Last week, I was sitting with a donor, talking about the ongoing protests and political stalemate we find ourselves in here in Israel. Naturally, we both lamented the state of affairs and found a significant point of agreement: We can’t afford not to continue trying to find our way out.
We can’t give up – this country means too much to us to just sit back and let it fall apart.
He agreed that this year, in order to help us bring together people from both sides of the spectrum in dialogue and discussion, he would increase his annual donation by a factor of five.
Fast forward to a few days later. I received an email from an Israeli I had never met, now living on the US West Coast. In the email, he recounted how, in the 30 years since he left Israel, he has not been more fearful. He had searched for an organization involved in helping to facilitate dialogue and communication between two sides that are seemingly drifting further and further from one another. He cares too much to just sit idly by and watch it continue.
He wanted to become part of the solution.
Finally, in a third episode just a day later, I was meeting with a venture capitalist friend of mine. While he was sure that the hype of the economy collapsing is overblown and that this, too, would pass, he was concerned enough to express his feelings that we need to put an end to this crisis and sit both sides down to figure out a way forward together. No one is going anywhere, and the only way forward is to build a cohesive society.
He, too, upped his donation, by 100%.
On my travels to the US recently, a former classmate asked me how I can be optimistic about what’s going on in Israel; reading the newspaper headlines from afar leaves him no room to see a way forward. As he put it, the hype has replaced the hope. So I sat down with him for a cup of coffee. I showed a recent poll that said that one-third of Israelis are thinking about picking up and leaving due to the current situation.
Yes, I said, when I saw that I too, was aghast. But then I searched and found headlines from a few years back: In 2012, a similar question was asked. The hysterical headline in a leading newspaper read that almost 40% of Israelis are contemplating leaving Israel.
“So,” I concluded, “we are actually making progress. In just a decade, the numbers have gone down.”
Next, I showed him a recent poll. I’m not taking a political stand when I point out that the only party with significant upward movement is the only party openly calling for a unity government and for compromise. The National Unity Party, in the most recent polls, would garner 28 seats in the Knesset – a huge increase from the 12 seats they currently hold.