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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Do you really think they would care?

In an Arutz 7 interview, Rabbi Ratzon Arusi, a well-known member of the Chief Rabbinic Council in Israel has stated that certain "red lines" must be demarcated in the battle with the Israeli Supreme Court over various aspects of Israeli society.
Rabbi Arusi is of the opinion that, "we have reached a point at which we must set a red line, and say that if the State of Israel crosses it, the entire religious community will resign from the Knesset. This will truly shake the foundations, even of secular society."
What has yanked Rabbi Arusi's chain?
"The rabbi says that of late there have been several instances that are bringing the said "red line" closer. He named the following:

The Disengagement Plan - which "passed in the Knesset by a formal majority which merely masked the deception on which it was based."

The objections to the Tal Law, which regulates the army exemptions of yeshiva students, but which is still being challenged in the courts and facing public attack. "The secular public doesn't realize that this law deals with a gradual process; they want 'now.' This causes tensions, and could lead to an explosion. Instead of allowing the process to take its course and enable yeshiva students to find their place in society, they push and push, causing the hareidi-religious world's antagonism to increase."

The collapse of official religious institutions. "They did away with the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and didn't establish an alternative. The mikvaot [ritual baths], kashrut, and yeshivot are in mortal danger."'
I certainly understand his frustration, but it seems to me that an act of mass resignation of all the religious MKs would be a declaration that the religious parties have come to the realization that there is no chance of them having any significant effect on Israeli society. It would not "truly shake the foundations", but merely verify an opinion that I have held for a long time. Namely, that it is an axiomatic building block of Medinat Yisrael that the religious sector have no say in what goes on in Israel on a national level.
Many times people call for massive Aliyah of the religious from the West so as to affect change in Israel. While I do think that, since moving to Eretz Yisrael is a Mitzvah, it should be encouraged where feasible, I absolutely do not buy the above rationale for doing so. I truly believe that the Israeli establishment would rather hand over the reigns of power to a moderate Arab than a religious Jew. If there would be a massive wave of religious Aliyah, which actually threatened the secular hegemony, one of two things would happen:
a) The Supreme Court would find some grounds for disqualification of the religious parties, as being theocratic or some other trumped-up allegation.
b) The government would import another few hundred thousand Russian immigrants, or grant citizenship to foreign workers, or some other demographic reshifting to tip the scales in their favor.
In fact, the Israeli media would make merry, and the oligarchs would orgy, as the need to contend with the number one competing vision for the national identity would all but vanish, by the religious parties exiting the Knesset stage left.
Better to be a thorn in their side than a rose on your own grave.

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