ISRAEL @ 100 - A LOOK AHEAD
by Brandon Marlon
At 64, the State of Israel Has Proven Its Vitality and Resilience. Still,
Areas of Improvement Remain for Present and Future Generations of
Israelis to Enhance Their State
The State of Israel has accomplished unprecedented growth and
productivity in its first six decades, and continues to inspire and
aid nations the world over with its remarkable ingenuity and
technologies. Yet as a youthful country, Israel has much room for
improvement, and various aspects - some more crucial than others -
which require correction. The following summary enumerates a dozen of
the most important issues facing the reborn nation:
- Electoral Reform - Israel's current election system of
party-list proportional representation is based on the failed Weimar
model of coalition governments, and has severely hampered the national
leadership from acting decisively on behalf of its citizenry.
Switching from a PR system to a relative majority or plurality voting
system - election of candidates by district using a
first-past-the-post/winner takes all mechanism - would increase MK
accountability and government stability. It would also do away with
the perpetual recycling of statesmen and retired generals ubiquitous
among the political elite, empower constituents, augment the
meritorious nature of each successful candidate, introduce regional
pragmatism to the elections, reduce governmental paralysis, and
dispense with the exaggerated influence, manipulation, and blackmail
tactics of special interest parties.
- Constitution - While the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel expressly calls for a foundational document to underpin the statecraft and governance of the new nation, Israel has for 64 years relied upon Basic Laws and legislative statutes to govern the country, and preferred an evolving, piecemeal constitution to a single national document. In June 2006, Professor Abraham Diskin of The Institute for Zionist Strategies drafted, with the assistance of numerous colleagues, a proposed Constitution which, while imperfect, serves as a useful basis for the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee to debate, amend, and adopt such a seminal document.
- Parliamentary Immunity - With the presence in the Knesset of hostile MKs such as Zoabi, who participated in the infamous Mavi Marmara flotilla loaded with false humanitarians, or other Arab MKs who openly or not-so-secretly meet with leaders of enemy states and terrorist groups, the State of Israel's legislature is plagued with rogue elements who routinely undermine national security with virtual impunity. Statutes and/or Knesset by-laws should be enacted to censure and penalize such blatant acts of treason by those responsible for the well-being of the country.
- Judea and Samaria - The status quo of military
occupation over the "West Bank" is undesirable and unsustainable in
the long-term. Israel should annex the heartland of the homeland and
offer Arab inhabitants the choice of permanent residency - with
guaranteed human and civil rights including municipal and regional
voting rights, or emigration with compensation. Jordan, which is
several times the size of Israel and 3/4 of what was Palestine, has
been the de facto Palestinian Arab state since 1921, and the Gaza
Strip has been a 2nd Palestinian Arab state since 2005. There is no
rational justification for a 3rd Palestinian Arab state (in addition
to the other 20-some Arab states throughout the Middle East and North
Africa), nor is it reasonable for the sole Jewish state to relinquish
the most significant parts of its geographical identity, history, and
heritage. Conceding Judea and Samaria - originally the tribal
territories of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and the western half of
Menashe - is akin to amputating one's identity, fragmenting the very
bedrock of one's nature, and it is fundamentally unreasonable for the
Jewish People to agree to this inadvisable possibility or for the
international community to demand it.
- Warfare - The State of Israel has had to do battle on a regular basis since its founding, and one of the reasons for this is that it fights its wars without the requisite decisiveness and finality required to impose peace. The two Arab intifadas and the recent wars against Hezbollah and Hamas were enabled and protracted because Israel allowed enemies on its borders and exercised excessive restraint in the face of relentless rocket and bombing attacks. No nation can exist with deadly quasi-armies perched on its frontiers, hellbent on its destruction, and regularly striking at whim. This arrangement perpetuates conflict and ensures the renewal of warfare every few years. Instead, in its next engagement with its sworn foes, Israel should refrain from adhering to artificial schedules imposed from without, and conduct its defense with clear goals until the terrorist groups are not merely set back, not merely decimated, but defeated to a man.
- Chief Rabbinate - This office serves little practical or political purpose within the state and is in fact all too often the source of petty controversy and scandal. The Chief Rabbinate should be terminated in favor of re-establishing the Great Sanhedrin of 71-73 sages, a body of Jewish rabbis and scholars - lead by the traditional Nasi, Av Bet Din, and Chacham - serving the Jewish People in Israel and the Diaspora and which devotes itself to practical religious and spiritual issues rather than serving as nominal figureheads of the religious within the distinct political realm.
- Jewish Heritage Sites - While Israel now has an excellent system of about 70 National Parks and Nature Reserves, there are a number of key ancient sites in the country that have little or no official identification and are not yet visitor-friendly. Such historical sites include: Modi'in, home of the Hasmoneans; the Maccabean battlegrounds of Beth Zur and Beth Zechariah; Yodefat and Gush Chalav, major locales in the First Jewish Revolt under the direction of Josephus Flavius and John of Gischala; and Betar, the last citadel of the ill-fated Jewish Messiah, Shimon Bar Kokhba.
- Penal Reform - Prisoners - including bloodstained murderers, gangsters, and terrorists - currently receive financial benefits while in durance, in addition to the enormous expenses borne by the state on their behalves resulting from their incarceration. Instead, convicts should be made to pay for their jailing costs, which would alleviate the public burden and strengthen deterrence among would-be criminals and assailants.
- Road Safety - Israel suffers from a high rate of motor vehicle deaths and injuries, which must be reversed with higher safety standards.The state should: raise the licensing age to 18; enact graduated licensing with mandatory in-class and in-car defensive driving training; enforce speed limits rigorously; re-test drivers every 5 years for road worthiness; raise safety standards on automakers; broaden roads in remote or difficult terrain and improve their lighting and signage; and impose stiffer penalties for driving while using hand-held devices or without seat belts.
- Bedouin Relations - Despite recently improved relations
with the Bedouin community in the Negev, largely a result of President
Shimon Peres' friendly overtures, Israel should define its
relationship with the nomadic Arab community after broad consultations
with the pertinent regional councils and the Bedouin sheikhs. Such an
agreement or understanding would eliminate the unseemly house
demolitions that occasionally still plague relations, and would
determine the nature of sovereignty, partnerships, and mechanisms for
- English Usage - Too many Israelis do not take English sufficiently seriously, and this lackadaisical attitude permeates the state as evidenced in official government publications and even highway signs which frequently misspell place-names or use poor grammar, syntax, etc. Some cities like Tzfat have multiple spellings which can needlessly confuse visitors. Most tourists - not just Anglophones - use English as an intermediary language, and Israelis would do well to bolster their English skills in order to foster greater tourism throughout the country.
- Customer Service - Israel is notoriously lacking in professional customer service, which is not yet adequately part of the culture. Government offices, banks, and phone companies are the most egregious offenders taxing the patience and sanity not only of immigrants from service-oriented countries but the native-born as well. Standard civil service and corporate programs in customer service and sensitivity training should be implemented and tested in every ministry and company across the country. While Israel has had bigger problems to deal with than poor service delivery, positive customer service is a marker of maturation and evinces a level of sophistication natural to civilized nations.
Hopefully the coming years will see these areas benefiting from focused attention and effective action, and going forward Israel's leadership will concentrate on national, not narrow, interests. A strong and stable State of Israel will be better positioned to manage multiple internal divisions while withstanding the ubiquitous external threats. As the Third Jewish Commonwealth progresses towards its 100th anniversary in 2048, may its vibrant and innovative people continue to develop as a Jewish and democratic nation as envisioned by its founders and desired by its citizens.
Brandon Marlon is a playwright, screenwriter and poet from Ottawa,
Canada. His script The Bleeding Season won the 2007 Canadian Jewish
Playwriting Competition. His poetry has been published in Canada, the
U.S., and Israel in various publications. He released two poetry
volumes, Inspirations of Israel (Xlibris, May 2008), followed by
Judean Dreams (Bayeux Arts, September 2009).
Visit his websites at
brandonmarlon.wordpress.com and www.brandonmarlon.com.
was submitted May 23, 2012.
_________________________End of Story