Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

9 Tammuz 5759 - June 23 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
The Extreme Left is Not In the National Consensus

Even though Ehud Barak won and he is the candidate of the Left, his difficulties in putting together a government have made it clear that the country as a whole -- and certainly not the Jews -- did not vote for the Left. This is the reality that the Left has never come to terms with: they are in the minority in Israel.

Various tricks and changes have been tried by the Left -- raising the minimum for Knesset representation, the change in the election system that has the prime minister elected directly by all the voters -- in order to try to destroy or minimize the influence of the religious parties, but it has not worked for them. The reason is simple: the religious people are a sizable proportion of the Israeli electorate and, even more important, they are a genuine part of the true national consensus.

It is easy to be fooled by all the trees that are the 16 (!) different parties elected to the Knesset into thinking that the people of Israel are hopelessly fragmented into different groups that cannot get along together. But this is not true. There is still a single forest that can be called the Jewish consensus -- and the religious parties are emphatically part of it.

If we speak of a national consensus, it does not necessarily mean that all parts of that consensus agree on all things. Southern Republicans in the United States, for example, do not always see eye-to-eye with their northern counterparts. Also, a Democrat from a particular state may not always vote his party line, especially if it is on a matter that vitally affects the interests of his home state. Yet if there are broad matters of approach in common and certain fundamental, shared values, then there exists a basis for forming a single party -- or government. (UTJ of course cannot be a partner to a government that is not based on Torah, but it does participate.)

We are not prepared to fully characterize the consensus that exists in the State of Israel today, particularly since its limits are by no means clear. That is to say, it is very hard to know just how far it extends, but nonetheless, some things about its core are very clear, even if the Left will not admit it: the religious are in and the extreme anti-religious are out.

Ehud Barak did not win because of his anti-chareidi positions but in spite of them. In fact, it is more accurate to say that Netanyahu lost the election than that Barak won, and even then Netanyahu got over 49% of the Jewish vote. Much of the country may prefer to see the yeshiva students drafted (and this mainly because of the incessant propaganda of the Leftist-controlled mass media) but they can easily live with them continuing to study Torah. It may be that a majority is happy with them continuing in yeshivas, but it is hard to know. It is, however, easy to see that the vast majority of the country (and even the Members of Knesset) would not mind leaving the yeshiva bochurim on the benches of the yeshivas where they belong.

The same holds true for other key issues. The national consensus supports or at least tolerates the religious position.

On the contrary, it is the extreme anti-religious position that is beyond the pale, and this is what has been giving Barak a hard time. The uncompromisingly anti-religious positions taken during the election campaign by Meretz and that disgusting demagogic journalist-turned-politician are what is causing the problems in forming a governing coalition, and it is clear that Meretz will have to back down if it wants to be in the government.

Those are the political realities, and no amount of electoral reform can mask them.

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