Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

28 Shevat 5761 - Febuary 21, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
It is Not Just Politics

Eighteen months ago as soon as the exit polls predicted the sizable victory of Ehud Barak and the Left, thousands and thousands of people streamed to Rabin Square in Tel Aviv to celebrate. Speakers and entertainers came. The show lasted for hours, climaxed by the appearance of Ehud Barak who proclaimed, "A new dawn has broken." He was greeted with persistent chants of: "Anyone but Shas."

Two weeks ago and just over 18 months later when the Right won, there was no celebration in Rabin Square or elsewhere, even though their candidate won the election by the largest margin ever in Israeli history. Nowhere were there any crowds chanting: "Anyone but Meretz," or the like. The mood remained calm and even the prime minister-elect gave a low- key speech stressing the need for unity and conciliation.

The differences between the two responses to victory are important.

Writing in the leftist newspaper Ha'aretz, journalist L. Galili also compared the two and did a little soul- searching. "The behavior of the two political camps after the elections tells us something about the nature of the differences between the Left and the Right. The first call from the Left after the elections of '99 was `Anyone but Shas,' while the first call that came from the Right after it won the election -- even the non-Parliamentary elements who have nothing to gain from unity -- is an apparently sincere call for unifying some of the diverse parties and entities that make up the Leftist camp. . . . they simply broadcast two different feelings. . . . If "anyone but Shas" implies a certain amount of hubris on the part of a very large camp, the different restrained reaction of the Right implies a large measure of humility. These two tendencies -- the hubris of the Left vs. the humility of the Right -- are permanent characteristics."

In fact the differences between the two sides are not really political in nature. There are political differences, but their source is much broader and deeper. Even the Left sees this, at least some of the time. Dr. Amnon Raz-Krutzkin, a radical Leftist who helped found the organization No More Colonialism, said: "With is, the Left is a cultural identification and not a political stand. It also includes a nauseating elitism vis-a-vis broad portions of Israeli society, and I very much hope that it will be thoroughly aired out. The elitism that led to the cries of `Anyone but Shas' is the same elitism with which the Left treats the Palestinians."

We would add that this elitism is applied as well to the chareidi community. The hubris of the Left is so clearly apparent whenever the discussion turns to any matter of shemiras mitzvos, of faith, of our tradition -- of anything Jewish.

The Left internally views it all as one package, though in public debates it often obscures it. However this is the reason that we usually find ourselves with the Right. Generally, the non-religious and even anti-religious people on the right do not share this broad and deep cultural alienation from Jewish tradition, and are not so determined to destroy it.

Obviously both are very far from the ideal that we anticipate in the geula sheleimoh.

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