By Larry Gordon

By Larry Gordon

Once, there may have been achievement in the political world of what can rightfully be called unity. The natural conclusion of a political process was compromise, which was always a key element that would result in unity.

What is unity, and why does it seem that we have floated so far away from that being a reasonable objective of those we elect for that purpose?

I think that political leaders or elected officials will only get back to striving to achieve unity, which is probably truly the wish of the people, when the people finally get their collective act in order and vote them out of office.

Israel is still navigating its way out of an election nightmare. There are enough right-leaning people who were elected to the Knesset, but too many of them have an extraordinary amount of hostility toward one another to the point that they do not talk to, or, for that matter, cannot bring themselves to look at, one another.

Here in the U.S., Joe Biden, who presented himself as a thoughtful and reasonable candidate and now president, spoke at great lengths about his determination to unite the country during his years in the White House. Over the last three months since he assumed office, he appears to have divided the country more than any other president in modern times.

But Biden hasn’t just further divided the nation and exacerbated the disunion in the country; instead, he and the people around him are in the process of seeking to redefine unity.

The alleged unifier, President Biden, has achieved absolutely nothing through bipartisan legislation. Instead, the radical agenda he has urgently introduced was either through the skimpy Democrat Party majority or through executive order.

Biden and his spokespeople have further skewed what is going on by claiming, dishonestly, that they have bipartisanship support for their new policies. When asked to explain, the administration said that polls have indicated that there is minimal Republican support for some Biden policies, which to them is defined as being bipartisan. That means Democratic support and some Republican support. No matter that Mr. Biden has zero Republican legislative support for anything he has done. The narrative gets dished out by big tech and the left-wing media which, when combined, adds up in a pitiful fashion to believability.

Back in Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu has a little more than a week to patch together a ruling coalition to lead the country until the next election. On Tuesday he announced that he is giving up on that effort, though that might also just be a tactic. The recent election, just prior to Pesach, was Israel’s fourth in two years. This is just a symptom of the way in which the people are split almost exactly down the middle. If Bibi’s time to form a government expires, Israel’s president will give another party leader the opportunity to do so.

These days coalition talks don’t just go down to the last day before the deadline; you can expect them—if they are successful—to go down to the last minute of the last hour of that final day. Israelis are adept at negotiation, and the personalities at play in the process today know that the people do not want a fifth election, which, if necessary, will probably end with the same costly result.

What this might come down to is that, across the board, our leaders are not doing a very good job of leading. The elements of the current difficulties in Israel seem to be a combination of political personalities like Yair Lapid, Gideon Sa’ar, and Naftali Bennett feeling that their time has come to lead, and their determination that the Netanyahu reign come to an end.

An additional dimension of the political problems in Israel—identical to the problem we have here in the U.S.—is the expectation that if you are in politics, you will mislead and deceive, and that is acceptable. A political commentator said this week that it seems to be even more than that—that the people want to be misled.

All this squabbling is taking place even before we address the role of religion in Israel’s political process. Lapid, if he can form a government, will have to be joined by Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman and will need the participation of at least some of the right-leaning religious parties like Shas, Yamina, United Torah Judaism, and the New Right. But both Lapid and Lieberman have said hateful and horrible things about the largely chareidi communities that some of these parties represent.

Lapid has said that the power of the religious in the country is the ruination of Israel. How can a man who harbors a sentiment like that actually be a leader of a Jewish state? Lieberman has been a part of coalitions previously but broke up those governments over issues relating to chareidim serving in the army or doing national service.

The array of parties that can join together to form a strong right-wing government that can appropriately and effectively deal with the new Biden administration and the enhanced Iran nuclear threat is a puzzling combination, not dissimilar to a Rubik’s cube.

Shas and Betzalel Smotrich of the Religious Zionist Party have stated that there is no way they will join a government that includes either Lapid or Lieberman. Sa’ar, who would like to join with Bennett, will not join him if he makes a deal to serve in a coalition with Netanyahu.

Despite Israel being the democracy that it is, in the past it was unthinkable that any party would enter into a political deal with an Arab-led party that is essentially dedicated to the dismantling of the Jewish state of Israel as we know it. Now there are serious discussions going on that would allow Mansour Abbas’s Ra’am Party to support a Likud-led majority from the sidelines in the Knesset.

Last week it looked like neither Netanyahu, with 28 Likud seats, nor Lapid, with 19 Yesh Atid seats, would have the ability to form a majority coalition. When it looked like that was the case, Lapid called for a national unity government which in the past was the way out when Israel found itself in a national quagmire.

Usually that crisis was attached to the prospect of actual war or some other type of external threat. The crisis today is a combination of both an internal and external threat to Israel.

A national unity government also usually signals that parties that battle one another set aside some of those differences, even temporarily, for the betterment of the country. The only problem is that today and in this political environment no one trusts such a call as being sincere.

In case you are wondering, one of the greatest challenges associated with creation is the ability for us to achieve achdus—loosely translated as unity. In this week’s Torah reading (Kedoshim 19:18), we are told directly by Hashem, “Love your fellow as you love yourself, I am G-d.” That might be the stepping stone in the right course of action, but for now we seem to have some momentum in the opposite direction.

Netanyahu was given the mandate to form the next government by President Rivlin. He has six weeks and can request an additional two-week extension. So we still have a way to go. Bibi is indicating that he is ready to give up, but don’t look away; anything can still happen.

Unity, by its very essence, cannot exist in Israel or the U.S. as long as our leaders are against it. It just may be that we are united only by the numerous things that divide us.

Read more of Larry Gordon’s articles at Follow 5 Towns Jewish Times on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates and live videos. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome at and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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