I'm certain there are going to be those of you who read this who will scratch their heads: "What took him so long!" None-the-less I feel it is important to go on record that just today, the 23rd of Sh'vat 5766 (02/21/2006) did I finally figure out what the Jewish-Israel argument is all about.
All these thirty five years that I live here in the State of Israel, it was totally understood (by me) that "the State" is a vehicle for the realization of the aspirations of the Jewish People. Somehow it was clear to me that Jews who came here, came because they wanted to live Jewishly in a cultural milieu that was "Jewish" in the Land that was the cradle of Jewish consciousness. Yes I realized there were many differing views of what "Jewish" meant to different people, but somehow I naively believed that there was enough common denominator to provide a basis for all us "Jews" to work together and find a workable modus vivendi.
What apparently has happened is a divergence between those of us who see the State of Israel as a "means" to something greater, and those who have turned the existing reality into an "end-in-itself". Simplistic? Yeah but it works!
The "Israeli"s are very threatened by the idea that we "Jews" are not satisfied with the existing State of Israel, it's institutions (Parliament, Justice System, Law Enforcement Agencies). To the degree that they perceive our growing dissatifaction as a threat, they entrench themselves into positions of defending an obviously deficient if not corrupt system. More over, they actively seek ways of fossilizing the existing system in the hope that this will guarantee its preservation in the face of the demographic threat of the Jews.
On the other hand, as "holy" as the State of Israel may be to the National Religious, they still only see it as a "keli" or instrument. The "holiness" stems not from the instrument itself, but its purpose or ultimate objective. From 'day-one' the religious establishment has seen the existing organisms of the State of Israel as a temporary compromise, with the hope that improvements could be made as things developed. There are no "holy cows" when it comes to the secular institutions of the state!
Ironically it is the Israelis who have 'fossilized' the State and its frameworks into some sort of "Golden Calf" for whom any thought of change, especially democratization and increasing accountability to the electorate and the public is deemed sacrilegious.
It never ceases to amaze me how the imagery and metaphors of Jewish history are often as relevant today as they were millennium ago!