Friday, March 02, 2018

Netanyahu , the Left, and Charedi Politics

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Matzav)
I have been reading with interest reports about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ultimate and untimely demise. It is interesting to see the differences in how various media have been reporting it. They range from outright glee and anticipation by the Left - citing the impending evidence of massive corruption... to dismissal by the Right of the investigation as a witch hunt with little evidence of any serious wrongdoing.

I have no clue where these investigations will lead. I may be wrong but my own view of Netanyahu’s guilt or innocence is that he is probably guilty of taking small gifts – which may be a technical violation of Israel’s corruption laws, but not much more than that. Will that end his career? Who knows? We shall see.

Much to the dismay of my friends to the Left, I have not been reticent in my support for the Prime Minister. I think he has been an effective leader although admittedly he  does brag and exaggerate about his achievements.

Those that may be guffawing at this right about now - might notice that the Israeli electorate is pretty much of this view as well. Not only has he been the longest sitting democratically elected Prime Minister in Israel’s history, he stands to win again if he were forced for any reason to call for new elections. 

What about the fact that after a lengthy investigation by the police they now recommend an indictment? Additionally, what about all the negative influence of the Left wing media incessantly predicting Netanyahu’s imminent downfall? I guess the Israeli electorate isn’t buying it. From Matzav
A poll released by Israel’s Maariv newspaper Friday indicated that the recent recommendations of Israel police to indict Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu on charges of corruption would not have a serious effect on the Likud party or the coalition. If new elections were held today, the Likud and five other coalition parties would garner a combined 65 seats, according to the new Rafi Smith poll—just one less than they currently hold. 
UTJ MK Rabbi Yaakov Litzman (Arutz Sheva)
I guess  Israelis realize the amount of bias that goes on in the media. Which doesn’t really take that much intelligence to ferret out. Whether on the Left or the Right - it’s pretty easy to know the political biases of the various Israeli news media. They don’t exactly hide it.

As I indicated, I can’t predict what will ultimately happen. I don’t really know how guilty or innocent the Prime Minister really is of everything he is suspected of. But unless he is somehow forced to resign - Netanyahu will surely retain power.

The question remains as to whether there actually will be early elections in Israel. There is one party that has actually made threats that would lead to that: UTJ (United Torah Judaism) - the Charedi Party. From 2 artilces in Arutz Sheva
Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman (UTJ) threatened that if the coalition does not vote for the new draft law, the haredi parties will not vote for the 2019 budget.
 The new Basic Law would declare that the study of the Torah has a supreme value. By enshrining Torah study as a "basic value" of the State of Israel, the new law would allow the government to circumvent the court's ruling and enable it to grant draft exemptions or deferments to those enrolled full-time in a yeshiva institution.
MK Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism) made clear on Wednesday that the haredi parties had no intention of compromising on the draft law. 
Yesh Atid MK, Yair Lapid (Wiki)
I get it. I really do. My own views on wholesale exemption of yeshiva students  aside - Charedim are tired of being jostled around by ‘anti Charedi’ politicians. Who are trying to eliminate or reduce draft exemptions and deferments granted  (ever since the founding of the state) to Yeshiva students. Charedim want the Knesset to pass legislation that will end that.

However if Charedim bolt the current coalition government and force new elections – they will not gain anything. They will lose. The very poll that predicts a strong new coalition government for Netanyahu also predicts  an unprecedented victory for the man and the Party they believe most responsible for trying to eliminate the exemptions and deferments.  As noted in Matzav
(F)ormer Finance Minister Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party—a member of the opposition and a vocal critic of the prime minister, who has been pegged as a prime witness in one of two corruption charges—would see his party claim 22 seats, doubling its current 11. 
I’m pretty sure they will not be happy with this result. Where does this leave all the Leftist anti Netanyahu  haters that are salivating at the prospect of his undoing? They should not celebrate that prospect prematurely.  Whether Netanyahu retains power or not, new elections will weaken the Left in unprecedented ways as well:  
Coalition partner Jewish Home party, headed by Minister of Education and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett, would also rise by three seats to 11.
 The Arab Joint List would fall a single seat, while Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Union party would plummet to 15 seats, down from 24.
The moral of the story: Be careful for what you wish.