For 50 years leftwing Israeli politicians have been looking for ways to reject the divine gift the Jewish State had received in 1967 – when the entire Biblical Land of Israel was once again under Jewish rule. If they were on the right, they invented a myriad schemes to reject the same gift while pretending their commitment to the idea of Greater Israel was still intact.
As a result, argues MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi), our Jewish Man of the year for 5777, the Israeli-Arab conflict between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean continued to brew, and close to half a million Israelis who moved to the liberated territories have been harassed and abused by their government – living under martial law, subject to daily violent attacks, police and military repression, administrative detentions, demolitions and expulsion.
MK Smotrich has done a lot to bolster the rightwing Jewish agenda in 5777, with the meticulous legal work of the Regavim movement he helped found, with his parliamentary work, and, most importantly, his New Hope plan for peace in the Land of Israel through the firm establishment of Jewish sovereignty.
Meanwhile, his colleague at the Habayit Hayehudi Knesset faction, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, has been doing battle with a judicial elite that has been striving to crown itself Israel’s permanent government.
A believer in Madisonian democracy, Shaked mixed an admirable ministerial temperament with a great deal of political savvy to force the hand of the outgoing Supreme Court President Justice Miriam Na’or in appointing the next four justices – with every single one of them being conservative judges who will surely temper Israel’s hyper-activist court.
Shaked has engaged in an effort to reclaim the full legislative powers of the Knesset, and restrain a high court that has appointed itself the 121st MK and proceeded to vote with the opposition to shoot down coalition laws – while teaching Israelis that when the High Court kills properly legislated laws, it usurps the authority of the country’s only true ruler, its voting citizenry.
Both Smotrich’s and Shaked’s campaigns are not based on original ideas – several persons in the rightwing marketplace of ideas have espoused them for decades (most notably former MKs Moshe Feiglin and Arieh Eldad). The difference is that both Smotcrich and Shaked have shown their ability to mobilize considerable political might in the pursuit of their ideas, which is why we would be happy to see either one of them as Israel’s next Prime Minister.
It is telling that Smotrich and Shaked are both leaders from the same party, which, due to the inspired leadership of its chairman, Naftali Bennett, has managed to integrate an observant Jewish tradition with secular cultural and political ideals.
Here’s hoping the year 5778 will see even more astute leadership by both Bezalel Smotrich and Ayelet Shaked.