Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Post-Election: Nothing

I've spent a week trying to make sense of what happened in last Tuesday's elections. Objectively, I subscribe to what Ben Chorin had to say on the subject (since he's my expert in these matters). I am, however, grappling with the deeper significance both of the elections and the subsequent behavior of the various parties.

1) Livni and Lieberman have provided further proof of the adage of my much revered, and sorely missed, rabbinic mentor, Rabbi Louis Bernstein ז"ל. Louie, who certainly knew his way around Israeli and American politics, used to say that Israeli politicians have the morals of alleycats. The country be damned, as long as they get their ego and drives fueled, who cares what the people say or the country needs. It needs, it would appear, whatever the media and the pundits say it needs.(Ironically, the only one to prima facie take his defeat like a man was Ehud Barak.)

2) The phenomenon of Avigdor Lieberman puzzles me.

On the one hand, I understand why people voted for him. They want a 'tough guy' to stand up to the Arabs. They are sick and scared of the open sedition and irredentism of an ever growing proportion Israeli Arabs, and the growing awareness that key elements thereof really are a fifth column within the country. (These guys don't get it.)

Furthermore, I really sympathize with the impossible situation of non-Jewish Russian 'Jews' who can't get married and can't reasonably convert because of the obstructionism and impossibly high standards of key elements within the rabbinate. Thus, Lieberman's popularity based upon his advocacy of a form of narrowly conceived civil union is eminently understandable. [I am afraid that the courts will throw out any legislated restrictions on these and would open the door for widespread intermarriage. The leftist, post-Jewish courts and 'intelligentsia' would inevitably applaud such a suicidal step. I plan to address this issue in a separate posting.]

What I can't figure out is whether Lieberman is a democrat, or really is out to set himself up as a government strong man. IOW, part of me understands his agenda. Part of me is afraid of his success.

3) One thing that I've learned is to listen to my children, who grew up here. Nothing, they assure me, will happen if Livni becomes Prime Minister, or if Bibi is forced into a rotation agreement. No self-respecting Arab will make a deal with a Leftist. He will know that it's not worth the paper it's written on. If Netanyahu, though, breaks under pressure then things will get hairy.

Food for thought.


Y. Ben-David said...

I agree with your children. I voted National Union mainly for the world to see that there are still "hard-line Eretz Israel" Jews out there. Otherwise I am indifferent to what sort of coalition is formed or who is Prime Minister....so long as there is NOT a "narrow right-wing gov't". Not that I would in theory object to it, but such a government would be endlessly harassed by the media, stomped on by Hussein Obama and Peres would come to the fore demanding to interfere in government decisions. If we really had top-notch leaders, they would know how to overcome such problems, but Netanyahu doesn't have these qualities. He claims he "learned", but we see from the zig-zags he pulled in the election campaign (first appealing to the Left by putting Meridor, Miri Regev, Peled, Meridor, Dayan and Hefetz on the list in addition to demoting Feiglin, then panicking when Lieberman got stronger and then shifting to the Right by promising not to dismantle settlements) that he doesn't have a strong character. Thus, the best we "Eretz Israel" people can hope for is a confused, divided, ineffectual government that is too weak to carry out the unilateral withdrawals and destruction of yishuvim that Hussein Obama is probably going to try to foist on us. Sure, Israel needs a strong government to deal with its manifold problems, but the only things "strong governments" like those of Begin and Sharon did was destroy things, while leaving important reforms such as changing the procedure for picking Supreme Court Justices undone. This is the reality of the situation. Until the Israeli public really begins to understand democracy, something that is not the case now (particularly in the National Religious camp which still exhibits a sick worship of the state apparatus, which is a distortion of Rav Kook's philosophy) the most we can hope for is to hold on to what we currently have.

Anonymous said...

Your post infers that Lieberman's following is made up primarily of anti-religious and/or diaffected Russians. This sadly is not the case although for sure 8-10 mandates account for this constituency. What I fail to understand is the many national religious voters who voted for Lieberman. 3-4 mandates perhaps. The guy makes Olmert look like Mother Theresa or in your loshon a neutered alleycat. Without wishing to sound racist, are we not showing the height of arrogance assuming that Lieberman thinks in Western terms? He is a Russian and his mindset is in the Cold War USSR.

Peres will call on Livni to form the next Government (I write this at 15.00 on Wednesday so Peres has yet to begin his meetings). Bibi will be relieved and become the finance minister as his ego tells him that he can sort things out this time as well. He is more likely to be wrong this time. Livni will be hopeless and the emperors new clothes will soon be discovered for what they are. Lieberman and Shas will sit together. Shas understands that it cannot stay out of power.

Now Jeffrey is the time to get the Likud to educate people that only by voting for the large parties is there any chance for some semblance of stability. It is high time that an official national religious group was set up in the Likud with 3-4 guaranteed places on the list. This will get rid of the embarrasment that is the Bayit Yehudi who should be made homeless immediately. The National Union can do what they want. They do anyway.

Bottom line, "ein lanu al mi lehishaen elah al avinu shebashamayim"

Anonymous said...

OK, I was proved wrong regarding Peres appointing Livni. Obviously even he could not swim against the tide.

I have no idea if Livni will remain in opposition or not but I have a question for you and your readers; Do you think that being in opposition will weaken or strengthen Livni. Clearly, if Bibi makes a total shambles of governing, then she will be swept to power but how about Bibi trying to do a decent job and being clearly undermined by Katzeleh. Could this not ultimately reinforce Bibi's wish to make a large centre right party?

Yaeli said...

Here's the problem I see with our current marriage laws and why civil marriage needs to be enacted not for the non-Jews, or for intermarriages, but for us halachically kosher Jews who are secular.

The Rabbinate is forcing secular Jews and even the semi-observant (we're talking about approximately 80% of the Jewish population here) to base their marriages on a stack of lies. People are actually forced to lie in order to marry and the Rabbinate is requiring and sanctioning it. Women must attend the pre-marriage course and lie and say that they will do not only things that they will never do but whose husbands would divorce them if they attempted to do.

They are forced to go through rituals they at best simply don't want and at worst scorn or find laughable and these very rituals are supposed to be a holy base upon which to rest their marriage. Rather than the preparations and ceremony being a source of joy, it becomes one of frustration and resentment. It seems a far better solution to allow people to marry based on rituals and assurances that they actually mean and hold dear, rather than going through steps that do not have meaning for them and many of which they have no intention of carrying out. That does not seem to set a very good base for the marriage itself --if one must lie in order to marry, does that not seem to give an unspoken ok to lie once one is married?

Y. Ben-David said...

Tzippi would not benefit from being in the opposition, but Labor and MERETZ would, especially if they got new leadership. Kadima is proud of the fact that they have no ideology, as Shitritt pointed out, and considering most Kadima people are ex-Likudniks, they really don't have an ideological base to claim to oppose Netanyahu. Tzippi is a complete non-entity, a person of no character, a deceitful political chameeleon that only got to be head of Kadima by means of ballot-box stuffing, and I am willing to bet that she will never be Prime Minister. She can go around ranting that "Bibi is not giving up enough for peace", but her gov't didn't get peace either,so I don't see how she can morally challenge a Netanyahu gov't.

Anonymous said...

Yaeli, I can only sympathize with your well articulated views and apologize for the fact that the Rabbinate was hijacked by the Charedim and that the National Religious Party R.I.P. never made the Rabbinate the institution that would further Modern Orthodoxy in the State of Israel however, what you have now said makes me understand why Harav Eliyashiv refuses to allow even non-jews to marry in Israel.