Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

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








Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment

by E. Rauchberger

Barak and the Arab Vote

Barak has made clear signs that although he has unequivocally supported direct prime ministerial elections for years, he is now beginning to lean in favor of doing away with them. Barak used to say that without direct elections he would have had no chance of being elected prime minister, since voters would have voted according to party lines as in the past, resulting in the traditional tie in the Knesset with a slight tilt to the right, which would have given the office of prime minister to Binyamin Netanyahu.

Now something has changed: this something is the Arab vote. If, in the previous elections, the Arabs supported him by a tremendous majority of 96%, thereby allowing him to reach an overwhelming overall majority of 56%, this time the signs indicate that the rules of the game in the Arab sector will be entirely different. The Arabs will not all vote for Barak and he cannot win without them.

In the new political situation, therefore, the old system could be a lot better for the Prime Minister. If and when, after elections as in the past, they are asked to make their recommendation to the President of their candidate to head the government, the Arab MKs will certainly not recommend Netanyahu or any other Likud figure, but almost certainly will choose Barak, depending, of course, on what they receive in return.

Labor activists working hardest to repeal the Direct Elections Law are among Barak's closest associates: Minister Daliya Itzik, coalition chairman Ofir Pinnes, and above all Shiri Weizman, the man who doesn't get out of bed in the morning without receiving permission from Barak first. Their activities are proof that everything is carried out with the knowledge and quiet support of Ehud Barak.

In the Likud, which way the party will vote has yet to be decided. Those close to Netanyahu say that for precisely the same reason that Barak believes that a repeal of the present system will help him, Netanyahu would be well advised to support the present system; without Arab votes his chances of victory on election day would increase significantly since his majority in the Jewish sector is clear. Current party leader Ariel Sharon however, is one of the most prominent supporters of a return to the previous system.

Boundless Hatred

The mind of Shinui MKs, filled to the brim with anti- religious hostility, does not rest for a moment. They wrack their brains for any idea to harm the chareidi public, and the more damage the initiatives cause, the better they are -- from their perspective. True enmity that knows no bounds.

One month ago, in a final reading, the Knesset plenum passed a bill by Rabbi Shmuel Halpert (UTJ) according to which child stipends would be significantly increased starting with the fifth child. The bill, which really only restores some of the value of the stipends that has been eaten away by inflation, is supposed to go into effect in 2001.

But this law is a thorn in the side of Shinui activists. They view the chareidi public through glasses tinted with hostility, and it makes no difference whatsoever that tens and hundreds of thousands of other people, residents of development towns and neighborhoods in distress, will also benefit from the law. The moment the chareidi public has a chance of benefiting, the law is bound to be the object of fierce opposition from Shinui. Come what may.

Right after the bill was approved, Shinui MK's launched a barrage against the chareidi public, and issued a call to repeal the law. This week Shinui showed that it was not enough for them to try to repeal the law; they sought other ways to strike at the chareidi public. The entire corps of Shinui MKs tabled a bill aimed at preventing the Interior Minister and the Local Authorities Minister from granting reductions on municipal taxes for families blessed with many children. According to Shinui's proposal, the number of people in one home would not be a cause or a requirement for granting a reduction on municipal taxes, neither as a condition in and of itself, nor in combination with other requirements.

In their explication of the law, Shinui MK's make no effort to conceal their goal or their impetus, writing, "An amendment recently instituted into the Natural Insurance Law significantly increases child stipends for the fifth child, the sixth child, etc. In light of this law, it would be inappropriate to grant further reductions on municipal taxes based on the number of family members living in a given residence, and therefore it has been proposed that the Minister of the Interior not be allowed to allot reductions based on this requirement."

In other words, after an auspicious step was finally taken to assist families blessed with many children, Shinui MKs come charging back in an effort to impose punishment on them. This is a disgrace. It is simply a disgrace that in the State of Israel such members sit in the national parliament, when their activities and behavior fit better with various dark periods and regimes from the past.

Different Hats

At the initiative of Rabbi Shmuel Halpert, the Knesset Committee for Immigration and Absorption is discussing the plague of non-Jewish immigration to Israel. Since the wave of immigration from the former Soviet Union began, there have been large numbers of non-Jews among those arriving, but recently the numbers have increased dramatically and have reached alarming proportions.

Michael Melchior, Minister of Diaspora Affairs, stated before the committee that 60% of these immigrants are not Jews. Representatives from the Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur headed by HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth maintain that the numbers are much higher, up to 85%-90%. In any case, even the figure of 60% is clearly troubling and intolerable for any nation that wants to survive without losing its identity within a few years.

And what is the solution? A very simple one, seemingly. To stop the continued immigration of non-Jews to Israel through every possible means. Simply to close the gates, and if necessary, a legislative amendment--as soon as possible. As for those who have already arrived, everything should be done (short of harming them) to make their lives here difficult until they leave of their own volition; and those who don't leave should definitely not be given the same rights as other citizens.

But what is obvious to any sensible person is not necessarily obvious to Melchior. He had another solution for the problem, and he even presented it to the committee members. "Steps have already been taken to include the Jewish Agency in bringing the immigrants now in Israel closer to Judaism and to reinforce their desire to convert."

Instead of taking care of the root of the problem, people want to patch up problems. Instead of doing everything possible to place obstacles before those who have already arrived, and to prevent further aliyah of non-Jews, they are trying to transform them into Jews through fictitious means which have no place in halacha.

Recently a delegation from the Vaad met with Minister Melchior and asked him that since he considers himself an Orthodox rabbi, how can he justify his plan based on fictitious conversions which are obviously against halacha.

"I wear two hats," Minister Melchior answered. "As a rabbi I only advocate proper conversion which will guarantee complete Torah observance from the convert. However as a politician I don my MK hat and advocate what is in the national interest of the country."

All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.