Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

16 Kislev 5761 - December 13, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Reflections on Prime Minister Barak

After announcing less than a week ago that he wanted new general elections and then working the rest of the week to avoid them, Prime Minister Barak finally decided -- without consulting any of his ministers or senior politicians or advisors -- that he will resign and thereby cause new elections for prime minister but not for the entire Knesset.

Barak once again demonstrated his style: quick to change course, opportunistic, working on his own, and, most prominently of all, concerned about no one but himself.

Barak saw the weekend polls that showed even Ariel Sharon beating him (35 percent to 32 percent), and he knew that to have a chance to win, he must have elections soon. He heard the withering criticism of him from Chaim Ramon, a prominent member of his own party, and he could see that there is deep dissatisfaction with his performance within his own camp. He knows that he faces his most difficult challenge from former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu (leading with 46 percent to only 26 percent for Barak), and he decided that he must do all that he can to forestall Netanyahu's ability to run against him.

The government is paralyzed. There has not been an effective government in power since last summer. Certainly this has not been all bad since many of those formerly in power want nothing more than to destroy the Jewish religion, and the lack of a government has severely hampered their efforts in this direction. It is clear that one of their cherished dreams is to withhold all financial support from religious activities and to generally try to harass religious Jewry at every opportunity.

Recalling the advice of Maran HaRav Shach shlita about the direct election of Israeli prime ministers, one is struck by how accurately and fully his assessment was borne out. He was strongly opposed to this new system, arguing that the elected prime ministers would arrogantly try to govern on their own, without consulting the Knesset. This, he felt, would allow them to do all sorts of mischief based on their own convictions, without the retraining influence of the Knesset which is the only representative body of the State of Israel, and thus the only place that the chareidi community has some influence, based on its numbers.

Barak neither seeks not listens to advice, and he has made all the major decisions of his administration on his own, including the offer to the Palestinians to control parts of Yerushalayim.

It is amazing to remember that Ehud Barak was once Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, and in that capacity he surely made decisions that had life and death consequences. We can assume that the same problems that Barak is showing to the community at large also plagued him then. It does not inspire confidence in his decision making, to say the least.

Given Barak's incessant return to basic anti-religious policies and his attempts to use issues such as the yeshiva student draft legislation to coerce the religious parties into supporting him, we can only applaud the fact that elections will be held soon, and continue to pray and hope for someone less hostile to religious people and their way of life to be elected as the next prime minister.

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