Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The Need to Strive for Unity

The elections are over and Binyamin Netanyahu is left with the formidable challenge of forming a stable coalition. This is a nerve wracking process, not only for the haggling politicians but also for the public who helplessly watch it unfold. In Israeli political discourse, the Russian variant of the word "coalition" is used: ko-a-litz-i-ah. Yitzchak Rabin used to call it go-a-litz-i-ah, a play on the Hebrew word for "disgusting". For once, I agree with Mr. Rabin.

As the stomach turns: Netanyahu could, in theory, ignore Yesh Atid's 19 mandates and form a narrow coalition of 61 MKs: 31 from Likud-Beiteinu, 12 from HaBayit HaYehudi, 11 from Shas and 7 from Yahadut HaTorah. However, such a coalition would likely be quite unstable, as it would only take 2 disgruntled MKs to take the government down. Therefore, Bibi is going to great lengths to please Ya'ir Lapid and his cohorts. Lapid better watch his step! For if Yesh Atid continues to grandstand, Bibi could very well leave them out of the coalition at the beginning. In such an event, wallowing in the opposition may very well cause the Yesh Atid party to disintegrate, with some of them forming a faction that will run on all fours in order to join the government.

With the expected change in the status quo regarding religion and state, one would expect that the religious parties would find a way to cooperate. Unfortunately, the distrust among them is very, very deep. In addition to this deep distrust is an equally deep enmity, fed by mutual disrespect. Everybody thinks that their way of life is the way of life, that their rabbis are the rabbis, and that anyone else just does not make the grade. The situation brings to mind the words of the Netziv, in his introduction to the book of Genesis:

Because of the groundless hatred in their hearts, they suspected anyone with a different religious practice of being a Sadducee or heretic. Due to this, they came to extreme bloodshed and to other evils until the Temple was destroyed. Regarding this came the justification of the divine judgment, because the Holy One, blessed be He, is a yashar, and He cannot tolerate righteous people like this unless they also function with decency in their dealings with the world.

The religious parties are now faced with a great task: to strive for unity! This unity must not be a unity of "lets grit our teeth and bear them". It must be a unity of mutual respect, founded on humbleness and the ability to see beyond one's own shteeble.

HaBayit HaYehudi went a long way on the road to unity before the elections, and it payed off in the polling booth. Now they, along with Shas and Yahadut HaTorah, must bury the hatchet, and find the way to sanctify God's name in the public sphere. The public will not forgive them if they fail.


yaak said...

Nice post.

I'd like to add that not only did Bayit Yehudi go a long way on the road to unity before the elections, but the same happened in Shas and UTJ as well. Shas did so with Aryeh Deri and Eli Yishai burying the hatchet with each other. UTJ did so with the Netzah party disbanding and unifying under UTJ.

I'd also like to add that there are promising signs - in a number of articles that were posted in recent days - that there may be unity between BY, Shas, and UTJ after all. One can only hope that the talks between the various groups lead to unity. If that happens, Ya'ir Lapid will be responsible for great Ahdut - but not in the way he expected.

Dov Bar-Leib said...

Over time Yeish Atid will have to be included in this Achdut, but negotiations with the secular world will likely take months if not a full year to hammer out the details. This period of time is far greater than the 6-8 weeks required to form a Coalition. So first the internal Unity between Bayit Yehudi and the Chareidim must precede negotiating with Lapid. Together, the religious parties are really all Beit Yehudah (Bayit Yehudi) and the secular parties that are not part of the Erev Rav are all Beit Ephraim or Beit Yisrael. Even the name of one of the parties that was just absorbed by Likud is Yisrael Beiteinu. In the hands of Ben David the stick of Yehudah is brought together with the stick of Ephraim who represents Yisrael. This will exclude the Erev Rav parties of Kadima, Tzippy, Labor, Meretz and Chadash. Each of those represents one of the five soul roots of the Erev Rav. Those five will wither and die. But watch how over the next three years, the inner core comes together. And yes, it will include Ya'ir Lapid.

Cosmic X said...


Good point. Both Shas and UTJ are to definitely to be commended for reaching internal unity before the elections. Once again, the results are telling: Shas managed to get 11 seats in spite of Am Shalem and Koach Lehashpia. UTJ went up to seven seats, something that has been long expected due to the growth of the Hareidi community.

Dov Bar-Leib,

Interesting, however I was taught by my rabbis to be very careful before applying the term "Erev Rav" to anybody.

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