In a Nutshell: Manhigut Yehudit Position Paper
The goal of Manhigut Yehudit is the transformation of the State of Israel into an authentically Jewish state. The return of the Jewish people to its land has created a thriving, successful and powerful state. But the State of Israel is a like a Jewish body without a Jewish head. We have yet to have a leader with deep faith in G-d, deep faith in the Jewish people, and deep faith in our unique destiny in Israel as expressed by our prophets and sages. Israel needs a Prime Minister with authentic Jewish leadership qualities; – it needs a Jewish head on this reinvigorated Jewish body. Manhigut Yehudit’s goal is to nurture that awareness in the Israeli public.
Our platform has three primary themes: Identity, Liberty, and Meaning.
Since our return to our homeland, the State of Israel has wavered between two options:
- The Jewish option is to perpetuate the historic Am Yisrael, to connect to our roots, to continue to develop our national culture and original values and to strive to realize our historic goals.
- The other option is to transform the historic Am Yisrael into a pluralistic “Israeli state of all its citizens” disengaged from its heritage: a new nation composed of a mix of nationalities, cultures, and religions, each with equal relevance to our common Israeli identity.
The vast majority of the Nation of Israel – the Jewish majority – chooses the Jewish option time and again. However, the centers of power within the state are largely in the hands of the minority who favor the 2nd option. Manhigut Yehudit is providing vision and leadership to the majority who want the State of Israel to reflect its Jewish character.
Our first message as a people, forged in the Exodus from Egypt, is the message of individual freedom under One G-d. Ever since then, the Jews have been the number one enemy of all attempts to enslave the human body and spirit. The State of Israel should reflect this historic and cultural stance of the Jewish people. Manhigut Yehudit opposes all types of coercion: religious, anti-religious, economic, cultural, educational, etc. We strive to empower and support individual freedom within Israel, battle the entrenched interests that limit our freedom, and make Israel a beacon of human liberty to the entire world.
We have a grand purpose and destiny to fulfill in our return to our homeland. Our mission here is the historic and divinely established mission of the Jewish people, namely “perfecting the world in the Kingdom of the Almighty.” We’ve built a country from scratch and become an economic and military heavyweight, a start-up nation that brings all sorts of technological innovations to the world. But the real purpose of our return to our Land is to be a moral and spiritual light to the world and to continue the chain of moral and spiritual leadership of our great prophets and sages. This is the message that we need to inculcate in ourselves and declare to the world as a foundation of our national identity.
The Key Issues:
The following are a list of issues on which Manhigut Yehudit has been active, all of which relate to one or more these three themes:
- Nullify the Oslo Accords:In embracing the godfathers of Islamic terror, hijacking, and suicide bombing as “peace partners,” we gave a tailwind to the forces that are now threatening all of Western Civilization. These accords have cost Israelis thousands of lives and over a trillion shekels (over $275 Billion) and have brought us no closer to peace. Our “peace partners” have flagrantly violated the provisions of the accords from day one. It is time to admit that the Oslo Accords have failed and to chart a different course towards Israel’s peace and prosperity: One state for one nation in one Land.
- Annex Judea and Samaria:Of the places named in the Bible, 93% are in Judea and Samaria, which are – literally – the heartland of the Jewish people. Judea and Samaria were restored to Jewish hands by G-d in an open miracle. We need to accept and thank G-d for this great gift and fully incorporate these lands into our state.
- Restore Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount. Restoring Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount will:
- Guarantee our basic civil right to pray on our holy site that is currently being denied to us by the Israeli government per its arrangement with the government of Jordan. Arabs scream and curse and spit on Jews who come up to Temple Mount while the police stand by. But if a Jew dares to openly pray to G-d, the police immediately haul him or her off the Mount. There is a painful message in this almost daily scene, a message of Jewish shame, self-deprecation, and lowliness in what should be a place of dignity and honor for G-d and the Jewish people.
- Strengthen Israel’s legitimacy in the eyes of the world. The key question is “To whom does the Temple Mount belong?” If it belongs to us, then why is the Jordanian Wakf in charge there? If it doesn’t belong to us, then in what sense does Jerusalem or Tel-Aviv or any place in Israel belong to us? Is Tel-Aviv ours more than the Temple Mount is ours? The Temple Mount is the most Jewish piece of real estate on the planet. How can Israel defend its legitimacy to the world when we’re unwilling to defend the legitimacy of our authority in this place that is most ours?
- Reduce the violence and begin implementing G-d’s peace plan. The Temple Mount is the headquarters for the Jewish mission of Tikun Olam, to bring peace and harmony to the world. Our lack of sovereignty on the Temple Mount distances us from our mission of peace and fuels the violence in the entire region. G-d has a “Peace Plan” for the world, and unequivocal Jewish sovereignty on the Temple Mount is the prerequisite. Jewish sovereignty on the Temple Mount is the first step towards a world without war.
- Nullify the Iranian Nuclear Threat: Iran has declared its intention to wipe Israel off the map and is actively developing the means to do so. We must take this threat seriously and not depend on any other nation to deal with it for us. Israel must develop and implement a plan to nullify this threat. To survive in the Middle East, it is imperative for Israel to demonstrate that those who threaten us will not succeed and will pay a very heavy price. Our current hesitation strengthens our enemies, erodes our deterrence, and makes it more complicated and costly to nullify the threat.
- Solve the Housing Crisis in Israel:Private home ownership has become increasingly out of reach for most Israelis and the problem is only getting worse. These three steps will solve the problem at its roots.
- Return the land to the people. 93% of Israel’s land reserves within the Green Line are in the hands of a monopoly, the Israel Lands Authority, which dramatically increases the price of land for construction. Israel must introduce a process for distributing parcels of land to its citizens and allowing market forces to determine the price.
- Open up Judea and Samaria to development. Judea and Samaria hold the bulk of the land available for development. The de-facto building freeze in these areas severely exacerbates the current housing crisis.
- Tackle the bureaucratic monster that stands in the way of acquiring building permits: Trying to get a building permit in Israel is like running an obstacle course in which new obstacles are erected as you go. It can take years of effort and aggravation to get a simple permit.
- Lower the Cost of Living in Israel: In addition to making housing affordable through the steps above, these steps will dramatically lower the cost of living for the average Israeli:
- Foster a free market. We need to open the Israeli market, especially the retail food and basic necessities markets, to competitive imports.
- Create true competition between the banks. The procedure for the opening of new banks must be eased. Eliminate the robbing of Israelis’ pensions by the insurance companies.
- Liberate the state from the clutches of the vested interests. Eliminate the swamps of corruption in the Defense Ministry, the Health ministry, the large workers’ unions, and the other power hubs that siphon off huge sums from the public coffer.
- Eliminate the “peace industry.” The Oslo Accords have already taken an average of 600,000 NIS (about $160,000) from every family in Israel – and the register is still ringing. Oslo was the worst financial mistake in Israel’s history and is still costing us dearly.
- Reform the bloated pension system which, for example, pays 100,000 NIS monthly (about $28,000/month) to former Attorneys General, roughly equal to a year’s salary for the average Israeli worker.
- Reform the Tax and Justice Systems to Support the Institution of the Family: The family is the foundation of our society. Yet, the current taxation system penalizes couples for staying married, and the justice and social welfare systems encourage divorce at the first signs of serious marital trouble. We need to reform the tax code and bolster the community-based support structures needed to help families stay together.
- Reform Israel’s Justice System:Israel’s judges should be chosen by the public’s elected representatives in the Knesset, rather than by unelected fellow members of the Justice system. We currently have a justice system whose power is unchecked and whose values are out of synch with the majority of the nation.
- Institute a Professional Volunteer Army:The primary mission of the army is to defend our State, not to be a social melting pot. The army is already over-staffed and over-burdened with people who don’t want to be there. We should follow the lead of practically all other Western countries and the advice of the military experts who feel that Israel’s army could better perform its mission as an all-volunteer force. In the process, we would eliminate a huge source of social tension over who has to serve in the army.
- Electoral Reform – Institute District-Based Representation:According to a 2011 poll, 51% of the Israeli electorate public believes that their participation in elections has little or no influence on the events and decisions made in Israel, and voter turnout has declined. The solution is to reform the party-based election system and institute some form of district-based representation. In addition, we believe that Jews living outside of Israel who have demonstrated significant commitment and connection to the state (e.g. serving in the army) should be given some level of voting rights. Israel belongs to the entire Jewish people.
- Institute Basic Jewish Education for All Jewish Students in Israel: All Jews in Israel should have a basic understanding of their own history, culture, and religion.
- Eliminate Religious Legislation: The decisions on religious legislation should be made by individual communities, not by the state. If a community desires, it should be able to institute privately-provided public transportation on Shabbat. The same goes for commerce on Shabbat. We support the movement for a five-day work week that would make Sunday a day for sports, shopping, family recreation and entertainment, as in other Western countries. Rather than legislating Shabbat observance, we should facilitate observance by giving people a different day on which to do these activities. Facilitation not coercion is the model that will work best to bring us closer to our Jewishness. It honors our individual liberty and expresses faith in our Jewish essence.
- Make Israel’s Foreign Policy Reflect Jewish Values:The Jewish nation has an obligation to be a beacon of morality and to protest gross human rights violations around the world, even when it is not politically convenient or economically expedient.
- Establish Our Relationship with the United States Based on Shared Values:For too long, Israel has related to the United States as a patron on whom it depends for its existence. Instead, this relationship should be based primarily on our shared values. The Jewish people is the source of the values of individual liberty under One G-d that inspired the founding of the United States. More than Israel needs the United States, the United States needs Israel to be a beacon of these values to the world; to help the US strengthen its attachment to its own foundational values, to support the role of the US as the leader of the Free World, and to support its ongoing battle with the forces that threaten human freedom worldwide.
- Encourage Aliyah:Make Israel the Jewish home we have dreamed of over the millennia. Actively encourage Jews from throughout the world to make Israel their home, create jobs and housing as described above and simplify the absorption process.
- Insist on the Release of Jonathan Pollard: Pollard was betrayed by Israel and has already been in prison far longer than those convicted of similar crimes. It is time to bring him home.