A New Party of Good Tidings

The second year in office is always a year for making things clear. The government's energy has waned, its weaknesses are obvious, and anyone with a sense of smell can detect its fears. Unless an act of God intervenes such as a sudden death, an enforced peace, a dramatic indictment or a surprising acquittal, everything is out in the open and predictable. It's simple and frighteningly simplistic.

Even though the old forces are worn out and exhausted, and the new forces are full of vitality, no real change is blowing in the wind. Television personality Yair Lapid and former chief of staff Dan Halutz are plotting, justifiably and with skill, to fill Kadima's shallowness. Aryeh Deri is checking the temperature of Shas' corpse and Eli Yishai, at the behest of the Rabbi of course. The veterans of the Labor Party's young guard are still sitting, as can be expected, with former minister Uzi Baram and planning their grand attack. And even Meretz's remnants are weakly trying to revive the coals that burned out long ago.

All of them are justified because the political system in its present form deserves a thorough shake-up; its dead branches must be trimmed, its weeds and other unnecessary parts must be uprooted. These people are justified, but they are boring; they are the same types as before. Their efforts are an attempt to replace the dead fish with other fish that will also die. That is because no one is prepared to admit that the water is polluted and the sea must be changed.

In almost every area of the Israeli rift we need a new and clean political ocean: on issues of war and peace, in the realm between religion and the state, in the spaces between the insensitive Jewish majority and the oppressed minorities. There is also a gap between the rich who grow richer and the have-nots who have less and less all the time.

The current political situation is still built on the basic concepts of the first days of Zionism. The chasm between Zionism and ultra-Orthodoxy became a fixture at the beginning of the 20th century. The challenge of the Israeli Arabs has been stagnating since 1948. And very soon Israel will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the occupation and its injustices. There is an abundance of passionate history, while the offerings of the present are poor.

The greatest internal threat to Israel's existence is the erosion of Israeli democracy, which has already lost its internal substance -- the values of freedom and total commitment to all its citizens.

The time has come for a new proposal, one that is exciting and challenging. The time has come for an Israeli party, a Jewish-Arab party, that will carry the banner of total commitment to equality, without a trace of discrimination and racism. It will be without Meretz's complications and Hadash's emotional baggage. A party that will sail far beyond the paradigms of classic Zionism, which to this day ignores the place of Israel's Arabs. A party that will demand full equality for all Israel's citizens, the kind of equality we demand for the Jews in the Diaspora wherever they live.

The party Israel Equality (Shivyon Yisrael ) -- with the acronym Shai in Hebrew, gift -- will fight for a state that will be a total democracy; everything else will be either personal or on the community level. The party will wrestle with the sanctimonious internal contradiction of "a Jewish and democratic state," which means a great deal of democracy for the Jews and too much Jewish nationalism for the Arabs. It will be the party of those who are committed to the supreme universal and Israeli cultural values of human dignity, the search for peace and a desire for freedom, justice and equality.

Those who vote for it and its candidates will accept the definition of Israel as "a state whose regime is democratic and egalitarian, and which belongs to all its citizens and communities. The state in which the Jewish people have chosen to renew their sovereignty and where they realize their right to self-determination." The practical expression of this commitment will be a supreme effort to change the social balance of power, which is unjust, to give equal opportunities to the entire population in Israel, regardless of national background, ethnic origin, race, sex or sexual preference.

The new party will cooperate with anyone willing to return to peaceful borders, to help end the occupation and all the injustices that spring from it. This party will always be at the forefront of the struggle against hatred and incitement; it will be for everyone who has given up on the current Israeli political scene. It will offer the possibility of good tidings for everyone who is fed up with everything that is impossible in the current situation.