Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Elul 5765 - September 15, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Politica: Jobs vs. Ideology

By E. Rauchberger

A few years ago, Education Minister Livnat stood on the speaker's podium at the Likud Center (the central committee that governs many of the affairs of the Likud including the selection of the Knesset lists) and asked a rhetorical question: "Are jobs what you want?" "Yes," the members answered in unison. Indeed the Likud Center is known for its love of job handouts. Many Center members made extraordinary efforts to gain membership solely for the jobs and other benefits readily available to members.

Once upon a time, in the early days of the Likud Party— certainly in the Cherut Party under Menachem Begin, but in the Shamir era as well—the Likud Center was primarily an ideological group. The people who served there wanted to have an impact on national politics and were infused with a deep- seated Eretz Yisroel ideology. Today whoever hands out the most jobs gets the most support, regardless of his political views.

A veteran Likud Center member who heads a group of a few dozen members told me in no uncertain terms that 80 percent of the Likud Center elections to form the list for the next Knesset will be personal issues while 20 percent will be whether a candidate supported or opposed the Disengagement. In other words even if you voted in favor of the Disengagement, if you handed out good jobs or benefits or came to the simchoh of a certain Likud Center member and honored him in front of his guests — you're in good shape. "And forget about the polls," my inside source revealed. "That's all nonsense. Center members play around with the pollsters. We get a kick out of it."

The high-ranking Likud figure says that when an important question on national policy comes before the Likud Center, such as whether to support the founding of a Palestinian state, whether to support the evacuation of settlements or whether to form a government with left-wing parties such as Labor or Shinui, obviously the majority of members will assume right-wing positions in favor of Eretz Yisroel. But if there is a conflict between ideology or jobology, the latter generally takes precedence.

Prime Minister Sharon is well aware of this situation. Therefore his son Omri's primary task for the past few years has been to secure jobs and benefits for Center members and their relatives and friends.

In less than a week, the Likud Center will meet to decide whether to advance the party primaries — as Netanyahu and Landau, the challengers, would prefer — or to hold them ten months from now, as Sharon would prefer. It seemed like the vote would be against Sharon's wishes, but the Prime Minister realized that if he could turn the issue into a question of loss of jobs and control, he would have a chance of winning. Therefore his line of reasoning holds, "If you advance the primaries you will cause the Likud to fall from power, meaning fewer jobs."

Netanyahu picked up on the new rules of the game very quickly, and his supporters hurried to make clear that all Netanyahu wants is to replace Sharon as Likud chairman — without advancing Knesset elections.

Personal interest is of greater importance to the Likud Center members than all of Gush Katif, Judea and Samaria put together and in the end this is what will decide the political apparatus in the State of Israel, perhaps even for many years to come.

Barak for President

Next year, according to the Gregorian calendar, High Court President Judge Aharon Barak will turn 70, meaning he will be required by law to resign from the Court. A short time later, during the course of 2007, President Moshe Katzav is scheduled to end his term in office as well, since the law states that a president cannot serve more than one seven-year term.

Many people have their eyes set on the job of president, starting with Shimon Peres (who already tried once), if he is not elected prime minister, followed by Binyamin Ben Eliezer, Knesset Chairman Reuven Rivlin and David Levy.

Recently the name Aharon Barak has started to be tossed around by Left-wing figures, but considering the way the Likud has been run over the past year in the end they, too, could wind up adopting the Left's candidate.

The religious and chareidi public should be very wary of such a possibility. The religious political establishment is already counting down the days until Barak steps down from the bench. Not that his replacement will be any better in terms of his worldview and approach, but the damage Barak has done on religious and Jewish issues in recent years would be hard to equal.

The last thing we need is for Barak to take up residence at the President's House on Jerusalem's Jabotinsky Street. From there he would invariably try to continue to influence life in Israel and to finish what he started on the High Court.

The presidency has a major impact on the country's values, which is why the anti-religious left would like to get Barak into office and why religious and right-wing MKs must do their utmost to prevent this from taking place.

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