Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

26 Iyar 5766 - May 24, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Politica: Peretz' Problems

By E. Rauchberger

Defense Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz barely had a chance to settle into the armchair in his new office before troubles began — from without and from within.

Peretz probably imagined he was coming to the Defense Ministry to occupy a powerful, full-time position just like his predecessors, including domineering political heavyweights like David Ben Gurion, Levy Eshkol, Moshe Dayan, Yitzchak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Ezer Weizman, Moshe Arens, Ariel Sharon, Yitzchak Mordechai, Ehud Barak and Shaul Mofaz.

But Ehud Olmert has other plans in mind for him. He does not intend to let Peretz grow and flourish — in order to keep him from one day threatening his power. Olmert knows who's running the show, in the Defense Ministry as well. When he agreed to make Peretz Defense Minister what he really meant is that Olmert himself would be Defense Minister and Peretz would be at most Deputy Defense Minister, even if the placard on the door says otherwise.

When Peretz, upon entering office, boldly spoke about conducting negotiations with Abu Mazzen he got a swift tongue- lashing from the Prime Minister's Office. And when he announced plans to transfer NIS 50 million ($11 million) to the PA the Prime Minister's Office did not even let him raise the issue at the cabinet meeting.

Olmert would like Peretz to spend his time giving speeches, attending ceremonies and responding to questions and agenda proposals in the Knesset — but Peretz did not come to the Defense Ministry to serve as a figurehead.

Sharansky has a Few Things to Learn

Natan Sharansky (Likud) recently tabled a bill to make Sunday a day off, saying Friday is too short to pursue leisure activities because of Shabbos.

In a press statement Sharansky states two main reasons for the law: "First, to make the Israeli economy match the international economy, which does not work on Sunday anyway." Reasonable enough.

The problem is the second reason given. The proposal "is of tremendous social import for the continuation of religious and secular duality in Israeli society. Through this law the religious sector will be able to take part more actively in cultural and leisure life, which it has not been able to fully enjoy due to the sanctity of Shabbos. The religious sector would have a worthwhile day of rest without restrictions and would be a full partner in social life. The theaters, athletic events, nature excursions, etc. have all been in the hands of the secular public and this distortion should be rectified."

Sharansky, it should be recalled, has tabled various proposals to alter the religious status quo by opening entertainment spots on Shabbos, operating public transportation and limiting the prohibition against opening businesses on Shabbos.

Mr. Sharansky, before you propose bills of this sort you ought to take a course on the religious way of life in Israel.

The religious sector is careful to avoid all of these places you think they would go to on Sunday if they had the day off. We don't want to visit these places, not on Shabbos and not on a weekday or any other day.

Neither do we want to be a partner in any way in secular culture. Rather than drawing the obvious conclusions and changing secular culture through a return to more traditional, rooted ways, could someone be disillusioned enough to think he can drag the religious sector into the sewage pits that secular culture has created?

Mr. Sharansky, my dear sir, you come from the ranks of Soviet immigrants; not long ago you headed an immigrant party and you now occupy a spot designed to draw immigrant votes. Please heed one little piece of good advice: Rather than trying to legislate laws that undermine the Jewishness of the State of Israel and seek to change longstanding conventions, take care of a sector that is best known to you. They have enough problems of their own.

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