By Rabbi Ben-Tzion Spitz
How Zehut is like sorbet for vegans
I’m using the term “Vegan” here for analogy purposes. Vegans – for idealistic or health reasons – avoid any animal-based product, including milk. It is a group that I admire tremendously, though I personally have not had the fortitude to join their ranks.
Now I’d like to imagine an ice cream parlor which exists for the sole purpose of catering to vegans. It advertises itself proudly as “The Vegan Ice Cream Parlor.”
Unfortunately, the ice cream parlor serves only milk-based products: chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and a dozen other flavors, all made with milk. Each flavor advertises in big bold letters “Ideal for vegans!” However, if you look closely at the ingredients of each, you’ll see there’s milk in every single one.
This unusual situation continues for years, and what is truly surprising is that the otherwise steadfast and conscientious vegans, keep buying the ice cream from this store, believing the advertisement and eroding their ideals and in many cases (especially for the lactose intolerant) their health.
Then, a new company comes along and proposes to The Vegan Ice Cream Parlor a novel idea: “We’ve got sorbet, without a gram of milk. This will be perfect for your vegan customers.”
However, the established ice cream suppliers get up in arms and start to attack the sorbet producer:
“No one will ever buy sorbet!”
“Sorbet!? That doesn’t go with chocolate or with vanilla! Sorbet doesn’t go with anything! How could you even imagine selling it here?”
Ironically, the most vicious attacks come from the suppliers of strawberry, cherry and the other fruity ice-cream flavors: “People will confuse your sorbets with our true ice creams! We’ll lose sales! No way can you bring sorbet here!”
The attacks continue in their ferocity and shrillness. The loyal vegan customers side with the established players:
“I never heard of sorbet.”
“What’s sorbet? I like the vanilla that I’m used to.”
“The sign on this chocolate still says, “Ideal for vegans!” I’m sticking with that.
“How do you even pronounce “sorbet”? I’m staying away from this strange offering.”
However, some young customers get wind of what’s going on. They press the shop owner to consider the sorbet. They tell their friends and relatives that they don’t know what they’re missing:
“Did you ever take a close look at the regular ice creams? Do you know how much milk they actually have? Do you know that sorbet has no milk whatsoever?”
More people took interest. More people realized: “Hey, this sorbet is a really good option. I can’t imagine why I was willing to eat regular ice cream all these years. I want sorbet!”
But as the interest in sorbet grew, so did the attacks:
“Sorbet is a menace.”
“Sorbet will ruin the way the store operates.”
“Sorbet will harm our customers.”
But the more the attacks grew, the more the interest in sorbet grew.
People with no connection to the sorbet company started campaigning for the store to carry sorbet. They took to the streets. They put signs up showing their support for sorbet. They posted on social media “I want sorbet!” The sorbet company’s book “How I found sorbet and gave up my ice cream dependence,” became a bestseller.
Sorbet, in this case, is none other than the new ZEHUT political party that I’m a part. What is the “milk” that all the other parties are selling to our otherwise steadfast “vegan” friends?
- The milk is the fiction that these parties are loyal to the land of Israel. Every single player, both in the current coalition and outside it, has either encouraged or stood by as multiple expulsions of Jews from our land were implemented. The most recent ones were all under the government of Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu and their coalition partners. The world gets up in arms whenever the shadow of forceful transfer or ethnic cleansing is raised. Yet when Israel does it to its own citizens, it’s somehow acceptable. “It’s for peace,” many say. If anyone honestly thinks that the expulsion of Jews from Gaza didn’t significantly hurt both “peace” and our security – then no logic or argument will be of any use.
- The milk is the fiction of a free economy. Israelis, compared to citizens of most of the OECD countries, work the hardest, pay the most and earn the least. Except for a few exceptional industries (like hi-tech), Israel is a socialist, protectionist, monopolistic economy with the wealth of the country directed to just a handful of well-connected families with the help of the political elite.
- The milk also represents the fiction that we have a free media or judicial system. The media is controlled by a few families (see point #2 above) with very clear agendas. They are deceiving the public to further their own agenda. The court system as well, has a very clear agenda, which in general it actively pursues, ignoring the classic separation of powers and encroaching more and more on the Knesset and the legislative process.
The current parties are selling themselves based on personalities, slogans, old loyalties and empty promises. That’s extremely effective for a population with a limited attention span and intellectual laziness that lives off soundbites, and whose extent of political discourse is to parrot what they heard on the radio or read on social media.
What happened to critical thinking? What happened to seeing beyond the superficial? This is our future that we’re talking about.
I promise that you’ll be impressed. I promise that you will be filled with hope that there can be a better way to run our country. I promise that you will understand that it was written by serious people, seeing our serious issues and providing serious solutions.
It is not a platform of slogans, one-liners or simple solutions. It is a well-thought-out vision and plan for our future. It is the work of multiple people over multiple years, with decades-worth of experience, study and insight in each area. You may not agree with everything in the platform, but I doubt you won’t find something in it and say to yourself: “That makes an incredible amount of sense.”
When you then ask yourself why it hasn’t been implemented yet, you’ll start to understand the extent of the protectionism, corruption and self-interest of so many of the current political parties.
If you want a breath of fresh air to enter the putrid halls of Israeli politics, check out ZEHUT (even if you’re not vegan).
Ben-Tzion Spitz is a former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay and current candidate for Knesset with the Zehut party.