In marmur

By Rabbi Dow Marmur.

I’ve reconciled myself to the fact that Sheli Yachimovitch isn’t taking my advice that Labor should join the Netanyahu government. But can she survive as party leader having turned down the Shas guru, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who is said to have even been prepared to call on her to persuade her to see sense? Imagine!

And will she be able to survive the alleged near-rebellion among some, or many, of her own party members who want her to join?

It’s easy to suspect the motives of others. Yosef is, of course, so afraid that untold millions of shekels of subsidies to Shas institutions and individuals will be cut once Lapid and Bennett are in the government (and punish Shas for vilifying both during the election campaign) that he’s prepared to deign to go and see “that woman.”

And, for all I know, many Labor members may want to be in the government not “to save the country” but for more personal reasons. Being a minister is said to be very attractive – and addictive.

As for me, I’ve expectations neither of financial handouts nor access to power. My reason for wanting Ms. Yachimovitch to join the Netanyahu government is very different: I believe that, as deplorable as it is to bribe the haredim to be inside the proverbial tent, it’s much more risky to have Bennett’s Habayit Hayehdi there.

Shas is only mercenary; Habayit Hayehudi is ideological. Mercenaries are much easier to deal with than ideologues. Bennett’s ideology is that of the settlers and if they’ll have even more of a say in the shaping of Israeli government policy, we’ll have to endure rapid Jewish expansion in the West Bank with terrible consequences. No wonder that one of the ministries Bennett wants for himself or for one of his gang is that of Housing.

Though the prospect of negotiations with the Palestinians is currently very small, and even Obama’s forthcoming visit isn’t likely to kick start it, the presence of the settlers in the cabinet will kill it for good.

As a Reform Jew I’m indeed very distressed about the influence of the ultra-Orthodox on the Government of Israel. However, as a Peacenik Jew I’m much more worried about Israel giving up on the so-called two-state solution. Without peace, all Jews – in Israel and, indeed, in the whole world – will be in deep trouble: much deeper than the injustices to which non-Orthodox Jews are currently subjected.

Netanyahu seems to be on the way out. He lost seats in the last election. The pact between Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi rendered him politically impotent. He knows that he has to yield much power to the newcomers, because if it comes to new elections, his party will be decimated beyond recognition.

For a long time I thought that Avigdor Lieberman would usurp Netanyahu’s position. But in view of his current court case and the fact that he probably won’t even get the ministry he wants, I now believe that Naftali Bennett is the one who’ll challenge Netanyahu, probably by “combining” his party with Likud. If he could form such a firm alliance with Yesh Atid, taking over Likud, which has strong pro-settler elements in its ranks – including in the Knesset – should be a cake walk.

For the record: the above is pure speculation. I have no contacts in high places and no outside evidence – just a hunch intended for discussion among friends.

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