While we are on the subject of political campaigns, there is one in Israel that is coming to a conclusion. Voters there will choose a new government in a little over two weeks from now.
We have our own wish list for what we would like to see that new government accomplish.
First and foremost, we hope the new government will commit itself actively to protecting the rights of all Jews to pray at the Western Wall according to their own traditions, to sit wherever they choose on public transportation, and to dress as their own consciences allow.
With that, we also hope that the new government will find ways to get all of Israel’s able-bodied young men and women to engage in national service after high school, whether in the military or in some other way. Israel lives in too precarious a region for any one group to refuse to do its share.
We also hope the new government will actively commit itself to protecting the rights and granting asylum to people fleeing religious, ethnic, and political persecution, whether from Africa or elsewhere. We are troubled by some of the rhetoric coming from political parties on the right in Israel regarding the African refugees. Israel is a small country, to be sure. It cannot absorb tens of thousands of people fleeing persecution, but it also should not turn its back on refugees the way the world time and again turned its back on us. We surely should not be bragging about doing so in political campaigns.
Finally, of course, we hope the new government will pursue peace actively, despite the fact that at the moment, at least, there does not seem to be a legitimate partner for peace on the other side. As John F. Kennedy said in his inaugural address 52 years ago this month, “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.”
How we can make peace with an implacable enemy is beside the point. What is the point is that we already are at peace with our friends. We only make peace with our enemies. “Who,” says the Psalmist, “is the person desirous of lifeâ€¦? One who wishes for peace and pursues it.”