Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

27 Teves 5764 - January 21, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Coalition of Silence

by E. Rauchberger

Ariel Sharon is looking worried. Very worried. David Spector, the videotape man, destroyed his tranquility. In his worst nightmares Sharon did not believe a man who had been so close to him, practically a member of the family, would go public with tapes incriminating him and pointing to his involvement in the various funding transfers, contradicting Sharon's claim that everything was carried out by his sons.

What worries Sharon most is what has not yet been divulged to the public. Sharon does not know which tapes Mr. Spector still has in his possession, what they show and what he will whisk out in the future.

Yet some of his worries are allayed by the conduct of Tommy Lapid and other Shinui MKs, which might save his skin.

Sharon's first decision after winning the elections was to bring Shinui into the coalition at any price. Although he also engaged in negotiations with Shas and United Torah Jewry, the negotiators from the two parties say the talks were a sham and were clearly not backed by any real intention of reaching an agreement.

The most widespread explanation is that Sharon had decided to set up a coalition in the image of Shinui due to economic reasons and in order to allow him to implement his various economic plans, including large cuts in the national budget, cuts from the funding for yeshivas and other Torah institutions and cutbacks on Children's Allowances and various welfare programs. Of course such cuts could not be carried out with chareidi parties in the coalition, so a price had to paid--the loss of loyal, longstanding partners-- based on claims that in this case the ends justified the means.

Shinui, on the other hand, fit into the scheme very well. Sharon's plans were perfectly amenable to a party seeking to look out for the rich and the upper crust from North Tel Aviv. Thus the current coalition was born.

But recently it appeared Sharon's motivation for setting up a coalition with Lapid and Shinui and his decision to bring them into the coalition at any price may have been totally different.

Sharon, unlike the majority of the public, knew exactly what lay in store for him in the investigations and what information was destined to surface. He was also well aware of who he would need in such a situation.

Sharon knew if he drove Lapid into the opposition he could anticipate real trouble. The Shinui chairman would not relent until Sharon was forced to resign. The Prime Minister also knew Lapid was also capable of fanning the flames in the media.

But by having Lapid and his party join the coalition, Sharon knew he was buying silence that could prove very important to him.

He was undeterred by shouts from Eli Yishai or Yitzhak Cohen of Shas. Shouts don't draw blood. Nor would shouts from UTJ MKs do any real harm. They have relatively little impact on the media and public sentiment.

Sharon, therefore, made a strategic decision to set up his coalition with a single objective in mind: silence. Silence from Lapid, from Paritzky and Poraz and from all of their other cohorts.

And he was right. The entire political system is astounded by the conspicuous quiet from Tommy Lapid in the face of the daily revelations about the corruption scandals Sharon and his sons are embroiled in. Suddenly Shinui has nothing to say about the man who created an image for himself and for his party of corruption fighters and shining examples of integrity. They are acting as if they do not live in this country, do not hear the news and do not read the papers.

Imagine if such investigations had been conducted against a Shas MK, for example. The most sophisticated earplugs would provide little protection against the shrill outcries from Lapid, Paritzky, Poraz and the rest of Shinui's hypocritical gang. They would have blackened his reputation ruthlessly.

Yet here we have a case of the silence of the lambs in exchange for five government ministries, a coalition without chareidim, drastic cuts in Children's Allowances, yeshivas, Torah institutions and chareidi culture, the closure of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the dismantling of the religious councils, a body blow to religious services and the transfer of rabbinate courts to their control. Now Shinui sees no evil.

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