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November 23, 2014 / 1 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘National Religious Party’

Respect for Rabbis in the Political Sphere

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

In debates with their Haredi peers, national-religious youths will often be heard to demand why the Haredim do not respect national-religious rabbis. “What about our great Torah scholars!”

But why should the Haredim respect national-religious rabbis if those rabbis’ own community does not?

A letter released this week by deputy mayors belonging to the Jewish Home in the most public way possible—it was published on all the usual sites, including Haredi ones—asks the parties’ rabbis not to interfere with political decisions made by the party’s negotiating team or by the party’s Knesset members, even on the topic of yeshiva students’ military service.

Would a Haredi ever release such a letter?

The settlement movement, it is important to remember, was not the work of professionals and businessmen. It was the work of national-religious rabbis holding discussions at the home of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook through the wee hours of the morning. Hanan Porat and Yehuda Hazani are no longer with us, but we still have rabbis: Moshe Levinger—we’ll return to him—Yaakov Levin, Yaakov Novick, Yohanan Fried, Yoel Bin Nun, Menachem Felix. We still have great Torah scholars: Benny Katzover, Yehuda Etzion, Mati Dan, David Be’eri (of Ir David), Ze’ev “Zambish” Hever (of Amana). All of them participated in creating the settlement enterprise from their book stands at their respective yeshivot. That is what gave rise to the settlement revolution. The revolution in national-religious education, for that matter, was likewise the work of wise and devout rabbis, including Hayim Drukman, Dov Lior, Eliezer Melamed, and others.

And now they come and tell us that when it comes to truly important questions of morality and policy, decisions are to be made without the rabbis. Period.

How are they going to distinguish between what is permissible in politics and what is forbidden? How are they going to strike a balance between what is desirable and what is presently available? No problem. That’s the job of the new halakhic decision-makers: the “professionals.”

True, they never imbibed the Torah as did those rabbis, who for their entire lives have dedicated themselves to the Torah (in the vernacular: they put their heart and soul into it day and night. No movies. No Shlomo Artzi concerts). But apparently it makes no difference. Apparently the Torah does not rub off on its students. Apparently it is not in any way reflected in how they live their lives …

It’s all very strange to me. The Haredim, who regard the State of Israel as an entirely secular phenomenon lacking any and all sanctity, consult their rabbis about such matters. Yet the national-religious community—the community that burst forth into the world of national practicalities and leadership with the message that the State of Israel is the beginning of the redemption, that our country is God’s throne, that the politics of Israel is the politics of holiness—sends the rabbis home, the better to leave decisions to politicians and interested parties.

In a recent emergency meeting of Haredi rabbis in Bnei Brak, I saw precisely the opposite. The Knesset members stood at the rear with modesty and obvious veneration. They maybe even have been posing a little. But one way or another, it was moving. Respect for the Torah. A RECENT conversation with a young national-religious activist made clear to me that this is a deep-seated phenomenon among the younger generation. He sees the change as a positive development. “The rabbis don’t understand politics. Let them leave it to professionals.”

It’s not that he doesn’t respect the rabbis. He just leaves them out of the equation. In a debate with a Haredi he would go straight for the line about “our great Torah scholars,” but deep down he doesn’t in fact believe that Torah study improves a person.

Like him, I am not a Torah scholar. So why do I see things so differently? Is it just a matter of age?

Many of today’s young religious people have grown up in a culture that is more in touch with the media and secular literature than with rabbis, and may even be hostile to the latter. In an effort not to be different from the other guys on reserve duty, they run away from their rabbis. Is it realistic to demand they respect rabbis when their role models are businessmen and their commanders in the army? I received my initial education about respecting rabbis from my late father, an Auschwitz survivor. Once he took me to see the rebbe of Gur. Abba stood opposite the rebbe wearing a belt that one of the Hassidim had given him (“You go in to see the rebbe wearing a gartel”)—and burst into tears. The rebbe asked why he was crying. And my father answered: “Excitement.” I was nine years old, but I remember it as if it had happened yesterday.

Who is the Real Naftali Bennett?

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

There’s a phenomena I’ve noticed in both Israeli Knesset Elections and in our local elections for the Mazkirut (sort of town council) here in Shiloh.  The less known the candidate the more votes he or she gets.  I guess it’s because those people haven’t yet made enemies and their weaknesses are still unknown.  In the forty plus years I’ve been living in Israel, I’ve seen so many political parties and “leaders” come and go.

Many people, including a substantial number of English-speaking immigrants, regarded you as a breath of fresh air in Israeli politics. You promised to bridge the gap between all sectors of the population. You promised to honor the Torah and the world of Torah learning. You promised to strengthen the Jewish settlement in every corner of our beloved homeland….

Naftali Bennett is a wealthy man, having made his fortune by selling an innovative high tech company, the dream of many.  Many people had hoped that he’d be the dati le’umi (national religious) version of Jerusalem’s very competent and successful Nir Barkat.  But Bennett has been increasingly disappointing his voters. Arutz 7 has an op-ed/blog by Rabbi Lazer Brody that expresses the disappointment many of Bennett’s voters feel.

Naftali, where are those values in your pact with Yair Lapid? Why have you taken the cheap populist stance of drafting the Haredim, as if thousands of them aren’t already serving today? Why are you strengthening Lapid’s hand in limiting deferments to 2,000 Torah learners? … You could have been the individual that forced the IDF to be more sensitive to the needs of Haredi soldiers. You could have been the one who tripled the size of the Nahal Haredi and the IAF programs for Haredi hi-tech specialists. You could have been the one to make sure that a soldier doesn’t get kicked out of officer’s school for refusing to listen to women singing, or other ridiculous anti-religious excuses. You could also have been the hero that puts an end to the deligitimization of the holy Yeshivot and those who truly learn Torah… Naftali, talk is cheap; your “unbreachable pact” with Lapid shows exactly who you really are. We all make mistakes. We can all correct them, too. I urge you, for the sake of Torah and Eretz Yisrael, to reassess your position…  I implore you to rethink your position. Go out to the field and talk to Hashem for an hour – ask Him if you are doing His will. Seek His help and He’ll be glad to guide you. If you make your “unbreachable pact” with Hashem, you’re bound to succeed…

As my regular readers know well, I’m not an NRP-a.k.a. Bayit Yehudi voter and never was.  The main reason is that I don’t think a political parties should be rooted, labeled as religious or secular.  I prefer an inclusively Israeli-Jewish political party that recognizes the importance and centrality of Judaism to the State of Israel.

The stodgy old NRP-National Religious Party has been around since before the establishment of the State of Israel.  It had been loosing support over the past couple of decades.  The NRP has been looking for an attractive marketable head to bring it back to “its former glory.”  Bennett has been flitting around the Israeli political scene ever since he came back from his great financial success in the USA.  It had looked like a good match, and Bennett also seemed to be coated with teflon.  He had no big problem wiping away the complaints about himself.

His short time with Moetzet YESHA was easy to blame on Moetzet YESHA, and his departure from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s inner circle was even easier to blame on Sara Netanyahu.

Now, the NRP is getting nervous.  They should have looked more carefully before signing the Ketuba, marriage contract with Bennett.  Who are the two people closest to Bennett?  From what I have read, they are Bennett’s wife and his long-time sidekick Ayelet Shaked, who joined him as the token secular in the NRP.  Both of those women are secular.  In the Israeli political/ideological scene that puts them and therefore him in a very different mindset from your NRP-Bnai Akiva circle.

Just think about it…

P.S. This isn’t lashon haraa, evil speech.  Nothing I’ve written is secret, and these sorts of observations are permitted when it comes to public figures who are vying for national leadership.

The Future Coalition and the Israeli Right

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

So the final results are almost completely tallied and it’s pretty bad for the right-wing, especially Likud-Beitenu, despite the fact that the Benjamin Netanyahu will likely form the next government.

The only threat to Netanyahu forming the government is a joint Shas-Lapid boycott. Likud-Beitenu and Jewish Home comprise 43 seats. Shas and UTJ (17) bring it up to 61 or Lapid (19) will bring it up to 62. Only if Lapid, Shas and UTJ (or even Lapid and Shas) boycott Netanyahu will Netanyahu not be able to form the government. That scenario would also require Livni and Yachimovitch and Lapid to agree on making one of these three their candidate for Prime Minister, which is even more unlikely. Also, Shas publicly endorsed Netanyahu for Prime Minister in an advertisement prior to the elections, apparently counting on the fact that Lapid will compromise on a universal draft.

Nevertheless, for Netanyahu to form a stable coalition (closer to 70 seats) he would need to Shas and/or UTJ compromise with a plan to draft Hareidim, as he said in his “victory” speech last night that he plans to make a priority and because Lapid is now too large to ignore, especially relative to a weak Likud.

Kadima – which escaped what would have been a well-deserved political death – could be another leftist party which Netanyahu could bring on board to strengthen the coalition, especially if Shas will not join.  This would bring the coalition up to 64 seats, that’s still not that stable, but at least Kadima won’t be able to ask for much with it’s meager two seats.

That would mean giving Mofaz something that Mofaz would feel will make him and Kadima relevant until the next elections, perhaps some lessor ministry or as a minister without portfolio. (Mofaz’s other options to survive through the next elections are (a) to somehow re-establish himself outside the government, which is unlikely; (b) to rejoin the Likud with his tail between his legs, which is also unlikely considering how he treated Netanyahu after Netanyahu brought him into the coalition before; (c) merge with another left-wing party which would be equally embarrassing for him and also unprofitable for the other party; or, (d) wait for Olmert to return and save him).

Some other thoughts:

* The success of Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid in garnering 19 mandates, making it the second largest of all parties is the biggest surprise of the election. It’s almost twice as high as Lapid polled before the elections and 19 more than Lapid had before as this is his first election. Like Liberman before, Lapid will likely be Netanyahu’s major partner as under almost any coalition figuration Yesh Atid can bring down the coalition.

* The Jewish Home’s success was not as great as predicted but it was still quite an achievement to garner 12 Knesset seats. The joint Jewish Home-National Union list represented only seven seats in the outgoing Knesset and only a few months ago hoped to get up to 10 seats in the next Knesset. Kudos to them for running a great campaign, including Anglo candidate Jeremy Gimpel who chaired the English-speakers campaign and Jeremy Saltan who was the English-speaker’s campaign manager, despite the fact that Gimpel himself will not be in the next Knesset.

* The Likud-Beitenu’s drop from 42 seats in the outgoing Knesset to 31 in the next is the second biggest surprise. Liberman said last night that he does not regret the merger: Of course he doesn’t, his party only dropped to 11 seats in the Knesset, from 15, despite the fact that he has been indicted, based on testimony from one of his former lieutenants and was absent during the campaign.

The Likud on the other hand lost its upward momentum and now comprises only 20 Knesset seats (only one more than newcomer Lapid). That’s quite an embarrassment for the what is supposed to be the leading party in Israel.

Not that Liberman/the merger should take all the blame. The campaign was terrible from almost every angle – functionally and strategically – and Netanyahu’s no-risk political philosophy may also be to blame for failing to motivate new voters, even though it is good for managing a coalition and providing much-needed stability to the country.

* The “Right” as a whole lost out. Instead of 65 seats (or more, even up to 71 according to some polls), it now has 61. And, remember, the right-wing bloc is not necessarily all right-wing. UTJ is only right-wing on religious issues. On Judea and Samaria, standing up to the international community and economic issues, it is to the left. Shas is also to the left on economic issues and with Aryeh Deri back at the helm it is not clearly to the right when it comes to security-territory issues. Even without Deri, Shas was the prop that kept the Olmert government together after the Second Lebanon War. So really the Right has only 43 reliable seats (Likud-Beitenu + Jewish Home).

The Foreign Media’s ‘Rightward Shift’ Never Happened

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Almost final results from Israel’s Central Election Commission show that the Guardian mantra – parroted by nearly every commentator and reporter who’s been providing ‘analysis’ on the Israeli elections – warning of a hard and dangerous shift to the right will prove to have been entirely inaccurate.

In the final days before the vote, the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood seemed certain that the elections would bring “a more hawkish and pro-settler government,” and Guardian Middle East Editor Ian Black warned that “Netanyahu [was] poised to…head a more right-wing and uncompromising government than Israel has ever seen before.”

Rachel Shabi predicted that Israel would elect “the most right-wing government in its history“, while Jonathan Freedland expressed gloom that diaspora Jews would have to watch “the centre of gravity… shift so far rightward [in Israel] that Netanyahu and even Lieberman will look moderate by comparison.”

However, based on preliminary reports, not only does it appear that there has been absolutely no rightward shift, but the makeup of the next Knesset may be slightly more left than the current one.

While in 2009 the right-wing bloc bested the center-left bloc by 65-55, the results of this election show that the new Knesset will have a narrower (61-59) right-bloc advantage.

The top three parties will be Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu with 31 Knesset seats, the centrist Yesh Atid with 19, and the leftist Labor Party with between 16-18. The rightist party, Jewish Home, headed by Naftali Bennett, came in fourth and will have 12, while Shas, the ultra-orthodox party, came in fifth with 11.

Some Israeli commentators are already predicting that Binyamin Netanyahu will attempt to form a centrist or even a right-center-left coalition.

Though the final results aren’t expected to be announced until the early hours of Wednesday, a few things are certain:

The Guardian and other foreign media invested heavily in promoting their desired political narrative of a Jewish state lurching dangerously towards the right.

They got it completely wrong.

Visit CifWatch.

My Vote Won’t Help Sell Out the Land of Israel

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

A reader asked me who I am voting for and why.

Once upon a time, there was a group of people who wanted to rob a bank, but they needed a van and driver. They approached a man with a van, and invited him to join them, offering to reward him lucratively for his services. He told them that he was against robbing banks and he couldn’t accept stolen money. So they promised to pay him up front, not with money stolen from the bank. When he agreed, the group finished all their plans for the robbery, paying the driver up front. When the time came, the driver drove them to the bank and dropped them off at the corner. Seeing a policeman walking down the street, the driver quickly sped off, wanting nothing to do with the robbery, just as he told the group at the beginning. Eventually, all the thieves were arrested, along with the driver, who insisted he hadn’t participated in the robbery at all. “I’m innocent. I’m innocent,” he protested, but the judge found him guilty along with the others.

I am voting for “Otzma L’Yisrael” because I don’t want to be part of a robbery. What robbery? It is no secret that the Likud and Yisrael Betanu are in favor of the Two-State Solution, which would steal a giant chunk of Israel from the Jews and give it to the Arabs. The Two-State Solution is a part of their platform. So I can’t vote for them.

The Jewish Home party, “HaBayit HaYehudi,” has announced that they want to be a part of the coalition in the next government that Bibi will form. Even though they are against the Two-State Solution, they want to “influence from within.” They will probably stipulate in the coalition agreement that if the government enters into negotiations with the Arabs and decides to actualize the Two-State Solution plan, the Jewish Home party will be free to leave the coalition before the treaty is signed, just like the driver who took off before the robbery took place. In the meantime, for helping the coalition get to the signing ceremony, the Jewish Home will receive ample reward in the form of government positions, and money for worthwhile projects. But when it comes time for the photos of Bibi shaking hands with Mohammed, the members of the Jewish Home party will all hold up their hands and say, “Our hands are clean. We were against the robbery from the beginning!”

This scenario has happened before. The Mafdal party, the forerunner of the Jewish Home, was a member of the Sharon government leading up to the Disengagement from Gush Katif. They held the coalition in place while Sharon craftily arranged the robbery, then pulled out of the government when the end was already a fait accompli. Bibi did the very same thing, voting against the Disengagement on the final day, when the battle was already lost, after having helped the government get there, so he could hold up his hands and say, “I had nothing to do with the robbery.”

I don’t want to help anyone rob banks, and I certainly I don’t want to help anyone sell the Land of Israel down the drain. So I can’t vote for the Likud, and I can’t vote for the good people in the Jewish Home party, even though they are against giving Israel away to the Arabs, and even though they intend to pull out of Bibi’s government just before the robbery, because by sitting in such a government, they will be accomplices to the theft. And even if such a treaty is never signed, I still can’t vote for a party which will be a part of a government that advocates giving away the Land of God for “peace,” because, as Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook taught his students, even talking about surrendering the Land of Israel is as forbidden as eating pork.

So I’m voting for Power for Israel – “Otzma L’Yisrael,” because they don’t want to sit in a government that has given a phony Kashrut certificate to Two-State Solutions that steal from the Jewish People, violate the Torah, and make a mockery of the word of God.

Bennet’s Staff: ‘Netanyahu’s People Negotiated the Pact between Orlev and Hershkowitz’

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Over the past four years there has been some bitter infighting between the two Bayit Yehudi party members, Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz and MK Zevulun Orlev, IDF Radio reported. Their relationship has been one of contempt and mistrust, to put it gently. Now, suddenly, there’s been a reconciliation at the helm of the National Religious Party. As Orlev put it: “Even though we’ve had our downhill slopes during our past term in office, I have willingly agreed to a joint leadership for the party, and everything will be carried out in unity.”

Orlev and Hershkowitz agreed on Monday night to what they call “a joint leadership based on the Shas party model.” Hershkowitz, who is behind in the polls, announced that he wouldn’t run for chairman of the party or even for a Knesset seat, but would participate in leading and managing the party. This decision will benefit Orlev who is running against Naftali Bennet, a one time member of Netanyahu’s team who has been on bad terms with the premier for the past several years. Sources close to Bennet say that Netanyahu’s supporters negotiated the “peace treaty” between Orlev and Hershkowitz in order to thwart Bennet’s political career.

Heshkowitz denies the charges. “People claim that Natan Eshel was involved in making the deal – I want to make it completely clear that this matter has no connection to the prime minister, neither directly nor indirectly.”

Bennet’s headquarters reacted by saying, “The old political system was completely exposed tonight. The public is looking for leadership, not an employment arrangement for politicians.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/bennets-staff-netanyahus-people-negotiated-the-pact-between-orlev-and-hershkowitz/2012/10/23/

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