One would think that American Jews might grapple first with real fears– of incessant attacks on Jews in the streets of American cities, rising crime, runaway inflation, a secular society inundated by an immoral and un-Jewish culture and value system that threatens to undermine Jews’ ability to live in America and raise their children to be pious Jews, assimilation, intermarriage, and a host of other problems.
Undoubtedly, much of this anxiety is being drummed up by the media in order to taint the political environment and especially to pressure Binyamin Netanyahu to jettison some of his right-wing coalition partners in favor of Benny Gantz and his center-left “National Camp” party. Gantz has ruled that out but that might just be his opening ploy in negotiations. And even if some of his partners are implacable “Never Bibi’s” – like Gideon Sa’ar or Ze’ev Elkin – and would never sit under Netanyahu, that would not necessarily inhibit Gantz who could spin his move as “saving the nation from Ben Gvir.”
And if his “National Unity Camp Party” collapses as a result of this split? Well, the small Israeli political parties routinely come and go, here today and gone tomorrow, resurfacing with almost the same cast of characters under a new name and banner. The Machaneh Hamamlachti in Hebrew– it was a bad name anyway with a misleading translation – might have already outlived its usefulness.
For his part, Netanyahu has made a career of such double-dealing, campaigning on the right and forming his governments and executing his policies from the center, even left. In fact, he is a master at it, betrayed only by the vast number of enemies and “Never Bibi’s” that he has accumulated over the years. He would glibly explain that this back-stabbing maneuver of abandoning the Religious Zionist Party is unfortunately necessary to prevent America from signing a nuclear deal with Iran, or some such other excuse. It really depends on the final count, and whether or not Netanyahu can reach 61 mandates with Gantz and without Betzalel Smotrich and/or Ben Gvir, who can also be divided despite their declarations to the contrary representing, as they do, two separate parties.
- deal forcefully and cogently with the Iran threat,
- undo the damage of the educational system that has been committed to obscuring the riches of Judaism from our elementary and high school pupils,
- repeal the Avigdor Liberman tax hikes that were primarily intended to hurt the Haredim,
- crack down on Arab terror and those who foment it on both sides of the so-called Green Line,
- reclaim Jewish sovereignty in the Negev and Galil,
- halt illegal Arab building there and in Area C of Judea and Samaria,
- expand Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria thereby immediately lowering the cost of housing,
- limit the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and
- pass the Override Law, further integrating Haredim into society, and most importantly of all,
- reverse the attempts to diminish the Jewish character of the State and the Jewish identity of its citizens, and quash the threats to Torah, the traditional Jewish family, the public observance of Shabbat, and the proper observance of Mitzvot such as Kashrut, conversion, military service, and others.
In that regard, the Religious Zionist party including Ben Gvir has a significant role to play. The influence on the Diaspora could be immeasurably constructive. American Jews should not fear a proud Jew or a Jewish state that is proudly Jewish. Indeed, this can assist American Jews in regaining their spiritual footing which has been wobbly for decades. There is nothing wrong – in fact, it is an unmitigated good – for American Jews to see ministers with kippot who take their Judaism seriously, who are committed to the Torah, the State, Jewish self-defense, the study of Torah and mitzvot, and whose policy prescriptions – for economics and social programs, for foreign affairs and culture – are grounded in Jewish law and values. It has happened before but it needs to be appreciated and magnified.
To be sure, the Democratic Party to which most Jews belong with a passion others reserve for their religion, will be unhappy with Netanyahu, Ben Gvir, and any right-wing government. Its sole Mideast foreign policy objective is to strengthen Iran with money and a nuclear capacity while weakening Israel through the two-state illusion and sowing internal unrest (and claiming that all this is strengthening Israel and weakening Iran). These Jews, devoted to the Democratic Party, have the chance to support a strong, democratic and Jewish Israel by influencing their party to accept the demographic realities in Israel and the decisions of our electorate.
What should be discouraged is the return of those incessant vulgar demonstrations and street blockages that became a ritual during Netanyahu’s last few terms and impaired domestic tranquility and people’s quality of life. Give it a rest, man.
It is an astonishingly significant moment and opportunity. To be sure, the Religious Zionist Party should take the lead in that sphere, and its leaders Smotrich and Ben Gvir are well positioned to assume that role.
Let us pray for the new government’s success and well-being, for its accomplishments will benefit the people who dwell in Zion and bring glory to the Torah.