Religious Zionism suffers from Stockholm Syndrome

The election crisis needs to be a wake-up call for religious Zionism, to move away from Netanyahu and the haredim. Opinion

Menachem Rahat,

Netanyahu and Bennett at Knesset session
Netanyahu and Bennett at Knesset session
Miriam Alster / Flash 90

Israel is now 316 days sitting in no-man's land, with no government who is willing to move it forward. In the right corner we have 55 MKs, in the left corner we have 52 Mks and in between sit 13 Arab MKs. Still we have no coalition and no plan to move forwards.

We could have third elections, perhaps it would break the deadlock. But, truthfully it's not a realistic plan. Its wasteful and opportunistic. Who can guarantee that these third elections will break the deadlock? If they don't, do we go to a fourth and fifth election?

There needs to be a new, original plan to pull us out of this schism.

The most obvious and, seemingly reasonable plan is for the religious Zionist parties to move over to Benny Gantz. For the New Right Party and the Bayit Yehudi Party to leave the 55 strong bloc and shift over to form a coalition with Blue and White.

Sounds revolutionary? Seems against the feelings over the religious Zionist voters?

The religious Zionist voting base is tied to Netanyahu in a catholic marriage. It seems to be fact without any thought. "Only Bibi." This marriage ignores any attention to the fact that Netanyahu works tirelessly to get rid of the right wing parties. The religious Zionist voter, who is usually a rational, forward-thinking person, performs the role of an abused wife. The harder you hit her, her resolve to stay is strengthened.

This tactic is nothing new. Already in 2014 when Netanyahu met with Mozes (owner of Yediot Aharonot) he did so in order to destroy Bennett and the Jewish Home Party. "My purpose is to bring down Bennett below 15 seats." When asked about Bennett's suitability to be Minister of Defense, Netanyahu answered; "If there's a candidate from the left wing, it'll be easier." Is that understood, religious Zionist voters? Ehud Barak is preferable to your candidate! Unbelievable!

Netanyahu didn't stop there, he recruited Israel Hayom to bring down Bennett and Shaked. The newspaper even appointed a journalist whose job was write against them. All done in order to bring down religious Zionism.

There's more. In 2013 a close aid to Netanyahu sent a text to the editor of Walla News; the text was leaked in January 2019. In the text the aid requested that the editor find dirt on Bennett's father. It seems that Bennett Senior participated in 1995 in a demonstration against Oslo. The text suggests "check the pictures of the demonstration at Kfar Shmrayahu. Bennett's father almost physically attacks Rabin; it needs to be understood what house Bennett grew up in."

But the religious Zionists continue to turn the other cheek. We continue to support the "right wing bloc" headed up by Aryeh Deri (leader of Shas) a supporter of Oslo, and Netanyahu who supported the pullout from Gush Katif and Hevron, who froze the building of new homes in Jerusalem, and who backed down before Jordan and the Waqf.

Netanyahu's campaign against the religious Zionist parties has been running for over a decade where he used Shas and United Torah Judaism to block them from any position of power. In the Rabbinic courts and Ministry of Religion for example, UTJ and Shas hold all the power and rabbis whose sole evil was encouraging young people to draft into the IDF and love the State of Israel were removed and thrown out.

Netanyahu's inner circle worked tirelessly to block Rabbi Yaakov Ariel's appointment as Chief Ashkenazic Rabbi, favoring Rabbi Yona Metzger, the darling of the haredim. Let us remember that Metzger ended up in jail, all done to prevent a representative of the religious Zionists to be in a place of power.

The worst case occurred in the latest elections for the Chief Rabbis. Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu and Rabbi David Stav both had good chances of being voted in as religious Zionist representatives. Netanyahu and his supporters again made sure haredi candidates were appointed.

In the Rabbinical courts the same record is playing. There are almost no religious Zionist judges, nearly all new judges come from Shas and UTJ. All done with the support of Netanyahu. Religious Zionists are only needed to serve in the army and to settle new towns. Otherwise they should keep out.

Liberman leaned this lesson in his time on Netanyahu's side. He understood that the PM is only working to ruin him. However Liberman taught Netanyahu a lesson he won't forget, that debts have to be paid, and wrongdoing is not forgotten.

The time has come for the religious Zionist voters and parties to put an end to this Stockholm Syndrome. To stop turning the other cheek and to put themselves at the forefront and look after their own interests. By joining Benny Gantz it could counter-balance Lapid. Gantz and Ya'alon won't be worse than Netanyahu. Enough with being everyone's doormat; there's nothing to lose.

Menachem Rahat is a veteran journalist, former political writer of Ma'ariv




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