Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

9 Kislev 5761 - December 6, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
The Usher of Disunity

by P. Chovav

There are some words whose mere mention warms every Jewish heart. One of the them is the word achdus (unity). It is the antithesis of hatred and competition, divisiveness and mudslinging. It symbolizes an ideal situation of cooperation, equality, trust and mutual understanding. Do we need any more than that in these terrible days?

However, when achdus falls into the hands of the politicians, a red light immediately begins flashing and the suspicion arises that the mention of this word by politicians was meant only for petty political needs. This is not so much because of the nature of the rank and file politician, but rather because politics, by nature, is the total opposite of achdus. What is politics, if it isn't hatred, rivalry, divisiveness and mudslinging? Where else but in the political system does a lack of trust and bitter, uncompromising strife exist?

The call to national unity that has been issued in recent days in the Israeli political system by top ranking members of the Labor Party might have on the surface created a rather trustworthy impression. After all, it has been accompanied by good and strong claims such as the futility of conducting election propaganda when every day Jews are being wounded, lo oleinu in the initfada.

As the chairman of the Labor Party, MK Ofir Pines aptly said: "Is it appropriate to deal in election propaganda which is purely mudslinging and the denigration of one's fellow, at a time when Palestinians are firing on houses in Gilo?"

These logical and just claims, on the surface, may arouse the suspicion, albeit even the slightest of the slightest, that such calls for unity stem from a genuine desire to raise the political system in Israel to new heights. Perhaps they truly hope that they can bring together all of the disparate forces on the Israeli political scene in order to grapple most effectively with the Palestinian threat.

Maybe at last the impotence in the face of the threats has led the politicians to wake up from their illusions, and to understand that it is time to eliminate the rivalry and to band together around those ideals which unite Jews everywhere. Perhaps a new era is dawning in which the political system will begin to re-examine its ideals and approach.

However, all of these nice words aren't worth the paper they're printed on. Why? Because none other than MK Tommy Lapid is the usher who will lead the achdus campaign.

It is ironic indeed that such an unpleasant creature, who is the utter symbol of hatred, bickering and animosity, was the one who coordinated the achdus efforts. This constitutes the best proof that it is not achdus that interests them, and that all their talk merely signifies the desperate attempt of a small politician to cash in on the current state of emergency.

There is no better example of two antithetical ideas than "hate-ridden Lapid" and achdus. Israeli politics have already gone through many incarnations, and have scored many "achievements" in the maneuvering ability of its members.

The cynicism which prevails in the political system in Israel, has been well-known for a long time. But the rallying of the Shinui movement around the banner of achdus is record breaking.

The avowed aim of this party, unlike other parties which are also involved in the persecution of religon, is to stop the chareidim. Since Shinui entered the political arena, various elements in the political system and the media have over and over again said that its anti-chareidi platform is reminiscent of Nazi propaganda. Shinui's antipathy for anything with an authentic Jewish flavor arouses the revulsion of many non-religious Holocaust survivors. Shinui members' crass and brutal expressions against chareidi Jews have reached heights (or depths) that until now have been unkown even in the Israel political system.

When precisely these chronic fight-pickers bat their self- righteous eyes in the public battle for the sake of achdus, there is no longer a need for any explanation regarding what must be done to prevent the advent of the achdus they seek to achieve.

It is possible to understand the personal distress of Ehud Barak, and even to understand the political considerations which guide Ariel Sharon. But in no way at all is it possible to understand collaboration with a political activist whose natural place is in the current Austrian parliament.

The very act of holding discussions constitutes a major achievement for him. It presents Shinui as a legitimate element, and this should be prevented at all costs.

One doesn't have to be a big politician in order to understand that what is motivating Lapid and his party is not the aspiration for unity but the longing for the legitimization they so lack. Even if it has a not so negligible number of MKs, Shinui is still considered a fly- by-night party, which isn't worth a thing, and does nothing but spew hatred and strife.

Meretz also underwent a similar process. Who doesn't recall how only a few years ago, Meretz was still considered a political body outside of the consensus? The "values" it represented blocked all of its chances of joining any sort of coaltion. The Labor party of those days understood that it is forbidden to give a party with "values of freedom and culture" like those of Meretz any sort of governmental authority.

For that reason, Meretz occupied the benches of the oppositon on a permanent basis. But then a certain type of political pattern was formed (now is not the place to expand on this point), which helped Meretz to break through the barrier of legitimacy which had until then barred it, and even to gain control of the Education and Justice Ministries.

Lapid wants to undergo such a process too, by means of the cynical rallying around the banner of achdus. His efforts to achieve unity are meant to pave a path for his receipt of legitimacy. If the idea to establish a unity government failed so that Lapid's detestable image would remain unaltered, then dayeinu.

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