Politics, prejudice and platforms - the Otzma Yehudit debate

To my fellow and sister American Jews,  individual religious leaders and organizations, I express utter dismay with your  interference in the Israeli political process.

Lila Lowell, | updated: 07:45

Lila Lowell
Lila Lowell
צילום:

As the Israeli elections grow closer, there are concerted efforts afoot, to impede, obstruct or obliterate some of the competing parties and their candidates. The number one target appears to be the immensely popular PM Bibi Netanyahu. A major objection is that he has been in office for too long, ten years.  Anyone notice that Queen Elizabeth has reigned for over sixty years? Nevertheless, despite his enormous success especially in diplomacy, economics and security, a  left-wing motto  evolved, "Anyone but Bibi." 

Attorney general Avichai Mandeblit has decided to indict the ever popular Netanyahu just before the elections.  Three major charges of corruption have been lodged all of which were dismissed by world renowned Harvard Professor of Law, Alan Dershowitz and famous Israeli Law Professor Avraham Bell, as not having enough evidence for conviction. 


One ought not to confuse  the kind of racial prejudice and discrimination embedded in the American experience with the platform of  Otzma, a party that stands firmly for a Jewish homeland for Jews. 
Given the situation and the complicated nature of the  Israeli parliamentary system, Netanyahu of the Likud party,  opted to garner sufficient votes to form a coalition with himself as premier, by aligning  with The Jewish Home, National Union and OtzmaYehudit.  No sooner was this merger made public, an outpouring of wrath followed, both in Israel and the United States, against Otzma and by extension Netanyahu. 

To say that the Otzma leadership were once followers of Kahana and admired Baruch Goldstein is irrelevant. Both are long since gone. The Likud was founded by Menachem Begin of the Irgun, considered by the British to be a terrorist.   Are Likudniks by extension  Irgunites? They are non-violent and do not advocate violence. 

Otzma is racist, they claim, because it objects to intermarriage. Really? No one is suggesting that Arabs are inferior because of color, race or otherwise unsuitable to marry Jews.  The objection  to intermarriage is Jewish law and not possible in  Israel where marriage is under the jurisdiction of the rabbinate. Take note, the rate of intermarriage in the United States is approaching 70%. The American Jewish population is rapidly declining. 

Otzma's emphasis is on Israel as the Jewish homeland. As such, it offers compensation to any Arab willing to relocate to an Arab country, not our of prejudice but rather ethnocentricity.  It does advocate stronger punitive measures for terrorists, stronger deterrence, less legal hampering of IDF soldiers' reaction to attacking terrorists, annexation of Judea and Samaria. The rights and privileges of Israeli Arabs loyal to the State of Israel and willing to accept the Jewish character of the state are recognized as stated in the Israeli Declaration of Independence.  I acknowledge that I do not know Otzma's policies regarding  Arab residents of the territories but without doubt, whatever they may be, they will be fair and legal. There will not be  plans to round up people, place them in cattle cars, haul them off to concentration camps or worse, shoot them en mass in fields and forests - so much for the ill-chosen Nazi comparison we have heard. 

To my fellow and sister Israelis who object to the coalition, I would like to say that in a democracy, people are free to express their opinions and to vote their conscience without threats or undo pressure from religious leaders or otherwise.  Threatening to bar Otzma from the Knesset should they be elected, is a breach of the public trust in the democratic process,  leading to political instability and chaos. This is a decision for the supreme court and not individuals - and Otzma has already served in the Knesset.

To my fellow and sister American Jews,  individual religious leaders and organizations, I express utter dismay with your  interference in the Israeli political process. Soon we will be reading Megilat Esther. In chapter 3:12, the king's decree was sent, "to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language."  Rabbanit Shani Tarrigan explains that the Jews were dispersed in many lands of the Persian empire and the decree went out to them in their own language and based on their own culture. 


The Likud was founded by Menachem Begin of the Irgun, considered by the British to be a terrorist.   Are Likudniks by extension  Irgunites?
As such, one ought not to confuse  the kind of racial prejudice and discrimination embedded in the American experience with the platform of  Otzma, a party that stands firmly for a Jewish homeland for Jews. 

Should the coalition of Likud, Jewish Home and Otzma succeed, Otzma will  possibly gain one seat or a maximum of two seats in a Knesset of 120. 

Trivial at best with no chance of putting through any legislation.  Importantly though, Jewish Home, a successor to the defunct Religious Zionist party NRP which represented Mizrachi, will have several seats, including the all important education portfolio. Without Jewish Home, modern, centrist, religious  and traditional Zionists will have absolutely no voice in the Knesset to be. The New Right is not a religious party. The risk could be removal of basic Jewish components of the Israeli curriculum as Tanach, tampering with Kashrut, altering the status quo on Shabbat observance, funding for Religious Zionist projects such as National Service and Nuclear Torani groups in development towns, and so many additional areas effecting the Jewish and religious character of our state. 

 American Jewish organizations and your leadership, please  focus your  attention on your own backyard. Eradicate the racism and anti Semitism emanating from the halls of  today's US Congress and spreading across the country.  Improve the quality of Jewish education in America so that hundreds of thousands of young Jews occupying American campuses no longer endorse BDS, vilify Israel and embrace the Palestinian cause while ignorant of  their own Jewish heritage and identity. Promote Aliya. Fight intermarriage.

Come join us here in our beautiful country; bring your dreams, bring your skills and  bring your voices to enrich our political, religious and cultural life.




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