Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The End of Chareidi Power

This looks to me as though it is the end for the Chareidi parties and their power in the government.

In a surprise move, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced at 2:00am that he is withdrawing the bill for early elections, and instead forming an alliance with Shaul Mofaz and his Kadima party.

This move has been branded 'cowardly', 'dirty' and 'shady' by the left and has made new opposition leader Shelly Yechimovich very angry, but to me it seems a brilliant 'win-win' situation for everyone except the Chareidim and Tommy Lapid.

Bibi wins, because he now has a way out of the dilemma posed to him by the revoking of the Tal law. Before he was unable to do away with the army exemption for Yeshiva boys because he needed the support of the Chareidi parties to keep the government. He was unable to keep the law both because of a High Court ruling, and because Avigdor Lieberman had threatened to vote against the government if they didn't do something about it.
Netanyahu is now on course to become the first Prime Minister in decades (or perhaps ever) to stay in his post for the full term, without early elections.

Shaul Mofaz wins, because if the country had gone to elections he would have been the least popular candidate, and his Kadima party would have gone from being the biggest party in the current Knesset to either third or fourth place, becoming insignificant in the process. Now he become deputy Prime Minister and Minister of something-or-other (technically Minister without portfolio - i.e. he gets the car and the staff, but without having any responsibility). The only downsides for him are that it makes him seem to be a two-faced liar (because 2 months ago he promised he would never join a unity government) and Kadima may completely disappear and be swallowed up by Likud - which is where most of the members came from in the first place.

The country wins, because we don't have to spend millions of shekels on a new election, and the country has more stability than it has had for a long time. Sure, we also lose, because we are stuck with Barak for a while longer (though he won't be able to do very much on his own) and because there is no real opposition any more (the government now consists of 96 out of 120 seats I think - leaving a random assortment of Labour and Arabs in opposition). But we haven't had a serious opposition for the past 3 years anyway. We also win big time because Tommy Lapid had timed his entry into politics perfectly, but now he'll have to wait for a year. A year is a long time in politics, and by then most people may have forgotten all about him.

The leftist parties (i.e. Tommy Lapid) and the right wing parties (National Union) lose because they don't get another chance in the polls right now. on the other hand, there was no guarantee that they would have done any better than they have at the moment, so they did not really lose anything.

BUT the chareidim are going to lose big time. I'm sure in the end some deal will be worked out that will continue to give them army exemptions. But the reality is that by the end of July Kadima and Likud have promised to work out an alternative to the Tal Law which will ensure that everyone does some kind of National Service. The Chareidi parties now have no power in the government, and if they threaten to leave the coalition they are welcome to walk out the door.

The reality is that the biggest WINNERS of all this will be the Chareidim in the long term, because once they do some kind of national service (and it won't necessarily be firing guns or driving around in tanks) they will be able to integrate into Israeli society. They will have the choice to either continue learning Torah full-time, or get a job, or go to higher academic studies, or any combination of those. They will no longer be the bogey-man to the rest of Israeli society, and they will gradually move out of the poverty zone that so many of them live in at the moment.

The rest of the Jewish world will win, because they will not have to give so much money in tzedakah to support the kollelim and chareidi life-style. Instead they will be able to use their charity money to develop Israel and make it even greater than it is already.

I know - this is all wishful thinking right? But sometimes the glass really is half full. And sometimes you just need a new glass.

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