Sunday, August 16, 2020

MK Tehila Friedman’s maiden speech in the Knesset touches a cord with admonition that a Jewish state ‘is not a given’

Israeli society is fractured and fragile, and threatened from within by those who would spread “malignant hate” between its many tribes and communities. So argues one of the most wildly viral videos to ever cross the collective consciousness of Hebrew-speaking Israelis, urging in response “to seal an alliance of moderates with all those who understand the challenge of living together.”
The video is short, a speech in the Knesset by a little-known lawmaker named Tehila Friedman, a backbencher in the Blue and White party who only entered parliament two months ago after Michael Biton, now a “minister in the defense ministry,” resigned his Knesset seat to clear the way.
Friedman has been an active lawmaker in that short time, challenging the Education Ministry on its preparations for a school year in the shadow of the pandemic, and railing at the impact of spending cuts brought on by the budget impasse in the Knesset on Israel’s underprivileged and youth at risk.
Her energetic efforts notwithstanding, none of it brought much attention from the national news media.
Then, on Tuesday, she got up to speak at the Knesset podium for the first time. It was what Knesset protocol labels a “maiden speech,” when freshly-minted MKs traditionally thank their parents and teachers and say something unobjectionable about their aspirations and beliefs.
The soft-spoken Friedman stood at the lectern for just 11 minutes, twice choked up with tears, and sent shivers through the collective national spine.
In just two days, the video of her speech was viewed at least 1.5 million times on Facebook — a sizable chunk of the world’s Hebrew-speaking population. Excerpts were carried in primetime by Israel’s major television news channels.
It was the rare political speech that broke down barriers. Though Friedman hails from centrist Blue and White and railed against the right in her speech, it was shared most enthusiastically by right-wing viewers, from Channel 12 political analyst Amit Segal, whose share was the one that went viral and passed the one-million-view mark, to pundit, comedian and onetime Yamina Knesset candidate Hanoch Daum (48,000 views).
Friedman’s own post of the video was viewed 76,000 times.

The speech was covered in detail by outlets large and small, including sectarian news media such as the religious-Zionist website Kipa and Haredi website Kikar Hashabat, which labeled the video “the MK’s speech that captivated the internet.”
“My opening speech may very well be my closing speech,” Friedman noted in her remarks, as the continuing budget crisis threatened to send the country to a fourth election in 19 months.
That’s why she had decided to shy away from speaking of “my aspirations and plans, whose relevance is questionable… in this chaotic gallop toward the abyss and the devastation of a fourth election.”
Begging her listeners’ forgiveness, she asked “to say something different.”
She began: “Over the past few weeks, since I arrived in this house, I haven’t stopped thinking about Rabbi Yohanan Ben Zakkai, one of the most important Jews in history, who at the last moment managed to rescue the Jewish people out of Jerusalem and its burning Temple and to Yavne and its unifying academy, and to invent it anew. I think of that leader, who lived in Jerusalem, in the midst of a terrible civil war, while outside the Romans stood and waited for the right moment to enter and destroy everything.”
The civil war “began because of an argument about how to deal with the Romans, but quickly turned into a war of identity, a war of all against all. What you think about the Romans became who you were… If I disagreed with you, I was against you, utterly, onto bloodshed. Hate washed over everything. In the name of hate, knives were drawn in the Holy Temple. In the name of hate, grain silos were set on fire that could have fed a city under siege. In the name of hate came hunger, and with hunger despair.”
The Jewish people was now once again at such a moment of decision, she warned, brought on by crises both internal and external, but first and foremost by hate itself.
“Now, in the midst of a crisis of enormous proportions, we find ourselves again in a frightening place. A deadly plague runs wild outside, and within, the same destructive desire to defeat one another. The same blindness and folly. The same malignant hate that makes us invest most of our energies on the internal fight. As in that time, the silos of trust are set on fire, the political institutions are made to crumble, endangering with mind-numbing irresponsibility the very existence of a shared home.”
The coronavirus crisis didn’t dampen the division, Friedman warned.
“In the middle of this coronavirus period, in a health crisis and an economic crisis and a social crisis unlike any we’ve known before, in a crisis of governance after a year and a half of deadlock without an approved budget and facing a painful deficit and a recession, there are again those who want us to take hold of each other’s vestments [to fight], to again tear at one another, to once again take every societal wound and scar and rub it until it bleeds again, to once again mock and ridicule the pain of others.”
She turned to her right-wing colleagues: “Three times in a year and a half, you tried to win, to bend, to force, to bring a surrender. We have to stop this. We have to stop trying to win.
“I’m a Jew, a religious person, religious-Zionist, nationalist, feminist, Jerusalemite. I was raised on a certain language and tradition… that has its truth and beauty and good. But I know that in other communities and worlds, there is truth and beauty and good, and I can learn from them. I have things to learn from Mizrahi traditionalism, from the Jews of the Soviet Union, from the Jews of Ethiopia, from the descendants of the pioneers and the labor settlement, from the individualist liberals, from the Haredim, from the Hardalim (Haredi-nationalists), I have things to learn from the Arabs, I have things to learn from the Druze, from the Bedouin, I have things to learn from the Jews of the Diaspora.”
She went on: “True, some of these groups and communities have principles, values and behaviors that I oppose with a passion, some of them actually threaten me — as a woman or a Jew or a Zionist or a religious person. But I remember and know that in every one of those groups, truly in every one — there are of course those who see themselves as the only correct path, whose justice [they expect] everyone will soon recognize, want to emulate it, and they shall lead and rule — but there are also those who understand that our differences are not temporary, that we are fated to live together and that this is the challenge of our lives.”
It is “with them,” she said, “that I wish to seal an alliance of moderates, with all those from all the communities who understand this challenge of living together, to restore the power from the fringes that drive us crazy, to create a shared center.”
There was nothing “accommodating” about that call, she said.
“I speak softly, I know, and you might make the mistake of thinking my message comes from a soft and accommodating center. But it’s the opposite. My center is a preexisting center, a fervent center, that is unwilling to compromise on its centrism, on its responsibility for all the residents of the country, on the room it has for all who truly want to live together, that puts limits on extremism and selfishness, a center able to sacrifice its own life on the altar of moderation, of democracy, of a Judaism that makes room, a center that defends bodily the rules of the game that enable us to have an argument without falling to pieces.”
That’s not how the Knesset usually functioned, she lamented.
“In the six weeks I’ve been in this house, I’ve heard endless mockery and hatred toward entire groups in Israeli society. I’ve heard the hope that ‘they’ disappear and ‘we’ can rule without limits.
“I want to tell you something. They won’t disappear. Call as many elections as you like. No one is going to disappear. If we keep trying to defeat each other, we will only defeat our children’s future. It is our mutual solidarity that will be routed, our inner resilience, our ability to continue to uphold this miracle called the state of Israel.”
Israel, she insisted repeatedly, was “a miracle.”
“We live within a miracle. I’m the daughter of a paratrooper who was among the liberators of Jerusalem. I live and raise my children in Jerusalem. My most basic day-to-day is the fulfillment of the greatest prophecies of the prophets of Israel. The elderly strolling the boardwalk, children playing — that which for my grandparents was a dream that was hard to even imagine is my simple lived reality.
“But I never took it for granted. [The poet] Yehuda Amichai taught us, ‘From afar, everything looks like a miracle, but from up close even a miracle doesn’t look like one.’ Even those who passed in the Red Sea at the parting of the waters [by Moses] saw only the sweaty back of the person walking in front of them.
“I live a miracle and I recognize the miracle. I thank God for the privilege of living in this miracle, and mainly I feel responsible for it, for my wellbeing, for its wellbeing, and for its wholeness, because my wellbeing is tied to its wholeness.”

“I came here to be part of a leadership committed to sustaining the miracle called the State of Israel, a leadership that does not seek to avenge wrongs, to take care of its own or to be right, but wants to rehabilitate and heal.She ended with a call for unity, for the preservation of the unity government and for an end to the factional infighting and delegitimization that have so consumed Israel’s political discourse in recent years.
“I believed in the need for a unity government. I still believe it’s the only way to lay the foundations for the next stage in the life of the nation, to save us from destruction, to invent ourselves anew.”
In her final moments at the podium, her voice choked up, she said, “These are the days of the Third Temple. And just like the two that preceded it, it’s fragile. It’s flammable. It’s not a given. Its stability is our responsibility. Its existence depends on us. This is our watch.”


moshiachnow said...

"war of identity" Israel can't have unity unless it identifies and legislates that it is a Jewish state and to do that, it and its people must recognize and legislate who a Jew is, namely someone born of a Jewish mother or who has undergone valid, halachic conversion.
You can't have a Jewish state if there are abominable "lifestyles" that are recognized.
You can't have a Jewish states if there are Arabs and other nationalities living there who do not recognize Israel's right to existence or the laws that the Torah has for geirim toshavim.
To have a Jewish state is to have the Torah. No one should be forced in the galut that still exists to keep it but fundamental principals such as who is a Jew, morality, Shabbos,kashrus , etc. should be maintained. The essence of a Jew is Torah and mitzvos and the essence of Israel is the Jewish people.

frum but normal said...

There is a website calling itself "Daas Torah" (should be called lo daas lo torah) hosted by a so called chareidi rabbi from the U.S now living in Israel,
this criminally insane filthy lefist swine vomits 24/7 anti Trump garbage spewed by CNN MSNBC NY TIMES and the rest of the America hating media.
This America and Israel hating sewer rat has a pathological obsession with our President. what a CHILLUL HASHEM this so called chareidi is causing.
check him out and see for yourself and let that sewer rat now what we think of him

frum but normal said...

beautiful,had tears in my eyes while listening to that heartfelt and eloquent speech, DIN thanks a million for sharing

Dusiznies said...

I burst out laughing when I read your comment:
"You can't have a Jewish state " etc etc..
Open your blind eyes.... We have a State ...that's reality...
And the reasons you give :

"You can't have a Jewish state if there are abominable "lifestyles" that are recognized.
You can't have a Jewish states if there are Arabs and other nationalities living there"

Those reasons are right out of the Evangelists handbook,,,
Are you a Christian?
Because we have a State ... I know ... I live there!

moshiachnow said...

Dusiznies: In 1970, the right of entry and settlement was extended to people with one Jewish grandparent and a person who is married to a Jew, whether or not he or she is considered Jewish under Orthodox interpretations of Halakha (from Wikipedia).
There are groups that are trying to get "conversions" which are not valid to be recognized.mIn Vayikra, it says if someone commits certain acts, " If you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.". Hashem is in charge of the world and we have a duty to listen to Him. 
There are non-Jews, some even in the Israeli government, who do not recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
No, I am concerned about Israel's strengthening of its Jewish identity which needs to be done for Israel to be a united country. Israel, Torah, and the Jewish people are all connected.
Yes, I am Jewish and have 2 sons in the Israeli army!

yidlmitnfidl said...

This was a most powerful, although soft voice.
Tehila put tears in my eyes.
What an erudite, eloquent Shiur Halacha!
This is Yiddishkeit at its best.

Thank you DIN.

Agudah Fresser Way or the Highway said...

Will the Philly-led Agudah Fressers ever learn?

Telz-Chicago rosh yeshiva & Moetzes member R' Chaim Dov Keller has dropped dead from the virus and the Pittsburgher Rebbe is in the ICU.

Meanwhile the Fressers are sticking their noses into the affairs of many more yeshivos than usual with their modern orthodox quack doctor Daniel Berman to make life miserable for mishpochos who won't send their kids back in 2 weeks to crowded classrooms. They plan to violate laws while causing politically-motivated harm (besides virus harm) to whoever doesn't submit like lemmelach to their death wishes.

Berman is grada not only the Fresser apologist for pro-virus & anti-vaxx, but he was first discovered by Satmar & made as their tool to cover up mohelim giving deadly viruses to infants b'oyfan which was already assered in the Heim by R' Chaim Brisker & R' Chaim Oizer. But some ignorant chassidishe make an incorrect diyuk in the Chasam Sofer to justify killing babies. And some corrupt doctors will say anything as long as they are compensated. Are the hospitals & universities giving Berman his fancy titles aware of his murderous moonlighting?

Dusiznies said...

Cut your crap ... We have a state ..and maybe "your god" will spit and vomit YOU out ..
But the God of the Jews will not ....
As the pasuk in Parshas Eikav is very clear:
לא בצדקתך וביושר לבבך אתה בא לרשת את ארצם כי ברשעת הגוים האלה ה' אלקך מורישם מפניך, ולמען הקים את הדבר אשר נשבע ה' לאבתיך לאברהם ליצחק וליעקב
וידעת כי א בצדקתך ה' אלקך נתן לך את הארץ הטובה
The Torah is very clear ... It's not because of our righteousness that we have the land but because the goiyim are worse ... and because Hashem promised it to our ancestors...
From the naveeim its very clear that when children will play in the streets of Yerushalyim that is a sign that Moshicah will come ...
When Ezra begged Jews to make Aliyah the Jews living in Israel were a lot worse...
the prophets only predicted two ....two ....two .. times Jews leaving the land of Israel.... that's it ...
Read the meforshim
You are a baal loshon hara ... and your ideas are very Christian if I were you I would look into your heritage and see if you are really Jewish ..

moshiachnow said...

You're right. I should've have spoken bad about Israel. It's the government that is the problem. The government in Israel needs to ensure that Israel is truly a Jewish state.

Anonymous said...

She is 100% correct.

Avrahm Avinu was kulo 'chesed' - it produced in many aspects a 'Yishmael'

Yitzchak - was kulo 'Gevura' - it produced in may aspects an 'Esav'

Yaakov was the proper mix of the two and mitaso shelamah.

Marriage is your best and worst along with 'Her' best and worst - and instead of killing each other - finding a 'central' space while RESPECTING each other TOTALLY!!! . . . . .

Joe Magdeburger said...

Dusizneias, I, like you was moved by the speech, which reflected a recognition that changes of heart and opinion come very slowly. Moshiachnow expressed a lot of my wishes for the future, yet I recognise that I must live day to day with people whose goals are different. I would like to have lauded you for posting this speech, which left tears in my eyes, but your sneering, name calling reply to Moshiachnow reeked of the very sort of intolerance that MK Friedman spoke so eloquently. I have seen people who are emphatic and even a bit strident inch towards a common understanding of what the problems are, and a mapping out of tactical differences and differences of principle. You took a step forward towards achtus in posting MK Friedman's speech. You took two step s backward in your sneering, name calling diatribe against Moshiachnow, whose ancestry you impugned as well. Having weighed in against divisiveness with your well chosen posting, I would like to suggest that you klop al khet on your own chest, instead of punching those of your readers with whom you disagree.

Dusiznies said...

Joe Magdeburger
I posted the video because of her message..
But I don't agree with her at all
She herself is a leftist who is behind much of the agendas of the left.
She wants "achdos" with those who murdered the Fogel family, she wants "achdos" with the one who murdered a soldier who was an only child
She wants "achdos' with murderers ...
She does not practice what she preaches ... as she has absolutely no tolerance for anyone on the right ...
do a google search on that ...
But on the other hand I loved her message.. and posted it to the public ...
But she will as she predicted herself be perhaps a few months in the knesset before she will be voted out ..
and Israel will be much better off
I would rather have an anti_semite Arab in the Knesset who hates Israel instead of someone who preaches Love and hates everyone who doesn't agree with her far-leftist polices and is a liar..
Having said that
Moshiachnow is telling us that we cannot have a State unless we do that or that
We have a lot of work to do ,,,, but the State of Israel is a reality
and practically all the words of the Naviiem have come to fruition
Moshiachnow preaches Christian theology that preaches that Jesus will never come back if the Jews don't repent ...
Even Moshe had someone who desecrated Shabbos
Yehoshua had Jews that worshipped Idols
During the times Dovid Hamelech ww had civil war where Jews killed each other and yet the Bais Hamikdash was built
I dont need fakers preaching to us and when I see it I will call them out
He should check out his ancestors ...