Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

19 Adar II 5765 - March 30, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Opinion & Comment
Israeli Politics Makes One Hope for Pesach

Purim is over, even in Yerushalayim which enjoyed a three-day Purim this year, but the Purim spirit lives on in Israel, and especially in Yerushalayim.

Israeli politics of the past months has been characterized by twists, turns, disguises, and surprises. Even though Israeli politicians have never been known for their consistency, even veteran observers have been taken by surprise at some of the changes.

The big vote this week is about the Israeli state budget. By law, the government must pass a budget by the end of March or else new elections are held. If new elections are called, it is assumed that the disengagement plan from Gaza and the northern Shomron will be postponed (though this need not necessarily be the case, but this is what is widely assumed) until after the elections and the formation of a new government — which may cancel it altogether, opponents hope.

So, many politicians are taking the opposite position of their beliefs about the budget itself because of the disengagement that is supposed to be tied to it.

Labor, which has severely criticized the anti-social-welfare policies of the Sharon-Netanyahu budget and as far as the merits of the budget itself would certainly be happier voting "nay," is instead solidly in favor of the budget all the way down the line.

The Likud "rebels" — those who oppose party leader Sharon's disengagement plan but otherwise remain loyal Likud members — are basically in favor of the budget in principle since most of them accept Netanyahu's approach to shoring up the economy for growth. Other things being equal, they would certainly vote "yea" for the budget. However since they want to stop the disengagement, they will vote against it.

For months Shinui, former partner of the government and still an enthusiastic supporter of the substance of all its policies (it only left because the chareidim were given $65 million), had declared that as the leader of the opposition it would not support the government. Even though its own supporters and plenty of others explained that it was being silly and would certainly be punished at the polls if it voted against a budget that it basically believes in and causes the failure of the disengagement that it passionately believes in, Shinui leaders insisted that they would not budge. However last week Lapid suddenly gave in completely for a slush fund of about $165 million that he could have had months earlier. They remain outside the government, but they will vote with it.

Superficially, Sharon seems to be in a great position politically. His largest and most credible opposition party (Labor) is part of the government, his own party nonetheless retains the key ministries, he was elected by a large margin two years ago and still enjoys broad-based support in the polls — even the press is nice to him. It sounds wonderful and the truth is that arguably no Israeli leader has ever had all this at once.

His own problem is within his own party! About a third of his own Likud is bitterly opposed to his disengagement plan and fights it openly. Maybe another third is also not happy with his approach but unwilling to oppose him openly because of various personal and political concerns.

It is all truly a confusing and confused situation.

Adar-Nisan is known as the season of Redemption, beginning with the miracle of Purim, through the Exodus of Pesach and culminating at Sinai. After Purim, we always look forward to Pesach. The current situation can remind us how pathetic the entire current situation is, and strengthen our prayers and work towards the real Redemption. May it come soon, in our days.

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