Shaked and Bennett in Yamina meeting
Shaked and Bennett in Yamina meeting Yamina spokesperson

The most tangible expression of the deepening internal conflict in Israeli society is the fact that four election campaigns were squashed into a two year period. Each side tried to defeat its opponents and reach the hoped-for 61 Knesset seats while refusing outright to cooperate with the opposing side. And then, during this difficult moment in the life of the nation, in which its crucial powers were "separating more and more" as Rabbi Kook wrote, one party, Yamina, came to the rescue and decided to change the political paradigm that has prevailed here for decades - by establishing a unifying government.

The crux of its message was the ability to administer the country on the basis of the 80% upon which we all agree, while leaving the 20% on which we disagree out of the picture. And indeed, the government that rose as a result early last summer racked up accomplishments in a relatively short period, including the passing of a social welfare- oriented budget, decreasing the national deficit, executing a kashrut reform that most of the country accepts, deciding to found new communities in the Negev in strategic locations, waging a battle against crime in the Arab sector after years of neglect (there is much more to do there, of course), having the highest number of building starts in 26 years, bringing to an end containment of the incendiary balloons in the Gaza envelope sent from the Strip, and beginning a period of relative quiet in that envelope that has not been experienced in 15 years, renewing strategic diplomatic ties with states in the region, authorizing unprecedented plans to develop the Golan Heights at a cost of one billion shekels, introducing optiic fiber cables all over the country and more.

Despite the government's overall positive functioning, its support from the public on the right has continued to decrease, reaching a critical point when MK Idit Silman resigned from the coalition. But this crisis, extreme as it may be, can also be an opportunity to strengthen the government - if Yamina acts to correct the strategic errors that led to it.

Yemina's most severe strategic error is the concept adopted by its leaders – and passed on to the public – that this is a government of "no other choice," a government by default that was only established after it became obvious that there was no way to form a haredi-right government with Netanyahu at its head. In conclusion, the justification for the present government was the avoidance of a fifth election. This way of looking at the situation is not only untrue, it is directed towards failure, because it results in constant and continuous pressure on its members to leave at the first sign of the possibility of forming an alternate government, instead of transferring the pressure to the opposition so that its members aim to join the government.

This perception is also inherently temporary, because the excuse that forming this government prevented elections can only be used up to a certain point. It is also perceived as not credible and self-serving, because while describing the formation of a "no other choice" government as a "sacrifice," Yamina did succeed in obtaining a good portion of the comforts of rulership and its leader is the person sitting in the prime minister's office. Above all, it presents the message that it is an afterthought, does not project worthiness, is seen as filling a need at most – and in Israel's identity politics, the most important thing is identifying with the platform and values of one's party, the desire for the party to "speak" for me and represent my identity.

The second strategic mistake is abandoning the identity conflict in the Religious Zionist camp, ignoring the pledge made by Bezalel Smotrich and his party – most of whom are haredi-leumi (chardal) - with the haredi parties and the Likud, thereby abandoning his Religious Zionist brothers, those whose senior partner he had been just a year earlier. Instead of proudly raising the banner of non-chardal Religious Zionism, pushing Smotrich into a corner where he represents only the chardal public, Yamina chose to take an apologetic stance, explaining and trying to placate those who trolled her and accused her of everything under the sun, despite the government's positive actions in so many spheres. It is as if the party has decided to give up attempting to explain that the special tidings this government brings, first and foremost the idea of unity, are not examples of losing Yamina's ideological foundations, but exactly the opposite – returning to its deepest values and keeping them faithfully vis a vis voters.

The chardal sector, which is leading an aggressive battle against Yamina, supposedly in the name of the party's electorate, does not support these ideas and principles, but actually, that sector did not vote for Yamina anyway and has no intention of doing so in the future (justifiably). Therefore, Yamina's members should get less upset by the protests on the web and the demonstrations held on the streets and make it clear that they take pride in this government, seeing it as reflecting the original idea of what Religious Zionism is supposed to be, and that they do not think for a minute of leaving it. As soon as a clear voice to that effect is heard, the demos will end immediately because they will be useless. And if I may sum up: Members of the Yamina Knesset faction – do not change from what you are, just be what you are!

Translated from the Hebrew Makor Rishon newspaper by Rochel Sylvetsky

Haggai Friedler is an attorney who has rabbinic ordination and is one of the founders of the 80/80 Covenant initiative.

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