Not anyone specific, that is, only about one million Russian immigrants…
It should be noted that, prior to his minor stroke, Rav Ovadia has been vocal about his fear of the conscription of Haredi yeshiva students. He even went as far as to state that the conscription would drive many Haredim to leave the country (which many secular Israelis welcomed with cheers).
But their mentor heavy emphasis on this aspect of government, as well as his previous complaints about Netanyahu’s promises to take away the housing ministry from Shas, indicate what Labor would have to do to bring Shas over to “the dark side”:
1. Delay any decision on enlistment of Haredi yeshiva students. 2. Award Shas their three desired ministries, Housing, Interior, and Religious Affairs (one for each top leader). 3. Money, money, money—the key to gaining the love of any Haredi party.
In that context, it is important to remember that while its religious message may be right-wing, Shas’s views on the welfare state are downright Socialist.
Also, Shelly Yachimovich ahs been telling anyone who would listen these past few days, that, should Labor gain 25 seats in the coming elections, President Peres will tap her for the next prime minister.
And, finally, Peres is rumored to have been stirring the pot—with the support of Haim Ramon—trying to get the three leftist leaders, Yachimovich, Livni and Lapid, to form a coalition even before the elections. Count on that group to figure out a way to bypass Netanyahu on the way to a 61-62 seat majority:
The left is expected to gain 40-41 seats. The Arabs will bring home between 10-11. Add to that an 11-seat Shas and you’ve got yourself an apocalyptic coalition.
Likudniks might say that this nightmare scenario should convince folks to give their votes to Likud-Beitenu rather than to, say, Naftali Bennett or Power for Israel. But those two would tell you that if you won’t vote for either one of them, you’ll get a left-leaning Likud government.
Thank God, it’s only 10 more days…
Now, as promised: The Stinky Maneuver.
In 1990, Secretary of State James Baker floated the first trial balloon regarding a conference that would include Israelis and Palestinians, to discuss a 2-state solution. Shimon Peres, who served as Yitzhak Shamir’s vice premier and as finance minister, was all in favor of the idea – Shamir killed it.
Labor’s three wise men—Shimon Peres, Yossi Beilin and Haim Ramon—concocted a secret deal with Aryeh Deri and Shas to topple the Likud-led government. Labor—which was a member of the coalition, mind you—called for a vote of no confidence in Shamir’s government, over the Baker proposal.
Shamir fired Peres on the spot, and the rest of Labor’s ministers resigned. Shamir watched in horror how the no confidence vote was approved by 60-55, supported by the Haredi Agudat Israel, and with most Shas MKs absent from the plenum.
The rest worked according to plan: President Haim Herzog tapped Shimon Peres, in his new role as head of the opposition, to cobble a new government, and by April 11, 1990, Peres presented his new, 61-member coalition government to the Knesset’s approval. Except now it was Peres’s turn to watch in horror, as only 59 members of his coalition (which included 6 anti-Zionist Arab MKs) showed up to vote.
The day before, or thereabout, the Lubavitcher Rebbe (whose people denied it and might continue to deny it until you get them in a closed room with enough vodka) directly ordered two Agudah MKs, Avraham Verdiger and Eliezer Mizrachi, to oppose the new government.
Eventually, the president had to turn back to Shamir, who, on June 11, presented a right-wing and Haredi coalition.
Yitzhak Rabin, who liked serving as Shamir’s defense minister, was irate at Peres for his underhanded tactics and, obviously, for the fact that they exploded in both their faces. Besides coining the term “the stinky maneuver,” Rabin also declared that it represented not just a tactical failure, but a conceptual failure as well. Rabin did not believe in trying to impose critical change on the country through a narrow government, especially not one that relied on Communist Arabs for its parliamentary stability.
Of course, that bit of wisdom didn’t stop Rabin himself from imposing the Oslo agreement only a year later, relying on a 62-member coalition government, two of those votes purchased with Volvos.
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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