw the children of Israel eating and drinking, dancing and having the time of their life; there is a god! Moses hurled the tablets of stone on which the Ten Commandments were engraved to the ground furiously, smashing them to smithereens.

Only on the second round, after 40 more days and nights, did he return with new tablets. But we don't even keep the commandments on the second pair of tablets, at the most we keep an average of four or five. We may have come out of Egypt, but we are not out of the wilderness yet. We are still there, among the shards of the first constitution, among the dead letters of the second constitution. This desert generation will not be the one to resuscitate it and mend the fragments.