Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

4 Sivan 5759 - May 19, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Thoughts on the Morning After

by Mordecai Plaut

The results of the elections certainly arouse mixed feelings in the chareidi community. Our Knesset representation went up, but so did that of those who ran on a platform of hatred for us.

First and foremost we must remember that politics and governments are fleeting and passing, while our Torah is eternal. Our task is to deal with the reality that confronts us and to do our best to serve Hashem, come what may.

Our first immediate task is to celebrate the Zman Matan Toraseinu and to grow in all ways. Let us emphasize that we must be "as one man with one heart," and go with simcha and love to receive the Torah with abundant thanks to He who has chosen us from all the nations, separated us from all those who stray and given as a Toras emmes.

What Can We Expect of Barak?

Ehud Barak and Binyamin Netanyahu seem to differ primarily in the company they keep. This implies that the makeup of the 15th Knesset, and the governing coalition that Barak will put together, will be very important in determining what the next few years are like.

Barak's campaign was superficial -- exactly as ordered by his American campaign strategists. He kept promising change (for the better, of course), unity, brotherhood and peace, but he said nothing about how he intended to reach these goals or even work towards them. The closest he came to committing himself was in citing more concrete goals -- such as creating 300,000 new jobs and pulling out of Lebanon within a year. There was not a word about how he intended to go about reaching those goals.

With only a relatively short history in politics (about five years) and a military rather than political background, Barak has very few ideological or political roots.

The result is that Barak is virtually a free agent. He can do whatever he wants. On the other hand, he probably does not have a very well developed sense of what he wants across the board, in every facet of the political and social life of the nation. We have seen him change his position 180 degrees on the advice of someone he trusts.

Will he want to make a Jewish coalition? Will he try to include at least some of the religious parties? Will he take it for granted that Meretz is part of his government?

All these are critical issues and Barak's response to them will have a critical effect on how things turn out over the next few years.

More Detailed Analysis of the Results

It is clear that Barak's win is overwhelming -- a landslide. He got around 56% of the total vote against an incumbent.

Yerushalayim was heavily Netanyahu. Even more than all of Israel voted for Barak, Yerushalayim voted for Netanyahu, 65% to 35%.

According to the preliminary results of Malam, 90% of the votes of the religious cities went to Netanyahu, while 47% of their votes went to UTJ. It was not clear exactly what is included in this sample.

If Barak wants to take revenge, he will know where to turn. However his early statements indicate that this will not be the case, as he said that he will be the prime minister of all Israelis, even those who did not vote for him.

The rise in the UTJ votes is gratifying and long awaited. Many have worried about the steady four seats that seemed to be the constant level of UTJ. In truth, some of the votes that constituted their seats went to Shas over the last fifteen years, and now they have finally recovered from that loss and forged ahead.

The Right seems to have disappeared. It has lost any unifying idea, and torn itself apart. At the moment it appears unlikely that any of the candidates to succeed Netanyahu can rally enough support to mount a credible challenge to Barak in the foreseeable future.

rce. The volunteers returned home late at night, only after the votes had been counted.

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