Our Perspective on the Election Campaign, 5763
The Israeli political system is centered around the Knesset,
which is made up of political parties. Every citizen who
votes will cast a ballot for one of the parties that
registered to run for election last month. (This time there
will be only a ballot for a party and not a separate ballot
for prime minister, a return to the system that was in force
until about ten years ago.)
The results are tallied, and then seats in the 120-member
Knesset are given out in proportion to the number of votes
received by the party. Theoretically, for every almost-1
percent of the vote (0.83 percent), a party would get one
seat. In practice a party must get more votes per seat
because of the way that excess votes (enough only for a
fractional seat) are accounted for, and also because of the
minimum that every party must receive to enter the Knesset
(which virtually ensures that the smallest party must have at
least two Knesset representatives).
After the votes are tallied, the leader of the largest party
is given the opportunity to form a government which he will
lead as prime minister.
Israeli politics has been dominated by two large parties
which have shared the leadership between them: on the right
is the Likud, now led by Ariel Sharon, and on the left is
Labor, now led by Amram Mitzna. Also on the extreme left is
Meretz and on the extreme right is Yisrael Beiteinu.
Then there are the parties that are not defined by politics
but by other interests: ethnic parties and religious parties.
These include the Arab parties and the religious parties such
as United Torah Judaism (UTJ) and Shas (a combined religious
and ethnic party) and the National Religious Party.
Striking in this election is the rise of another party
devoted to a special interest: the Shinui party which is
devoted to hatred of chareidim. Its leader, Tomy Lapid, loses
no chance to criticize chareidim, and he is quite creative,
articulate, inventive and colorful about his complaints. He
is consistently against chareidim and anything that we do,
and most of the support of his party is from people who agree
with his message of anti-chareidim.
Lapid's main theme is that the chareidim are living off of
everyone else. He recently claimed that his children will
have to support 70 chareidim. He constantly harps on the fact
that chareidim have large families, for example: "The more
that the haredim multiply, the tighter their noose around the
country`s throat; the more their roots dig down deeper, the
less chance we have of freeing ourselves from their grip." He
calls kashrus supervision a "tax" on the secular, ignoring
simple economic considerations that show that broadening the
market for a product allows economies of scale that make it
cheaper for everyone, far outweighing the relatively minor
cost of kashrus supervision.
Up until now the fight against religion in Israel has been
led by the political left. Shinui identifies with the center
and right of the political spectrum, which is generally more
sympathetic to Judaism.
The chareidi community does not regard the Israeli political
arena as an area of our primary interest. However, as the
Steipler once pointed out, if we do not speak up, others will
gladly speak in our name. The rabbonim have already endorsed
United Torah Judaism. That is the basis of what we do,
although we also believe that the perspective the UTJ
represents is also the best for the country and the Jewish
people as a whole.
Just last week, HaRav Eliashiv told the heads of Degel
HaTorah, "At this time, there is no room for complacency. You
must do whatever you can. In today's conditions, in which the
continued existence of the religion and of the Olom
Hatorah are in danger, eveyone certainly understands that
he should do whatever he can to prevail in the struggle. You
must do whatever you can to strengthen the religion and to
increase kvod Shomayim."
Maran shlita then added, "Hashem yisborach
should help you to have brochoh and hatzlochoh
in your work."
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