Avraham Shusteris
Avraham ShusterisCourtesy
In the United States, Orthodox Jews have always played an outsized role in civic participation and voting. While today most Orthodox Jews vote overwhelmingly conservative, in the past, many Orthodox Jews. saw no contradiction in voting for candidates who were supportive of policies that are inconsistent with Jewish values. It would not be uncommon for a hassidic Jew in New York to vote for a political candidate who supported LGBT rights and abortion rights, so long as the candidate was responsive to the parochial concerns of the Orthodox community as well.

So long as the country was humming along, Orthodox Jews had the luxury to vote based on narrow interests. When the foundations of the country, its values and integrity began to rapidly decline, many Orthodox Jews began to realize they no longer have the luxury of voting based on narrow interests. They need to vote based on who is best suited to keep the country and its values intact.

A similar shift is happening in Israel. In the past, the haredim were a small minority, living in a country that was run by secular ideologues. While they had a general disdain for religion, these secular Zionists were dreamers and doers. They were dedicated to their country and they loved their country. The country was humming along. They ran the military, the economy, and the education and the haredim were happy to take a back seat, as long as their interests were met..

Today the reality has changed completely. The secular Zionists have all but died out or moved to Silicon Valley. The idealistic and dedicated secular generation of the past has been in a good part replaced by an empty younger generation that knows of no values beyond narcissism and materialism while idealistic secular Zionists, while to be found in the IDF and other places, are a less powerful minority A secular society devoid of any real values or integrity does not have the ability to manage an economy, nor can it be trusted to lead an army, or to educate our country's children. If the country is to survive and thrive it needs a new generation of leaders who love and are dedicated to this country, who are committed to staying here. If given the choice, many secular Israelis would move to the US or Europe in a heartbeat. Sometimes it seems as if only the religious Jews of this country- haredi and Religious Zionists are committed to staying here and making our country thrive.

Torah Jews can no longer concern themselves with only their own insular interests. They are the ones with the will and integrity to lead. They are the ones that have the dedication and moral compass that will allow them to make the decisions that are right for the country in education, in the economy, in diplomacy and in military matters.

Torah Jews no longer have the luxury of remaining on the sidelines on matters of security for fear of provoking our enemies. When left wing politicians offer territorial concessions - the mere mention of which puts the entire country in danger- staying silent puts lives at risk.

While there certainly are Arabs who want to live in peace with Jews, those Arabs respect Jews who respect themselves and don't cower to terror.. Arabs that want to see us turn the other cheek when attacked have no tolerance for Jews in the first place. Nothing short of total capitulation will bring peace with this group, and they need no justification to engage in or support terror. To this group, our very existence in our ancestral homeland is a provocation.

In the past, religious parties relished the role of being political free agents. That was when the secular politicians still had some semblance of values and integrity. When the values of secular society are in rapid decline, there is no more room to play free agent. This past government has showed us how quickly and relentlessly a secular government can act to destroy every semblance of Jewish identity in this country. These are not people we should invite to birthday photo ops, let alone people we can make political alliances with.

It is time for the haredi parties to realize that the country has changed, and the haredi political parties must adapt to this change. The responsibility now rests on their shoulders to ensure that the entire country stays afloat. It is no longer just about Shabbat and yeshiva budgets. Our future existence in this country depends on having a stable, dedicated, leadership that extends on all fronts- security, economy education and more. It is time to put aside parochial interests and start solving national problems- because the responsibility rests on our shoulders. The Religious Zionist party realized this long ago. This upcoming election may be the wake up call to the haredi parties to begin implementing these changes.

Avraham Shusteris is an accountant in Ramat Beit Shemesh. He made aliyah from Monsey with his family in 2018.