Reuniting the National Religious parties

Mafdal-Ichud LeumiI don’t normally write about local Israeli politics here, but this article in today’s Yisrael Hayom, “Withering Heights” by Amiad Taub, hit so close to my heart that I cannot ignore it.  I don’t intend this to be a party political broadcast (OK, perhaps I do) but I think it is essential reading for national religious citizens.

The article addresses the apathy in the National Religious Zionist political camp (in my opinion caused by the split between the NRP and Ichud Leumi) which has brought nothing but a dramatic fall in Knesset seats in the last couple of elections, a consequent loss of political power and effective political defeat for a a huge, politically active and economically and socially contributing section of Israeli society.

Here are some excerpts, and I have highlighted the parts that I think are the salient points, but I urge you to read it all and get active!

This week, the garden will begin slowly filling up with small and large seeds. Tiny elementary school-age seeds will begin marching toward the national-religious flowerbed, as will idealistic high school-age flowers, full of convictions.

For several years now, our educational flowerbed has been drying up. The political power driving religious Zionism has been dying out, and the results on the ground are palpable. If anyone thinks that the two things are unrelated, and that other parties will also ensure the quality of our educational system, they are wrong. The high tuition at Zionist religious institutions, the encroachment of unacceptable phenomena like drug use and alcohol abuse, the separatist attitudes and the immensely high cost of supplemental educational programs (like afternoon programs for preschoolers) — all these are signs that our flowers are dying, and they are a direct result of a dwindling political presence.

[...]

Over the years, the National Religious Party has taken the time and effort to establish, plant and nurture glorious educational flowerbeds — starting from the national religious education system, the yeshivot and ulpanot (religious schools for boys and girls respectively), through the Bnei Akiva youth movement, educational colleges, Bar-Ilan University all the way to the hesder yeshivot (which incorporate Torah study with active military duty), pre-military preparatory courses, religious military programs, national service and more. But the party is teetering on the edge of the precipice, politically speaking, causing our remarkable flowerbed to dry out.

The ungrateful attitude toward the national-religious political arena, which, despite its negative reputation, was the force behind the educational flowerbeds that brought us all up, is endangering all of us and creating the false impression that the beautiful, value-driven flowers that have blossomed here do not need a national-religious gardener.

There is a direct causal link between the decreasing number of national-religious representatives in the Knesset and the rising cost and declining quality of religious education in Israel. No other party will nurture this flowerbed the way its own national-religious flock would. If we fail to realize this now, we will all be soon faced with a broken system that isn’t capable of nurturing our children.

As of now, it doesn’t really matter which gardener parents choose to water their flowers, or what kind of flowers each parent chooses to raise. Soon enough we will be able to choose between the different gardeners — either the New National Religious Party or the National Union — in the next election. But for now, the most important thing is to understand that to provide our flowers with a strong steady flow of water and enough sunlight, we have to take part in building the central political watering system. It is only in the political arena that decisions are made on the character and type of education offered to Israel’s children as a whole and to national religious children in particular.

The time has come to look out for the welfare of our flowers, because the flowerbed, much like Israel’s water supply, is drying up.

At the same time as I was reading the above article, a request to participate in an internet survey landed in my inbox. I don’t usually bother to get involved in these surveys, but this one caught my interest. It is very short and simply asks if you think the two national religious parties, the Mafdal (National Religious Party, or Habayit Hayehudi – Jewish Home – in its latest incarnation, and the Ichud Leumi – National Union – should rejoin forces once more and form a single party.  I’m not embarrassed to inform you that I think a reunited party will be the best thing for the National Religious public, for all the reasons set out in the article and in my introduction at the beginning of this post.

If you’re interested in taking the survey, click here.

One can register to receive more information about this campaign at this link here (apparently run by Arutz Sheva).

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7 Responses to Reuniting the National Religious parties

  1. reality says:

    about time someone talked sense.People are fed up with the petty infighting which resulted in loss of votes as people voted Likud or yisrael beiteinu.Also 2 small parties will never be able to do anything in knesset, we need one large party with a strong leader at its helm(another problem as neither party has one)

  2. anneinpt says:

    You’re absolutely right about not having a strong leader in either party. I didn’t address that in the post becuase I didn’t know where to even begin.

  3. Andrea says:

    Religious party is not part of my knowledge in spite of fact that re birth of political parties inspired by religion in the world is of course the stunning phenomenon in our contemporary history. So shame on me and desire to fill the lack ….(I have been living for years under gov. directed by party inspired by religion and maybe this could be a reason ).
    Before approaching israeli religious parties ( they are not only on the Right, are they ? ) I have still an issue on my “Israeli agenda ” and it is Jabotinsky and his legacy with the culture of my country.
    Altalena was the name he choose when he spent many years in Italy ( yes the same he baptized the famous ship ) and he wrote novels and articles in that country ( he was the most litterate among Jewish politicians of his time ).
    coming to the point : could someone help me on this ? where can I find reliable source on Jabo ideology and cultural view? israeli sources are welcome as well -better if translated into western languages.
    I know – I could google but a lot of not reliable info will come up.

    Sorry for out of topic

    • anneinpt says:

      Hello Andrea, you covered a lot of topics in one short comment!

      Firstly about the religious parties: nowadays they are all on the right more or less. In the old days, the National Religious Party (the modern-Orthodox, knitted-kipa types) would happily make a coalition with Labour. It was even called “the historic partnership”. The ultra-Orthodox (black hats) would sit in any coalition but always refused an actual ministry.

      From the late 70s with the fall of the left after the Yom Kippur War, and the rise of the Likud under Begin in 1977, the left became more extreme, culminating in Oslo, while the right also drifted more rightwards. The NRP found a more natural partner in the Likud, especially regarding settlements etc. But the ultra-Orthodox remained quite dovish on security issues. That has also changed since the 2nd Intifada.

      Israeli religious parties are not intended to force people to become more religious but more to represent the interests of religious people, e.g. getting funds for religious schools and yeshivas, food subsidies, cheap housing for large families etc.

      And now to your main question, about Jabotinsky and his heritage. You could try looking at the Jabotinsky Institutes’s website although the English page doesn’t seem to have too much material on it.

      The Begin Center’s website might also have material on Jabotinsky although I haven’t looked through the site.

    • anneinpt says:

      Here is some more reading material, articles and books about or by Jabotinsky himself. They are all from reliable websites:

      Biography of Jabotinsky

      biography from Betar Youth site

      bio from Likud-Herut UK website

      The Five, a book by Jabotinsky about Turn of the Century Odessa

      The Iron Wall by Jabotinsky, 1923

      Jabotinsky and Revisionist Zionim

      I hope this all helps you and gives you some insight into such a great man.

      • Andrea says:

        Excellent – I am impressed :-)

        Many thanks for your help. I will work on Jabotinsky experience in Italy ( rather controversial point since Israeli historians still arguing on influence that Fascism had on him ; point I am afraid is a bit misrepresented and not only in Israel ) but good links like the ones you gave me will help me with a global view and in depth in the same time.

        I will let you know about my results – i have to put in order in my agenda of homeworks
        first thing research on Jewish exodus from Italy ( the “Exodus an other vessels affair in 1946-1947 “) – almost completed
        secondly Jabotinsky and Italian culture and finally I will try to understand religious parties .
        I am seriously thinking to take a degree in history of Israel ( even I guess you do not need another historians since you have tons of them )

        • anneinpt says:

          Andrea, you put me to shame. I think you know more about modern Israeli history than I do. Seriously. I’d be very interested to hear about your research and findings about Jewish Italian history.

          And I think you’d make an excellent historian. I don’t think we have that many, certainly not enough unbiased ones.

          If you’re interested in Israeli history you should take a look at Yakov Lozowick’s blog. He used to run a regular blog: Yaacov Lozowick’s Ruminations but when he was appointed as Chief Archivist of Israel, he gave up his regular blog and writes just occasionally at Yaacov Lozowick’s Workshop. Take a look at his “about” page – you will be impressed I’m sure. By the way his very first post on this blog was a cross-post from me. :-)

          Yaacov has also started another blog connected with his present job, Israel’s Documented Story which I think you will find fascinating. He really is worth a daily read if you are interested in Israeli history.

          I wish you luck whichever path you choose.

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