Oración concerniente a los líderes de Israel
It’s been about three weeks since Israel’s elections took place. The news is nonstop coverage about the demands the different parties are making (for specific roles in the government) in return for their participation in the coalition. This part of the process has been where things have fallen apart in the past.
It’s no secret the “left” in Israel took a serious hit in these recent elections and the right came out on top. But as I explained in the Maoz Israel Report this month, political “right” and “left” in Israel are not a simple and clear cut good and bad.
Political parties and their leaders may hold to a Biblical-leaning platform but the way they act out their beliefs can be controversial at best, and criminal at worst. They can also be very hostile to Jewish believers and very dismissive of the secular Jewish population—which makes up more than 45% of Israeli society.
Such contradictions are on full display in the person of Itamar Ben-Gvir, the leader of the Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Strength) faction within the Religious Zionist Party. His wife made headlines this past week as she came to an intimate gathering of the wives of the new coalition leaders—with a loaded gun. Since they live in a settlement and regularly drive perilous roads frequently attacked by Palestinian terrorists, bringing her gun was clearly both a necessity—and a statement. According to Channel 12 News, one of the top-tier leaders of Lahava, (the radical Zionist group Ben Gvir is associated with and helps fund) earned his “credentials” by setting fire to our kids’ school a decade ago because it educated both Jews and Arabs.
Ben-Gvir, a lawyer by training, has been participating in street demonstrations against government policies he disagreed with since he was a teenager. These activities, which included several encounters with police resulting in Ben-Gvir being arrested, caused the IDF to reject him from being drafted when he was 18.
Now, the 46-year-old Ben-Gvir is demanding to become Israel’s next Minister of Public Security, a post which ironically, would give him authority over the very Israeli police department with which he has had so many unhappy experiences. The implications of this appointment are significant enough that the U.S. ambassador to Israel issued a rare and not-so-veiled warning, encouraging sobriety in the decision-making process.
Before negotiations to enter the coalition to be led by incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have formally begun, Ben-Gvir has publicly declared some of the demands he is making in order to agree to join that coalition. Of concern for many Israeli believers, they include a demand to amend the «Law of Return» by eliminating the so-called «grandparent clause» which allows any person with at least one Jewish grandparent to make Aliyah (immigrate) to Israel. Since this law was enacted using the same standard Hitler used to identify Jews, this demand has obviously been strongly denounced by many Diaspora Jewish communities and leaders, as well as some Likud MKs.
However, as unsettling as Ben-Gvir’s rhetoric is for many Israelis, including many who voted for Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, it is not as unsettling as the demand made by Ben-Gvir’s close political ally, Bezalel Smotrich, to be the Minister of Defense. Despite being only 42 years old (the average age of IDF generals is at least ten years older) and having served a mere 14 months in a non-combat role during his abbreviated term of national service, Smotrich has said that he thinks he’s ready to take on the role.
Just one aspect of these decisions has already been laid out on the table. One of his first priorities, according to his own statements, will be to put the brakes on the progress women have made in the Israeli military. Common Israeli belief is that while no woman should be appointed to a position simply to be able to say “a woman has been appointed”—no woman should be exempt from such a role for the same reason. I remember several years ago when one of the leading papers highlighted the woman who headed up the Iron Dome division at the time. She was nine months pregnant and had no problem growing a human and directing missiles to be shot out of the sky at the same time.
Still, in 2018, when for the first time a woman was appointed to be the commander of an air force squadron, Smotrich declared his belief that “There are positions suitable for men … and positions suitable for women … that is how God created the world and that is what is good for the world.”
Other potential partners for the incoming governing coalition have also made demands that have raised eyebrows in the Diaspora Jewish community and even among some of Israel’s closest friends and allies in the U.S. and Europe.
For instance, Shas chair MK Aryeh Deri, who served 22 months in prison after having been convicted of fraud, breach of trust, and bribery in 1999 while serving as Interior Minister and resigned from the Knesset again less than a year ago as part of a plea agreement with authorities to avoid another prison sentence for tax offenses, has reportedly informed Netanyahu that he would like to be Finance Minister. One of his first stated missions will be to double the amount of permanent welfare ultra-Orthodox men receive who don’t work but study rabbinical writings in Yeshivas all day.
At a ceremony on Sunday when Netanyahu received the formal mandate to form a governing coalition from President Isaac Herzog, he appeared unfazed by the many challenges ahead. For sure, he’s been in this place before.
- Father, You are the ultimate authority. You appoint kings and governments to rule on the earth. None are allowed to rule without Your permission.
- In Your sovereignty, cause the new governing coalition in Israel to bring honor to Your name.
- May there be amity and cohesion within the incoming coalition so the government may be stable and not require yet another election.
- Grant Netanyahu the wisdom and vision in forming this incoming coalition and that those who look to join it will have wisdom, as well as humility, as they set their own conditions for joining a governing coalition.
- We ask that the right people be appointed to the ministries so that the people of Israel may live lives of peace, tranquility, and prosperity.
- Forbid government appointments that would spark unnecessary chaos in the Land.
- Forbid any hindrance to those whom You have inspired to make Aliyah to Israel.
- Defend the Body in Israel, as some conspire against them and their freedoms in places of government.
- We ask that the opposition parties find ways to benefit that nation even if it be from the sidelines.
- May Israelis take responsibility for their lives and their families and not rely solely on politics to solve their problems.
- We are thankful for Your plan which has thought through every scenario and every result. You will be recognized by the world as the sovereign that You are. You had the first word, and You will have the last.