Israeli Government Becomes Less Religious

In what can only be good news, the newly formed coalition government in Israel led by Benjamin Netanyahu is decidedly less religious because the ultra-orthodox Haredi political parties were excluded from that coalition, replaced by the secular Yesh Atid party. And the Haredis are none too happy about it:

On Wednesday afternoon, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu read out the details of his new government, prior to a lengthy debate and the eventual swearing in of its ministers, the members of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party demonstrated just how bitterly they resent being left out of the coalition: They got up and walked out of the plenum.

Over the hours of ensuing debate, they returned to the chamber, and several of them — along with their colleagues from the ultra-Orthodox Shas party — took the opportunity to walk to the podium and denounce a government they variously described as un-Jewish, anti-Jewish, shameful, evil and heartless…

Shas and United Torah Judaism are accustomed to their places in government, and fully expected to keep them in Netanyahu’s third term. Netanyahu did his best, but his other coalition partners would not be moved. Worse, the centrist Yesh Atid and the right-wing Jewish Home parties forced him to agree — in principle, at least — to a new law that would abolish the blanket draft exemptions for yeshiva students…

Gafni, in his furious address, declared that, “We believe that we (the Jewish people) exist only because of the merit of Torah, since we stood at Mount Sinai. Without the Torah, we wouldn’t be here in Israel.” He slammed the coalition agreements for outrageously discriminating against the ultra-Orthodox, and said the plans for drafting the ultra-Orthodox have not been thought through properly and are unworkable…

From the podium, meanwhile, Shas’s Aryeh Deri was also sounding off bitterly — and his target was not only Netanyahu’s new partners, but also the prime minister himself. His party negotiated with Netanyahu’s representatives in good faith, Deri said, and would have been ready to agree to a significant increase in the number of yeshiva students being drafted. Unfortunately, it soon became clear that the goal of the coalition was to exclude the ultra-Orthodox.

“There’ll be no one there with a beard or a skullcap” to ruin the picture of the new government, taken at the President’s Residence after the swear-in. “Great achievement,” Deri said sarcastically. “Treasure the picture.”

Bitter, party of two!

27 comments on this post.
  1. Gregory in Seattle:

    “He slammed the coalition agreements for outrageously discriminating against the ultra-Orthodox.”

    Translation: WAHHHHHHH! We resent being treated like everyone else! We’re special! We’re priviledged! DON’T TREAT US LIKE EVERYONE ELSE!!!!1!!

  2. iangould:

    Shas, it should be pointed out, isn’t just a religious party.

    it’s also the only party representing the Sephardic minority who’ve been consistently discriminated against through most of Israel’s history.

  3. Trebuchet:

    So if everyone was ultra-orthodox like them, and thus exempted from military service, who’d defend the country? I’d say they’re the ones who haven’t thought this through.

  4. slc1:

    It should be pointed out that Aryeh Deri is a convicted criminal who served a jail term.

  5. slc1:

    Re Trebuchet @ #3

    That’s easy, Hashem (god). They seem to forget that god helps thems who helps themselves.

  6. lldayo:

    That’s what happens when Obama visits Israel, they become less religious. That proves he’s a Marxist, atheist, muslim, illegal immigrant, communist, nazi, socialist anti-christ.

  7. Gretchen:

    “There’ll be no one there with a beard or a skullcap” to ruin the picture of the new government, taken at the President’s Residence after the swear-in. “Great achievement,” Deri said sarcastically. “Treasure the picture.”

    Perhaps they should change their name to the Beard Party. Beards are great. Everybody likes beards!

    Skullcaps….eh, not so much.

  8. doublereed:

    Thank God.

  9. Draken:

    I’d rather keep orthodox fanatics out of the army and a long way away from any sort of weapons.

  10. iangould:

    Are people genuinely unaware of the quite real history of the attempt by Ashkenazi Jews to eliminate any Sephardic identity at all in Israel?

    Did you never read of the Sephardic children stolen from their parents and put up for adoption by Ahskenazic families?

    That the Sephardim choose to experss their identity via an explicitly religious party is regrettable (when , for example, they have a separate language, Ladino) but the historical context matters. Shas is essentially a protest vote against historic and ongoing discrimination.

  11. Ray Ingles:

    Without the Torah, we wouldn’t be here in Israel.

    Tru dat. Back when “Zionism” was getting started, there were serious attempts to set up – by purchase – a Jewish nation in South America. But that wasn’t in the Torah, so we got modern-day Israel. Yay.

  12. iangould:

    @11 See also Uganda,northern Australia, Alberta and various other places nobody else really wanted.

    After World War II , King Faisa of Saudi Arabia suggested a Jewish homeland to Sardinia.

  13. 2up2down:

    As many have noted, the issue here is pretty multi-dimensional, and the Sephardim-and-Mizrahim vs. Ashkenazim is probably more pronounced than any secular vs. religious conflict. Indeed, as the quoted part of the article states, the ethno-supremacist Yisrael Beiteinu’s truck with Netanyahu is increasing. The voice of Ashkenazi wingnuttery is by no means on the wane.

    But on many issues relevant to the lowest groups in Israeli society, Palestinian Arabs and Black Africans, there is absolutely no sign of progress. Some of the most dangerous religious wingnuts in Israel, settlers, have yet to meet any real resistance. The racism towards Africans (which includes calls to deport Sudanese refugees, and coercing Ethiopians to be injected with birth control shots so Black people don’t reproduce) continues unabated.

  14. vmanis1:

    On the other hand, during Obama’s speech in Jerusalem, when he spoke of acceptance and friendship towards Israel’s Palestinian brothers and sisters, he was cheered, and received standing ovations. Israel is a much more diverse society than we may appreciate.

    Historical note: when the State of Israel was proclaimed, many, though not all, of the ultra-Orthodox refused to recognize it.

  15. laurentweppe:

    Are people genuinely unaware of the quite real history of the attempt by Ashkenazi Jews to eliminate any Sephardic identity at all in Israel?

    Or the Mizrahi: to quote Sami Michael:

    There had been some expectation that after the Holocaust [...] great waves of migration from that Jewry which had suffered from the abominable crimes of Europe would flood into it. The disappointment was bitter among the veteran members of the ‘Old Yishuv‘ [...] European Jewry did not knock at the gates of the Jewish state. At the same time, in 1948, a wave of repression swept over the Jews in Arab countries in revenge for the defeat of their armies [...] Almost all the Jews in those countries streamed into the new state as refugees. In the view of the ‘Old Yishuv‘, these Jews were not very different from the defeated Arab enemy. They spoke its language, they had adopted their customs, they were dark-skinned like them, and they even gave their children Arabic names. The ‘Old Yishuv‘ regarded them as primitive and inferior, similar to the enemy they had overcome on the battlefield. The shock was enormous. An ‘Old Yishuv‘ leader expressed the frustration felt then by saying: The state was founded for one people, and another people came to settle in it.

  16. jba55:

    #13: “coercing Ethiopians to be injected with birth control shots so Black people don’t reproduce”

    Do you have a cite for that? If it’s accurate it’s absolutely appalling.

  17. 2up2down:

    I should have qualified that with the word “allegedly”, however, the allegation has gotten a lot more weight in the past few months, as some Israeli officials have nearly admitted to it, and others who had previously flatly denied it have been forced to walk back their earlier claims.

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/israeli-minister-appointing-team-to-probe-ethiopian-birth-control-shot-controversy-1.506266

    http://mondoweiss.net/2013/01/contraceptive-injections-ethiopian.html

    Allegedly, many Ethiopians were injected with Depo-Provera, told it was a vitamin shot or an innoculation, etc. The birthrate among Ethiopians in Israel was subsequently reduced by 50%.

  18. Ichthyic:

    “There’ll be no one there with a beard or a skullcap” to ruin the picture of the new government, taken at the President’s Residence after the swear-in. “Great achievement,” Deri said sarcastically. “Treasure the picture.”

    remove the “said sarcastically” part, and I find myself applauding the statement.

    I will indeed treasure that picture as a tiny beginning to the prospect of real peace in the region, given that the major hurdle preventing the palestinians finally agreeing to statehood rests in large part on the fact that the Israelis, driven heavily by the ultra-orthodox who claim rights (based on a false history printed in collection of fictional stories), are still building illegal housing in seized territories.

    maybe without the inane pressure from THEIR religious right, the new government can finally feel free to explore the issue of retracting this housing incursion, permanent boundaries can finally be drawn up, and statehood for Palestine become the reality it should have been over 30 years ago.

    OTOH, I’m probably dreaming that this could actually result in positive movement on that front.

  19. Ichthyic:

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/obama-visits-israel/obama-speech-leaves-israel-in-no-doubt-what-he-thinks-about-netanyahu.premium-1.511171

    Stop the settlements, stop the occupation, stop the deportations, stop the ongoing abuse of the Palestinians, and stop the settlers’ violence. Enough.

  20. laurentweppe:

    the major hurdle preventing the palestinians finally agreeing to statehood rests in large part on [...] the ultra-orthodox [...] still building illegal housing in seized territories.

    It’s more like the rich needed plebeans accomplices to demolish the social state without benig targeted by a revolution so they gave the setlements to the ultra-nationalists and ultra-religious in exchange for their support.

    If the ruling right-wing political is getting rid of the religious, it may be either that they have become superfluous or that the nationalists had become so hostile to the religious that a choice had to be made, but either way, the religious never were the ones really running the show.

  21. iangould:

    “…calls to deport Sudanese refugees…”

    Not just calls, around a thousand Sudanese were “voluntarily” returned in secret under circumstances which call into question whether they actually gave informed consent.,

  22. slc1:

    Re iangould @ #12

    Not to forget Adolf Eichmann’ s suggestion in 1935 that German Jews should be expelled to Madagascar, to be followed by the rest of European Jewry if and when the German armed forces were in a position to enforce it. Of course, the problem was that Great Britain controlled the Suez Canal, which meant that the Wehrmacht would either have to conquer Egypt, or defeat Great Britain in a war, in order to accomplish it.

  23. slc1:

    Re iangould @ #21

    Let’s not let Egypt off the hook here. Egyptian police and military forces in the Sinai have been killing refugees headed for the Israeli border for years, shooting them down without warning. There has been no change in that policy due to the replacement of Mubarak by Morsi.

    Oddly enough, the animosity between the Hamas Government in the Gaza Strip and the Egyptian Government has actually increased since the fall of Mubarak, despite the takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood.

  24. dingojack:

    SLC – Yes but are absolutely sure they’re not Israelis using stolen uniforms and identity papers?
    :) Dingo

  25. slc1:

    Re dingojack @ #24

    Apparently, dingo has been taking lessons from Don Williams in the propagation of conspiracy theories.

  26. dingojack:

    ’cause the Israeli government would never ever use stolen passports of citizens of other countries, as cover during covert ops*, oh no never.
    @@
    Dingo
    ——–
    * thus putting innocent persons at risk

  27. slc1:

    Re dingojack @ #26

    Looks like it’s the Hamas guys who are planning to manufacture fake Egyptian Army uniforms.

    http://www.timesofisrael.com/smuggled-cloth-gets-hamas-in-trouble-with-egypt-again/

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