How to Rebuild the

50:30:20 Operating System

October 6, Simchat Torah eve

Two profound crises have dogged Israel in recent years, characterizing the country up until the day before the war started: the social cohesion crisis and the governance crisis. Each was a distinct entity, but they also fed into and complemented one another.

The first is the social cohesion crisis: the crisis among ourselves.

Israel is experiencing a deep crisis of values and identity. Israel’s division into four tribes expresses the lack of an agreed-upon core and the existence of antithetical worldviews, preventing Israeli society from working together to address challenges at home and abroad — to the point where some have proposed dividing Israel into cantons.

The second is the governance crisis: the crisis between us and the government.

This crisis is characterized by the growing gulf between the size and complexity of the challenges facing the state and the ability and capacity of the state’s institutions and governing figures to tackle them successfully. This gulf results from a lack of trust between the people and the authorities and among the different authorities themselves. This creates profound paralysis in the government, an erosion of the effectiveness and image of the public sector, and a lack of ability and motivation to plan for the long term.

Oct. 7

October 8

On October 8, these crises gained additional significance. We woke up that morning in profound shock, which turned to a grief too heavy to bear, which belongs to the whole of Israeli society. In addition to the security threat, we discovered the government’s powerlessness to handle the complex and convoluted event in which we found ourselves. 

Within this tremendous crisis, we also discovered social cohesion and solidarity in the interest of ensuring the continued existence of the State of Israel. At the same time, there is a fear that this social cohesion is brittle and frail and will not last long after the war.

How to Rebuild Israel — Social Cohesion and Governance

Rebuilding Israel’s political, governmental and social systems requires a new operating system, which we call 50:30:20. The operating system, which is built on shared Israeli foundations, obligates everyone and utilizes the characteristics and capabilities of local government and sectoral and community leadership to shape the lives of individuals in accordance with their unique worldviews and provide rapid, efficient and effective solutions — exactly what we needed in this war. 

The division is as follows: the Israel-wide level (50%), founded on shared Israeli identity, unwavering national responsibility, and our unity as citizens of the country and people with a shared fate; the local-sectoral level (30%), which facilitates expression of identity in the different spheres alongside the authorities’ responsibility for all residents; and the local-community level (20%), which expresses diverse local and community uniqueness and continuous close support networks.  

Here is how it will work: The Israel-wide level (50%), the largest of the three, will serve as an organizing framework for three central areas: (1) national institutions and bodies; (2) developing a shared vision; (3) policy and regulation (“ground rules”). As part of its role, the state will be responsible for establishing legal systems for the State of Israel; establishing a system of rights and responsibilities for all citizens; establishing a framework for military or civil service that obligates everyone but also allows for preserving identity; developing and implementing a national budgeting policy that incentivizes shared spaces; running the national diplomacy and defense systems; establishing a macro socioeconomic policy; defining national goals; responsibility for national infrastructure; and shaping statist ceremonies and events. 

At the heart of the local level (30%) stands the local government, the elected body that interacts with citizens in their daily lives and serves as a link between the individual and the central government. This body will gain additional authorities, responsibilities and budgets for education, culture, personal safety and identity in order to provide optimized and tailored services for residents in its jurisdiction; this will strengthen the individual’s sense of belonging and increase their political-civic engagement. 

The community level (20%) is one without official institutions, but with the potential for bolstering citizens’ sense of belonging, providing cultural freedom and a high level of security in their closest circles. The community level is in charge of services offered to citizens near their homes, such as small commerce centers; cultural and leisure activities in the afternoons and on holidays; informal education and 20% of formal education; tending to the immediate surroundings (e.g., community gardens); and developing religious, traditional and spiritual services adapted for each community, such as neighborhood houses of prayer and learning. For the community level to succeed, the state and the local government must encourage, cultivate and fund community organization, especially in places that are not organized around such lines; and the local level must create inter-community systems that enable different communities to live in peace as neighbors. 

The 50:30:20 operating system addresses the governance crisis and the social cohesion crisis by creating a broad consolidating level (50%) where all the sectors handle common matters together; while in the local level (30%), the different sectors receive more authority and funding to run their lives in accordance with their worldviews; and the citizens that are organized in communities (20%) receive more responsibility and ability to impact the closest spheres of life. Issues that in recent years have been at the center of the battle between sectors, such as public transportation on Shabbat, school curricula and gender segregation at cultural events, can be addressed in the official division between national, local and community levels. 

To briefly understand how the 50:30:20 operating system works in practice, we will take the issues of personal security and education in Israel as examples.

50:30:20 in Personal Security

The 50:30:20 operating system allows us to provide Israel’s citizens a three-ringed security system: The first ring is national (army, police), the second is local (the regional/municipal security department), and the third is community (the volunteer rapid response teams). The local ring (the regional/municipal security department) will be the coordinating body in charge of the volunteer community/rapid response teams. In such an operating system, if one ring of defense collapses, citizens still have two rings left. If a rapid response team is not functioning, the regional security department can deploy forces from place to place. The goal of the three-ring model is to ensure that civilians are armed in a structured and organized manner instead of the chaos liable to occur in the case of private firearms; to create a regionally-tailored, nationwide structure of volunteer civilians who are trained to defend their localities in a professional and organized manner; and to build systems for collaborating and coordinating between the three rings, with a clear division of authority and responsibility. The regional/municipal security department and the volunteer rapid response teams will operate in two areas: (1) continual preparation and training for crisis situations; and (2) routinely addressing local personal security challenges, in conjunction  and shared authority with the police.

50:30:20 in Education

Israel has four education systems, each of which has completely distinct educational goals, funding and curricula: Hebrew-state schools, state-religious schools, Arab-state schools, and ultra-Orthodox schools. The 50:30:20 operating system will change the structure of education in Israel without eliminating these education systems, but instead will allocate resources, funding and content into 50% that is common to all students in the country, 30% that is determined by the specific system, and 20% that is determined by the management and leadership of each school. The proposed operating system will ensure that all students in Israel receive the educational and ethical content that will allow them to integrate into Israeli society and the labor market, while also providing each sector with government funding to help it focus on its unique identity and heritage. The 20% of the budget and decision-making that is passed to the school administration and parent leadership will serve as a tool for local government to encourage more community engagement and responsibility for the content taught to students, helping to build strong, organized communities even in places where these do not currently exist.

The operating principle underpinning 50:30:20 is consolidation and decentralization, unification and multiplicity. We call this permissive statism. This is a two-directional movement, which on the one hand requires us to grant certain percentages of authority, responsibility and funding to the local and community levels, and on the other hand choose what we maintain as common in the Israel-wide state level. This will provide a space to create a shared Israeli narrative that is connecting and inclusive, while allowing different groups in society to have significant expression of ethics and identity in a way that is more effective, customized and identity-building. Thanks to the stratification of the levels and the increased involvement and civic engagement, each level will focus on what it does well, and we will all be partners in realizing the new operating system.