Tuesday, December 20, 2005

israeli politics

The big question in Israel for the next few months is who to vote for. This is not at all similar to the same question in the US, where you have 40% conservatives who always vote Republican and 40% liberals who always vote Democrat and then 20 percent of the population are swing voters. They tend to vote for the person who they like personally, irrelevant of the actual issues.

In Israel it does not work that way. The platforms of the political parties in general do not represent a broad spectrum of policy, but rather they focus on an issue and everything else is ignored. For example, the Likud is known as a right-center party. I believe that specifically means they are anti giving land to the Palestinians, but not so much. How do they feel about abortion? It's probably split. How do they feel about social programs? also split. Difference between big government and privatization? Most of them don't know what that means.

How are these people supposed to agree on a budget if they don't agree on any issues? What happens is the head of the party decides how he wants to vote on these issues and if it's considered important he imposes party discipline making everyone in the party vote his way.

Shinui, on the other hand, is anti-religious. That is their platform. They officially have no policy on disengagement, or government or anything else, except that they don't want to be told whether they can eat pig while driving on shabbat or not.

Labor looks like it is shaping up more as a replacement for meretz as a true social-democratic party, where they are interested in creating a bigger welfare state then already exists. Except if you hear the voices coming out of the party, it is Peretz, the new leader, who is advocating this and no one else is really sure what to make of it.

Shas's platform is black people are cool, and give us money for our own school system. And you're all a bunch of racist bastards, and we need more money for our schools.

There is no party that I like in Israeli politics, I don't think they focus on issues at all and even when they do it is generally a one person opinion, not a party platform.

With this vacuum in who to vote for, degel HaTorah, whose sole purpose in the government is to strengthen Torah institutions, is looking more plausable. Since there is no viable party to vote for, why not vote to strengthen Torah Judaism.

A vote for degel haTorah is a vote against Shinui.
A vote for degel haTorah is a vote against Labor.
A vote for degel haTorah is sending a message to the NRP
that they're a bunch of hypocritical dogs.

I don't know who I'm going to vote for yet, but I'm leaning heavily in this direction.


traintalk said...

The best thing that happened to Judaism here was the Hitnatkoot. People have become more interested the less the national religious are political. Actually the best thing for Israeli politics would be total disinterest, like less than 50% turnout. Its about as relevant as television tax.

Critically Observant Jew said...

I wouldn't paint Degel haTorah as white as you did - they would also sell almost anything for tuition to yeshivot, child support payments, and army exemption (read: will vote for eviction of Jews of not their head-covering color, will give away any portion of land but the places they live in). How about Marzel's party?

rockofgalilee said...

Marzel is also a one issue party. He is anti-disengagement. He has no other platform.

If I'm going to vote for a 1 issue party. I'd prefer it to be giving money to the yeshivas.

I am politically against giving back settlements, but with all due respect to Rav Aviner and Rav Shapira, I don't come from their yeshiva world.

Whether it is halachically forbidden for the modern state of Israel to cede land or not is not an issue that is based on my personal political preference.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Rock: The problem is that a vote for Degel is a vote for Hypocrisy.

The problem with Degel is that although the vast majority of their constituents are right leaning, and their own Gedolim are right leaning, they totally sacrifice their own values to retain their position in the government -- and continue receving money for yeshivot.

If the yeshiva world would stop being so adamant against people learning a trade to support themselves (after yeshiva) and let those who don't want to be in yeshiva, go to the IDF (Nachal HaChareidi), then the yeshiva world wouldn't need to kowtow to the government for funds.

This is probably the biggest problem facing the Degel/Aguda world today in Israel -- they are becoming poorer and poorer, and will need to be more and more dependant on the government for funding.

When push comes to shove, Degel and Aguda will vote however the government wants them to, regardless whatever/whoever gets squashed in the process.

The problem in general is that Israeli politics are life and death. Government Policy dictates IDF security on the ground, which determines who will live and who won't. Will there be security concessions to the PA, will roadblocks be removed, will your house get destroyed? All of these issues are very real and very serious.

Makes USA politics seem like child's play.

Olah Chadasha said...

Hey, that's the parliamentary system for ya.

rockofgalilee said...


the difference is that the decisions made by degel, unlike those of any other party, are made by a rabbinical leadership and are based on Torah concepts, whether you, in your capacity as a Torah Scholar, agree with Rav Elyashiv or not.

I am not personally comfortable with the idea of "Give me Yavne and her wisdom," but at the same time it would often be more comfortable sitting at a non-kosher restaurant and ignoring the rabbinical laws of maarit ayin. When my kids turn on their bedroom light on shabbat, it would be very comfortable to turn it off, it is "only a dirabonim." The rabbis don't care about my personal opinion, as well they shouldn't.

All of the other parties are very happy to present rabbis who agree with their position but are very quick to announce that rabbis do not belong in politics when their opinions are not inline.

Look at the National Religious party, for example. When their rabbinical leadership said it is forbidden to stay in the government, they scoffed.

On the other hand, look at how many people started bad-mouthing Rav Aviner when he said soldiers must obey orders. There is no respect for Torah in any other party.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Rock: I don't disagree with you on the Mafdal at all.

However, I think that even Rav Elyashiv is controlled to some extent by the machers which spoon feed him information and political advice.

Do you think that if for some miraculous reason the Chardei community would have endless cash resources that they would bother sitting in the government? (or agreeing to support the Hitnatkut?)

Robyn said...

why is "white" torah better than "black" torah again? I got a little lost in your explanation of how Degel is better than Shas/votes for Degel are not covered under votes for Shas... (not, mind you, that i'm arguing for either but... )

rockofgalilee said...


The whole goal of the chareidi secor entering politics was because they would not receive a penny of funding without it. None of the socialistic parties, whose goal is to suck money out of the government, feel that they deserve anything.

Therefore, they are not a political entity in the government, but rather a fundraising entity. (Whether it is "magea lahem" is a different issue).

rockofgalilee said...


i don't think white torah is better then black torah, but their platform is "sefardim are people too," not "vote for Torah."

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Rock: The chareidi parties may have joined as a fundraising entity, but they inherently are political whether they like it or not (since they're supporitng the government's policies).

In the beginning of the State's history, they religious/chareidi parties were actually politcial in nature and not financial fund raising entities.

It's been downhill ever since.

rockofgalilee said...


I don't know that they do have to be political. They can, and as far as I reckon they have, adopt a policy that they will support any government policy that is not against the Torah, as defined by their rabbonim, as long as it will further their cause (get them funding).

The government wants to allow selling chametz on Pesach, I don't think they would vote for that. The government wants to build settlements, doesn't bother them. The government wants to remove settlements, also doesn't bother them. The government wants to change the national speed limit, same thing. As long as they feel that it is a political/diplomatic issue, then they are very happy supporting the government and furthering their cause.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...


1. The settlement issue did bother them.

2. Chametz on pessach doesn't really bother them.

3. ELAL flying on shabbat...doesnt really bother them.

I guess that issues which used to bother them enough to make a big deal out of have lost their importance in light of the ultimate goal - getting as much money as they can out of the system. Plus, they aren't as important politically to the government as they used to be for coaltion forming.

Its unfortunate that they've gone back to living in a Europe-style of dealing with the "goyim".

rockofgalilee said...

Now I have a topic for today's post.

Robyn said...

The reason shas's platform is what it is includes that the Torah your voting for in Degel Hatorah doesn't have a place for people whose names don't sound properly white... I have an issue with that sort of torah. More than that I have an issue with any sort of torah is for... so who cares about... the answer to the first blank should be jews, the answer to the second shouldn't be. I admit I'm still waiting for this party platform.

rockofgalilee said...

while shas actually does have a platform and they are political, there is one reason why I won't vote for them.
They are a racist party. And apparantly not my race.
Personally, I don't see race as an issue in Judaism. I, probably because I came from midwest America where all Jews were Jews, see sefardim and ashkenazim in the same light.
However, I accept the reality that in Israel there is a big divide. If you vote for the sefardic party it will be like the Christian Arabs who rode out to fight the infidels with the crusaders and got slaughtered, because they looked like the infidel.

Robyn said...

I'm not arguing that you should vote for shas, I do wonder why shas is defined as more racist than DhT, unless your saying that DhT's racism is ok because it is your race...

rockofgalilee said...

one difference between ashkenazic racism and sefardi racism is that the ashkenazim don't make it an issue. The DHT platform is not "Ashkenaz Forever," though they may behave that way.
Also, if you have a choice of 2 racist groups, I say join the group that is colored most like you because if you join the other grouop and they win, you will either be considered the "token race guy" or be thrown away all together once your purpose is fulfilled.