A Great Article by Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer
The Left's hypocritical virtue-signaling over the Otzma Yehudit deal
The United States Democratic Party for a generation gave its highest honors to a racist, Jew-hater, Black-baiter named Robert F. Byrd. He was a Ku Klux Klan leader, the Exalted Cyclops, and even after he realized that he needed to withdraw from the KKK, he continued to be a racist who despised Blacks for their very skin color and who hated Jews and Israel. Yet he rose to be a major United States Senator.
To this day the “Byrd Rule” impacts how American budgets are passed. His name is spoken with reverence by liberal Democrats. When he finally was called back to his Maker to receive his just and fitting eternal reward, all the leaders of the Democratic Party were there to mourn at his funeral, including Obama, Joe Biden, Bill Clinton, and New York’s utterly unprincipled Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who changes policies and beliefs as fast as the newest survey poll is published. Others who shed all self-respect and attended this racist bigot’s funeral included Senators Chuck Schumer, Al Franken, and Chris Dodd.
Last year, the Democrats elevated Keith Ellison to the position of Deputy Chairman of the Democrat National Committee. Ellison is a Jew-hater, documented many times over. Here is a complete audio and transcript of a private fundraising event that Ellison addressed, unaware that his Jew-hate was being audio-recorded. Subsequently, he has gone on to be elected Minnesota Attorney-General, and his Congressional seat has been filled by an even more vicious and open Jew-hater, Ilhan Omar. Not only was she elected by a liberal Democrat district, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed her to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. And so it goes.
The Left in America and elsewhere operate with a shameless hypocrisy and inconsistency that knows no bounds.
In America, the same prominent liberals who oppose a wall on the southern border still surround their own homes with walls and barriers.
They oppose government vouchers for special private charter schools that offer real hope for the children of inner-city minority families, a chance for them to rise beyond the limits of failed public schools, but these same liberals send their own children to expensive private schools because they can afford them.
They complain about 1950s McCarthyism and Blacklists while they deny free speech to conservative voices whom they bar from campuses, and they hire only similar-thinking Leftists to academic social sciences departments, newsrooms, and entertainment jobs.
It often is said that if liberals did not live by double standards, they would have no standards at all.
The Left in America and Israel now is in a tizzy because the Religious Zionist Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party and their allied Ichud Leumi (National Union) party now have entered into a minor arrangement at the last minutes of the pre-election registration period with the Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party. Prime Minister Netanyahu has been sucked into the controversy because he helped broker the deal. The allegation is that the Otzma party is not worthy to be in the Knesset. Here are the realities for peope who are honest and fair:
An Israeli election is made up of Israelis. When there are two Jews, there are three opinions. This is a meme. When Israel’s first president, Chaim Weitzmann, first met with United States President Harry Truman, the latter said that he bore great responsibilities as President of 150 million people. Weitzmann responded, “Yes, but I am President of nearly a million Presidents.”
Thus, there now are 47 different political slates running for Knesset in the April 9 election. To keep some control on the insanity of narcissists who run slates with no chance to get elected, Israel has a rule that no party can enter the Knesset unless it obtains at least 3.25 percent of the total votes cast. Because the Knesset is comprised of 120 seats, any party that does meet that threshold stands in most cases to enter with four seats or more. That means that a party that wins enough votes for three seats — that is one-fortieth of the 120-seat Knesset, or approximately 2.5 percent of the vote — does not get in. All three seats it seemed to earn thus are lost and wasted. All those votes are thrown into the trash and do not count.
With Israeli media conducting regular survey polling, it became clear that Jewish Home might attract three percent of the vote, maybe more and maybe not. Although that tally represents three or four seats, all those votes would be wasted and lost if the tally fell a bit short of 3.25 percent. Otzma was polling at more than two percent, too, standing to win enough votes for two or three seats — but also standing ultimately to waste all of them because they might fall short of 3.25 percent.
Together, then, Jewish Home and Otzma could attract more than six percent of the vote — that is seven or eight seats. By contrast, if they run separately, all those seven and eight seats could be lost to the paper shredder.
Polls show that a coalition of the nationalist-leaning Likud with the even more dependably nationalist “New Right” party of Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, and leading opinion maker and journalist Caroline Glick, along with alliances that include the Jewish Home grouping, Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party (if he exceeds the threshold), Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beyteinu (Israel Is Our Home) party, the Ashkenazic Orthodox Agudat Israel (United Torah Judaism) party, and the Orthodox Sephardic Shas party — all that can emerge with a total coalition of 61-64 Knesset seats. That coalition would be enough to continue Israel on her decade-long path towards a more traditional, politically and socially conservative, religiously sensitive path.
If the Jewish Home and Otzma parties each run separately, garnering in the aggregate some six percent of the vote but each scoring below 3.25 percent, then their seven or eight seats could be lost — and the religious-nationalist coalition of 61-64 seats instead could falls to 54-58 Knesset seats in a 120-seat Knesset, just a bit too few to govern. (All these data assume that Moshe Feiglin’s right-wing Zehut (Identity) party and Rav Eli Yishai’s Orthodox Yachad (Together) party each will fail to reach the 3.25 percent threshold, although each will attract one percent or more of the ballots, enough votes otherwise to comprise one or two more religious-nationalist seats apiece, thus probably costing the religious-right camp two seats that will be completely wasted and lost.)
So that is what is on the table: Either Jewish Home and Otzma merge for the election, saving and assuring a continuing religious-right Government, or they run alone, handing the Government to the Left even though the Left will have received fewer votes and thus would reflect the minority.
The Israeli religious-right already experimented with fracturing itself into a million points of light once before, and that 1992 electoral disaster ended up costing the majority as several small parties each failed to meet the threshold, wasted the votes, and thus enabled Rabin to get into power and to stick Israel with its worst catastrophe since the early days of the 1973 Yom Kippur War: the disastrous 1994 Oslo Catastrophe. In 1992,
Geula Cohen’s right-wing Tehiya party fell just short of the 1.5 percent cut-off that existed then, wasting 31,957 votes and two seats. Similarly, the New Liberal Party of Yitzchak Moda’i broke off from the Likud, received 16,669 votes — all down the drain. Eliezer Mizrachi’s Haredi Geulat Yisrael party got 12,851 votes — down the drain. Rav Moshe Levenger of Kiryat Arba created his Torah Ve-Aretz party that received 3,708 votes — down the drain. Those wasted 65,185 votes qualified for more than three seats in the 13th Knesset, but they all were wasted. With those three seats lost, the religious-nationalist coalition reached 59 seats (Likud-32; Tzomet-8; National Religious Party/Mafdal-6; Shas-6; United Torah Judaism-4; Moledet-3) instead of 62. Therefore, Rabin [barely] took power and brought about catastrophe. That must not happen again.
The screaming and yelling by the critics of the Bayit Yehudi-National Union deal with Otzma is not about Otzma. In its American iteration, it is coming from secular Jewish Democrat Obama Liberals in the United States who are tired of seeing that the people of Israel prefer a religious-nationalist direction.
The intermarriage rate in America among non-Orthodox Jews now is at 71 percent. Their children — including the children of the leaders of the secular American Jewish groups — are intermarrying and disappearing. More than half of all Reform Jewish households now are intermarried. They are Obama Democrats, are not primarily focused on Jewish destiny, and they hate seeing a Prime Minister of Israel who is a strong enough Jew that he would address Congress directly and fight the disastrous Iran Deal despite the ire of Obama.
But Obama has passed like withering grass and a passing breeze. That speech by Prime Minister Netanyahu may not have won that day, but Bibi planted the seeds that took root and blossomed as America soon after rejecting Obama’s course and elected a new Government that indeed promptly abandoned the Iran Deal, even as it moved the American Israel embassy to Jerusalem and changed history by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
These same secular liberal Jewish leaders cowered and shivered when President Trump moved the embassy; they were terrified. They hate Bibi for exposing the anti-Israel animus of Obama and Kerry, further exposed when Obama and Kerry would not veto the last Security Council attack on Israel just before the two of them exited history. And they hate that the Prime Minister gets along so well with President Trump, whom they and their assimilated children cannot stand — although the religious-nationalist Jewish community of America stands solidly among President Trump’s strongest supporters.
The Israeli Central Elections Commission knows how to ban a political party it deems to be outside the pale. Thus, rightly or wrongly, it banned Rav Meir Kahane’s party in 1988. By contrast, the Otzma party was permitted to run in 2013, 2015, and again in 2019. In Israel, a fair process has determined that Otzma is a legitimate party, even if it pushes the envelope.
Those attacking the recent pre-election agreement know very little about the internal dealings, the Central Elections Commission process, and the phenomenon of votes wasted on narcissist parties that fail to reach the 3.25 percent threshold, ultimately denying the will of the electorate.
For me personally, Otzma is not my flavor. I am somewhere between Bayit Yehudi and Bennett-Shaked-Glick’s New Right. But it would be unconscionable for a recurrence of the 1992 splinterings to turn away Israel’s course from the religious-nationalist direction sought by the majority of its population. After the elections, when the thresholds have been met, Otzma and Jewish Home promptly will divorce or even annul their marriage of convenience, and life will proceed. Iran will continue trying to embed itself in Syria, and Hezbollah will continue planning for war in the north, as will Hamas in the south. America will be withdrawing from Syria, and we all may need to prepare, in Israel and in America, to fight a bad Mideast “peace plan” if one emerges.
At such a time, the survival of Israel, which ultimately is for G-d to direct and not for people, will be enhanced by a strong Government that stands with nationalist and conservative purpose and strength, underpinned by a commitment to Torah values. The majority of Israelis know this, and the votes of the majority must not be wasted.
This is not a time for a bunch of politically untested ex-generals, whose actual political positions are not even known, to experiment in an area outside their experience. Israel tried that with Rabin and got Oslo.
This is not a time for a bunch of politically untested ex-generals, whose actual political positions are not even known, to experiment in an area outside their experience. Israel tried that with Rabin, and he left Israel with Oslo’s curse. Israel TTtried it again with another general, Ehud Barak (who called himself “Mister Security”), and he left Israel with the Intifada he could not fathom or control and with a unilateral retreat from South Lebanon that created the political vacuum filled by the Hezbollah nightmare in the north. Even General Sharon, a hero in war, did not know how to make peace politically with strength, and his myopic unilateral retreat from Gaza resulted in another vacuum, now filled by Hamas in the south.
This is no time for war games and for experimenting with generals who may know how to fight but have not demonstrated under calmer and safer conditions that they grasp how to make peace with strength.
And if 1994 Oslo taught us anything, it taught us that the 1992 election-splintering disaster must never happen again.