Let us put the title of this posting aside for the moment. We are moving close to the formation of a new right wing government – which, quite to the contrary – will be cause for considerable thanksgiving.
Otzma Yehudit headed by Itamar Ben Gvir, the Religious Zionist Party headed by Bezalel Smotrich, and Noam, a one-seat breakaway from the Religious Zionists, headed by Avi Moaz, have all signed coalition agreements with Likud. Those agreements contain some very promising – indeed heartening — changes. In due course I will be writing about it all.
“Today we are taking another historic step to establish a Jewish, Zionist and national government,” said Smotrich (pictured here with Netanyahu after the signing).
The two haredi parties – Shas and United Torah Judaism – are still in negotiations as I write.
I look forward eagerly to the swearing in of the new government, may it come to fruition soon.
Many of you will recall the double terrorist bombing in Jerusalem on November 23, which wounded many and took the life of a yeshiva student, Aryeh Schupak.
One of the wounded – Tedsa Tashume Ben Ma’ada – was left in critical condition and succumbed four days later. Ben Ma’ada, 49, had emigrated from Ethiopia 21 years ago and leaves behind a wife and six children. He was a jewelry craftsman with Yvel Jewelers. (An interesting story for another day.)
Authorities have in custody several suspects connected with this double attack.
For this posting, I selected the title “Vile and Insufferable,” first, because that aptly describes the Jerusalem bombings.
But then because it applies to certain responses of the left and even center-left to the new government in formation: The incoming members of that government are being attacked in deplorable fashion.
While this is happening both internationally and nationally, I want to focus here on the national scene. It is important to refute the gross misrepresentations, sometimes akin to libel, which seem intended to cause panic. There is no good will, no conciliatory attitude, but rather a stirring of the political pot.
Thus I ask you to share this broadly.
I begin by noting that the incoming government was elected democratically, according to proper procedure. It behooves those who will be in the opposition to respect that democratic process, rather than suggesting there is something inherently illegitimate about a government because it diverges in considerable measure from their political perspective.
There is no reason to believe that “Israel as we knew her” is now gone. I would suggest quite the contrary: that Israel had been losing her moorings of late and will now be restored to what she was meant to be. And I will point out here that all of the reactions on the left are in response to what is presumed, or expected, to be the policies of the new government. Nothing has been enacted yet.
It is best to remember, as well, that there is no perfection in politics. What we need to look at is the direction of major policies.
Panic on the left is fueled in good part by the fact that a good number of the members of the incoming government are religious Jews with a particular set of concerns. But not all are religious. Netanyahu himself – who is about to become prime minister –is not an observant Jew, although he is knowledgeable. Nor are all the other members of the Likud, the largest party, observant. Not even all of the members of Ben Gvir’s party are traditionally religious, e.g., Brig. Gen. (Res.) Zvika Fogel. (Surprised?)
But panic there is, none the less. A sort of hysteria. No, there is not going to be a theocracy replacing the democracy. No, freedom of religion will not be abolished. There are Conservative (mostly the Israeli version, Masorati) and Reform synagogues in Israel and they will continue to serve their congregations.
Are there likely to be changes? Yes, there will be. The new government will promote changes consonant with the belief that Israel is meant to be a Jewish state. I would suggest that the aberration is the notion, which has been increasingly promoted of late, that Israel should be a “state of all its citizens.”(More on this below as on-going clarification is essential.)
One change is likely to be with regard to public education. Once upon a time the Tanach, the Hebrew Bible, was taught in all schools. Not as religion in the secular schools, but as the underpinning of our history and presence in the land. Ben Gurion, who could not have been remotely described as a religious man, was on intimate terms with the Tanach. It bound him to his vision of Israel.
Some years ago, when the left-wing here in Israel was in control of the education system, the teaching of Tanach was removed from the secular schools. It is time to return it, so that our young people might better understand who we are and how we are tied to this land.
Last week, Interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid outrageously called on municipalities not to cooperate with the new government, as I understand it, primarily with regard to educational issues. In doing this, he was promoting insurrection. MK Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionists), an attorney, has now pointed out that what Lapid did is illegal – a crime.
There is panic on the left with regard to LGBTQ issues in the public schools as well, and here Avi Moaz – who believes in supporting a traditional family configuration – is in their sites. No, it will not become illegal to adopt a transgender or homosexual life style. Amir Ohana, a key member of Likud, is gay, we should note, and expected to secure a major position. But it is likely that there will be no teaching about alternative life styles in the primary grades, and likely no official support for those struggling with gender issues.
Where MK Ben Gvir is concerned, the most frequent charge is “racism.” It matters not how often he explains his position, the charge sticks. And perhaps here we come to the heart of the matter.
In point of fact, Ben Gvir is not anti-Arab. He supports the right of Arab citizens who are loyal to the State to remain in Israel and enjoy the full protection of the State. (This includes his position that more must be done by police to reduce the plague of Arab upon Arab violence.)
His issue is with those who support terrorism, whom he believes should be deported, and those who are opposed to/seek to undermine Zionist principles. He believes in the primacy of a Jewish State. This is where he parts company with those who believe in a “state of all its citizens.”
An instructive contrast: Former prime minister Naftali Bennett recently wrote an op-ed in which he praised Mansour Abbas, head of Ra’am, the political arm of the southern branch of the Islamic Movement of Israel, which is anti-Zionist. Inclusion of Ra’am made it possible for Bennett and Lapid jointly to form a coalition. Ben Gvir and his associates would not do this because they believe in Zionist principles and seek a government comprised of those who also do.
The joke here is that Mansour Abbas has declared the incoming government to be “…from the right to the extreme right, and even a fascist and racist right.” It all depends on where you stand, doesn’t it?
As part of his concern with Israel as a Jewish State, it is anticipated that Ben Gvir will promote a change in the rules regarding the Jewish presence on Har Habayit (the Temple Mount), commonly referred to as the status quo. It is a farce, of course, as the “status quo,” which means the agreement established in 1967 between Moshe Dayan and the Islamic Wakf, has been subverted several times by the Muslims, always at a disadvantage to Jews.
The Temple Mount is within sovereign Israel. Why should it be that Muslims can enter at any time via several gates and pray, while Jews are limited to one gate, for four hours a day, and forbidden public prayer? It is when we have a government that believes in Israel as a Jewish State and promotes Jewish rights that this question will be asked with seriousness.
Another instructive contrast: Outgoing Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev of the left-wing Labor Party, has warned that a change in the status quo could bring a new intifada. That is leftist, progressive thinking: keep things quiet even at a cost to legitimate Jewish rights. The new government will have a different approach.
Ben Gvir has gained considerable popularity of late because of his insistence on tough positions with regard to terrorists and trouble makers. Though he is accused of being a radical for taking the positions he does, he is not: He is actually reflecting the attitude of the majority of Israeli Jews, who are in favor of tougher handling of terrorists. Some 71% is in favor of executing terrorists convicted of killing an Israeli.
Let us consider very briefly some of what we have been dealing with. It provides perspective with regard to the strong feeling that a change is past due:
 The tip of the iceberg: Abbas al-Sayed, a senior terrorist from Hamas’ Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, is serving 35 life sentences and another 50 years cumulatively in an Israeli prison for his involvement in the suicide attack at the Park Hotel in Netanya in 2002, in which 30 people were murdered while celebrating a Passover seder. He recently completed a master’s degree in cryptocurrency.
We are far too generous with perks for vile murderers. It’s in line with quelling unrest and too often leads to questions about exactly who is in charge.
 Bedouin run protection rackets in the Negev and every business pays. The Bedouin run riot and the law is not enforced. Meir Deutsch, CEO of Regavim describes the crisis: “the phenomena of crime and protectionism, polygamy, poverty and alienation from the state. A brief glance is enough to turn your stomach…” It’s time to take back the Negev before it’s too late.
 The IDF reports that terrorism has increased by 300% in 2022.
What I have provided here is merely an overview, albeit an important one. There is a great deal more to consider: protecting our rights in Judea & Samaria; reforming the judicial system, possible changes in the Law of Return.
Recently Lapid “apologized” to Ben Gurion, ostensibly because the Israel he helped bring into being is about to be destroyed by the new government.
Yair Lapid has shown himself to be a very foolish man. Apparently he is not familiar with our Declaration of Independence, which reads in part (emphasis added):
“This recognition by the United Nations of the right of the Jewish people to establish their independent state may not be revoked. It is, moreover, the self-evident right of the Jewish people to be a nation, as all other nations, in its own sovereign state.
“Accordingly we, the members of National Council, representing the Jewish people in Palestine and the Zionist movement of the world, met together in solemn assembly by virtue of the natural and historic right of Jewish people and of resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations:
“Hereby proclaim the establishment of the Jewish state in Palestine, to be called Israel.”
Jewish, Yair. A Jewish state.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.