The Rejuvenated State


Responsibility, Vision, and Will

For many years and by many audiences, I was frequently asked to define Zionism. My response was often surprising—one word, “responsibility.” Zionism means, simply, Jews taking responsibility for themselves, for their infrastructure, their health and education, and defense. Israel, I always added, is the only nation where Jews can assume that responsibility as a free and sovereign people.

Israel in recent years has been abnegating that responsibility. Instead of addressing critical issues such as the decline of our hospitals, the deterioration of our schools, or the breakdown of trust in our institutions, we have preferred to focus on the latest coalition crisis or the controversial remarks of this or that minister. Doing so, though, represents a betrayal of all those who went before us, who sacrificed so much to establish and enrich the state and protect it from harm.

We must once again accept responsibility. The dimension and number of challenges facing Israel before its one hundredth birthday can surely seem insurmountable, and the changes needed to overcome them immense. It would be unrealistic to think that any one politician or even government could alter the state’s relationship with the Ultra-Orthodox and Arab segments of the population, for example, develop the periphery, and rebuild our foreign relations. Such transformations may take years and will certainly be strenuously opposed. But none of these hurdles can be overcome unless we first face up to them and decide determinately to act.

Taking responsibility is the first step. The second is defining our vision. How do we want to solve Israel’s problems and what should the state look like twenty-five years from now? Vision is what inspired a Viennese journalist to transform the scribblings in his notebook into an international movement respected by international leaders and recognized by much of the world. Vision led Israeli prime ministers to irrigate the Negev with Galilee water and to forge peace with former enemies. Vision is now needed if we are to truly fulfill our responsibilities and begin to implement solutions.

And the third, and most crucial, component is will. Sheer will enabled Israel to absorb nearly a million Soviet Jews, to airlift the Ethiopian Jewish community, and to establish on sand dunes the world’s first Hebrew-speaking city. Will emboldened Ben-Gurion, at a time when foreign leaders and even his own commanders assured him that doing so would be suicide, to declare Israel’s independence. Israel stands as an unparalleled testament to the indomitable power of will.

Assuming responsibility, clarifying a vision, and applying our will—these are the keys to making Israel a more judicious, cohesive, sovereign, and secure state, a more Jewish and democratic state, and to restoring mamlachtiyut. Israel must not only be preserved but fundamentally, resolutely, fixed. Israel must be rejuvenated. Our history gives us innumerable reasons for optimism. The future amply holds out hope. By acting now, decisively and together, Israel in 2048 will be fully prepared to face—and embrace—its second hundred years.



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