Jun. 24, 2016
“Holding Our Heads High”
The Shurat HaDin (Israel Law Center) Conference “Towards a new law of war,” was held this week. The very last speaker at the end of the conference on Tuesday was Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Chair, Habayit Heyehudi). His talk was enormously well received because he said a number of things that badly need to be said.
Minister Bennett made three significant points:
1) We must change the battlefield with regard to fighting BDS and delegitimization. We have to stop obsessing about how to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, because it is insolvable. Instead we have to move to focusing on our ability to be a Light Unto the Nations. This is a strategic shift, as the world needs us. We have something to teach with regard to technology, medicine, agriculture, providing security while maintaining quality of life, and more.
How about the art of innovation? We should have a summit on “teaching innovation.” We are a “start-up nation” because of this capacity for innovation, and the world badly needs to learn how to promote this. We have an ancient, traditional method of studying texts called “chevruta” – two people studying together with back and forth questions and discussion. Others need to know about this. Our youth groups are led by young people, who learn how to be responsible. In other countries youth groups are led by adults. Maybe they need to hear about what we do.
2) We must talk about our rights and not just security. This is our home. The security argument will last just so long before people will say, if it’s not yours, give it up. But it is ours. The world will respect us if we respect ourselves.
What Bennett said was so important, I will say it again: The world will respect us if we respect ourselves.
At the same time, we should talk about a solution for the Arabs. By this he means something less than a state, which he is opposed to. His point is that we should demonstrate that we have an innovative and workable plan for the Arabs, even as we say that the land is ours.
3) Israel must start fighting delegitimization seriously. We need an agency dedicated to this, with a serious budget. We need to devote energy to this, just as we devote energy to security matters.