Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Cheshvan 5766 - November 16, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
We Applaud the Restoration of Democratic Balance

Amir Peretz, head of the Histadrut, is now also head of the Labor Party. As a Moroccan and as an experienced champion of the working classes, Peretz breathes new hope into the Labor Party and sets it up as a genuine alternative to the rule of Sharon and the Likud, especially as it has been for the past few years under former Finance Minister Netanyahu. We welcome this development as important to Israeli democracy in ensuring that there will be a strong opposition party to the ruling power. In a democracy, the weak — for example the chareidim — always suffer when power is concentrated in one party.

Prime Minister Sharon has been running things as if he has no worries about his political future with the electorate. He was very happy to have Shimon Peres and the Labor party at his side, realizing that under Peres the Labor party basically follows Sharon's lead. There are no major differences at the ideological level between the Labor Party of Shimon Peres and the Likud of Sharon. Even though Peres got almost as many votes as Peretz from within Labor in the party elections, it was pretty clear to most outside observers that if Labor continued along the path that it was following under Peres, it could easily have declined into an irrelevant dotage along with its 82-year-old leader.

So far Sharon has allowed his former and current Finance Ministers to take from the weak and give to the rich under the premise that it is good for the overall economy. Sharon has repeatedly shown the capacity to act ruthlessly when he believes his approach to be the correct one. In the Disengagement as well as in his approach to the social needs of the people in Eretz Yisroel, Sharon has almost flaunted his lack of compassion and understanding for those who have to pay the costs.

Even if the Disengagement was in the eventual best interests of everyone in Israel, a leader with even a shred of a battered Jewish heart could not have done it in a way that caused so much suffering.

And even if all the world's economists say that starving the poor and fattening the rich is in the best interest of the Israeli economy in the long run, a leader with even a shred of a battered Jewish heart would have found a way that may have been less-than-best economically but would be far, far better morally.

The Shinui-Likud promised an economic and social revolution, and they delivered it. The pennies that have been restored since UTJ entered the government — almost every one after an individual effort — are nothing compared to the hundreds of millions that were previously cut from the bread and milk of the Torah community.

Even if Sharon does not understand compassion, he does understand politics — and how! If he had to worry that a credible opposition would be able to call him to task for this approach, we can presume that he would have acted with greater restraint. A party in power that had an active opposition that specializes in social issues would have no doubt kept the Treasury bureaucrats on a tighter leash. Once the Likud of Menachem Begin spoke for the down-and-out masses against the Mapai juggernaut. Now it seems that the gauntlet is being picked up by the Mapai successor: the current Labor party.

Although Amir Peretz will be a more effective opposition to Sharon and the Likud than the previous leadership, let no one think that we expect him to right the wrongs that were perpetrated against the chareidi community by the Sharon- Netanyahu-Lapid government. If the chareidi community does not have influential representatives of its own, no Israeli government will worry even about our most basic needs. We hope that the chareidi politicians prepare well for the elections that will be held no later than a year from now and, from all appearances, much sooner.

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