Sunday, May 21, 2023

The Stupidity of Showing the Arabs 'Who's Boss'

Itamar Ben-Gvir on Har HaBayis (VIN)
I do not wish yet another election upon the Israeli people. First because – as an Orthodox Jew, I’m not sure I would be happy with the results. And second I’m pretty sure that Israel’s electorate is sick and tired of going to the polls so frequently with little if any chance of forming a stable government. Of late, the ‘shelf life’ of an Israel’s prime minister is pretty short. Not long enough to govern effectively.

That said, the current government is infected by a serious malaise that seems to be descending into madness. While I support  the current government agenda to reform the judiciary, I do not support the extremes their current bill wants to implement. Hopefully a compromise will eventually be worked out that will allow balance of power between Knesset (Israel’s legislature) and the judiciary rather than power going from one extreme to the other.

The  serious malaise I am talking about is not about the unprecedented power the Charedi parties now have. While I understand why a lot of voters are upset by that, I do not see it as an existential threat for the following reasons. 

I truly believe that a compromise can be reached between Charedim on the one hand, and the rest of Israel on the other. A compromise that will make the country a lot stronger both politically and religiously. If only the politicians would get out of the way, I think common sense compromises on issues such as compulsory army service,  government support for Charedi education, and Charedi participation on the work force can be worked out. Other than to say that religious coercion ought to be rejected, the details of a compromise are beyond the scope of this post. I will leave it to people of goodwill on both sides to work out the details.

The malaise I am taking about are the people in the ruling coalition whose insistence on ‘showing the Arabs who’s boss’ will bring untold tragedies to the those of our people that live in the holy land.

I am increasingly disgusted by Jews whose religious fervor impels them to  ‘spit in the face’ of Arabs.. This is one of the things that Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir is good at. 

As is his habit, he went up to Har HaBayis (the Temple Mount) not so much to Daven there (which he did on his cell phone) but to demonstrate who really owns Israel. All of it including the West Bank and especially Har HaBayis! As noted in a headline at VIN: 

Ben-Gvir Visits Temple Mount: ‘We Are The Owners Of Jerusalem And Israel

Ben-Gvir accomplished nothing with that little stunt. One that he is fond of repeating as often as possible. He relishes garnering more attention with his increased notoriety. 

Here’s the thing. There is not an Orthodox Jew in the world that doesn’t know that the Temple Mount belongs to the Jewish people. It was God’s gift to us. A gift promised to all 3 patriarchs. Anyone that has studied the bible knows this. It is not a secret. And although the Arabs (who are mostly Muslim) do not share that belief, they know quite well that the two major faiths of Judaism and Christianity believe it. We do not have to keep shoving it down their throats, Especially when devout Muslims have had defacto control over the Temple Mount, given to them by the Israeli government when they re-captured it in 1967.

No one gains a  thing by Ben-Gvir’s stupid insistence on showing the Arabs who’s boss. What he does gain is Arab incitement, that often sparks violence where Jews are hurt or even killed! He gains giving ammunition to BDS supporters. He gains the condemnation of the world for violating agreements made by Israel 55 years ago! He gains the animosity of an American president and his state department. An animosity that –  if Ben-Gvir continues along his present path could hurt Israel’s relationship with its closest ally.  These actions have already rattled support by congressional Democrats. 

I realize that a lot religious Zionist Israelis support Ben-Gvir and actually cheer him on. Not caring a whit about what anyone else thinks. ‘It’s our country and were are going to do what we want!’ ‘Including exercising our religious rights to pray on the Temple mount.’ Countering claims of inciting Arab violence by say things like ’they attack us anyway – so why not exercise those rights?!

I also know that many (most?) religious Zionist Poskim approve – perhaps even encourage going up to the Temple Mount in areas that they are certain there would not be a violation of the biblical prohibition against a ritually impure person treading on holy Temple ground. A very serious violation of Torah law. 

But on this issue I agree with the  Charedi rabbinic leaders who all say that no one should go up there. Fist because they may cross that line inadvertently. And more importantly because of Arab incitement which increases danger to the Jewish people.

Like I indicated at the outset, I am loathe to see yet anther election foisted upon the Israeli people, But with people like Ben-Gvir having so much power and influence, it sure is tempting.