It is amazing to see how the same people can be deceived time and again.
The two new stars of the Jewish Home Party, Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked – both fine and worthy people – were preparing themselves to run for a place on the Likud Knesset list. This time, though, the competition for a realistic place on the list was very tight. It was clear that the chances to get on the national list were slim. And so the well-orchestrated political exit of Bennett and Shaked – wrapped in Manhigut Yehudit terminology – was born. Their move, however, was the complete opposite of Manhigut Yehudit’s ideology. It was a patently sectoral move.
The struggle for the votes of the religious Zionists currently revolves around two parameters: Who will give more to the sector and who will better protect the land of Israel. Both of these parameters are an illusion. They divert the discussion to an irrelevant place and deflect attention from the main point of the debate. In both parameters, the advantage of a significant faith-based power base within the ruling party is clear and unequivocal. It has also proven itself well in the reality of the last four years. Real power cannot be acquired without the true integration that was expressed in the recent Likud primaries.
Why does the education minister send all Israeli students to the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron? Because of the members of the Jewish Home Party? Why does the transportation minister pave every road he can in Judea and Samaria? Because of Jewish Home MK Uri Orbach?
The above discussion is really nothing more than a smokescreen. If someone thinks that he can get more for his sector with the services of a sectoral middleman instead of with a direct and binding connection with the relevant minister – so be it. Whoever thinks that he can better protect the land of Israel from within a satellite party that is already committed to joining a coalition with the ruling party – and that has no other option – can go right ahead. Whoever has forgotten where the Jewish Home’s predecessor, the Mafdal, with its 12 mandates, was during the destruction of Sinai; how the Mafdal minister defused the political option for preventing the destruction of Gush Katif; how the Yesha Council – from where the current head of the Bayit Hayehudi came – sidelined an effective struggle against the destruction; and whoever has forgotten the entire sad history of sectoral politics, is invited to once again enjoy himself in the sectoral backyard.
The real discussion, however, revolves around a completely different point.
In a panel discussion at the Nechalim Yeshiva, Orbach asked me who would ensure that the next chief rabbi would be a Zionist – the Likud or the Mafdal? This question perfectly illuminates the two paths open now before the religious Zionist public. What is your dream? What is really important to you? A chief rabbi who sees eye to eye with you on the issues? Or a prime minister who believes in what you believe? All the other questions – like where you will get more funding (I think the answer is the Likud) – are irrelevant.
Look at yourself in the mirror and answer honestly – and then vote. But no putting your head in the sand, no buying the line that a new, improved Mafdal middleman with a secular fig leaf has suddenly morphed into the Likud and will lead the country. Ask yourself this question: What is your dream? Then choose between these next two questions: Is it leadership of the country like you were supposed to have been taught over the years? Or is it the comfort and familiarity of your sector?
What do you prefer, the chief rabbi or the prime minister? Do you believe that you have something other than religion to offer Israeli society? What is the relevance of your Torah outside your closed communities? What do you communicate about yourselves and your beliefs when you flee the Israeli reality for the fenced-in sector? What message do you project when you are afraid to present Israeli society with a leadership alternative based on your beliefs?