Orthodox vs Religious Zionist Jews

A look at the biblical rift at the heart of the internal divisions that pose the biggest threat to Netanyahu’s government.

| Topics: Orthodox Jews, Benjamin Netanyahu
Messianic-minded Jews like Itamar Ben-Gvir find little love even among Israel's rabbinic establishment. Photo: David Cohen/Flash90
Messianic-minded Jews like Itamar Ben-Gvir find little love even among Israel's rabbinic establishment. Photo: David Cohen/Flash90

Benjamin Netanyahu’s firm right-wing majority coalition is unlikely to be taken down by a left-wing “resistance” (which some would call an attempted coup). It’s about the most homogenous government Israel’s ever had from a political and ideological perspective, with few chinks in its armor.

But it could fall apart from within.

And this will have everything to do with the disparate biblical viewpoints of the religious parties in the coalition’s ranks.

Ultra-Orthodox parties have reportedly asked Benny Gantz and his National Unity party to join Netanyahu’s coalition to provide “balance.”

What do they mean by “balance”?

This highlights an important phenomenon in Israeli politics:

Ultra-Orthodox parties are largely focused on their particular stream of Judaism and bolstering their particular religious community. So long as the government they’re a part of, and they’ll join either left- or right-wing governments, provides the money they request for their yeshivas and maintains the status quo of rabbinical oversight, they’ll be loyal coalition partners.

Religious Zionist parties have a more “prophetic” outlook. They’re on a mission. And many of their proposed policies are geared toward advancing the “redemption” of Israel as a whole. For this reason, the Religious Zionists are often referred to in Israeli media as “messianic” – and not in a complimentary way – because they are working toward the “messianic age.”

Ultra-Orthodox officials oppose this approach, believing that God alone will bring about the messianic age without human involvement. And so they are just as likely as the left to see Bezalel Smotrich, Itamar Ben-Gvir and the Religious Zionism party as radical extremists who have no place governing a modern Jewish state.

They’d rather align with progressive elements like Gantz who will give the ultra-Orthodox their little corner of the country, than partner with messianic-minded “fools” who think we are living in the end times, and are trying to enact government policy based on that belief.

It’s hidden behind the scenes, but this biblical rift is at the heart of the internal divisions that pose the biggest threat to the stability of Netanyahu’s government.

Members

Israel Today Membership

Read all member content. Access exclusive, in-depth reports from Israel! Free Zoom events. Connect with Israel right from your home! Raise a voice of truth and hope. Support Faith-based journalism in Jerusalem!

Monthly
Membership

$5
/ month
Full access to Israel Today's Member-only content on all Digital Platforms.
Become a Member

Yearly
Membership

$46
/ year
Full access to Israel Today's Member-only content on all Digital Platforms.
Save 18% Per Month.
Become a Member

Six Months
Membership

$28
every 6 months
Full access to Israel Today's Member-only content on all Digital Platforms.
Save 9% Per Month.
Become a Member

2 responses to “Orthodox vs Religious Zionist Jews”

  1. Disciple 1978 says:

    You’ll appreciate that it’s difficult for non-Jews to understand the difference. Both practice a Judaism that rejected Yeshua and was built instead on rabbinic principles. Jews are familiar with these principles but they cloud /obscure both biblical directions and their messianic fulfilment in Yeshua. The term “messianic” is being abused in the same way “born again” was when we heard of the likes of born-again golfers. Using messianic to refer to anything other than the Messiah could be regarded as taking the name of the Lord in vain.
    It may be time for Messianic Jews to agree with the Ultra-Orthodox the correct application of the term messianic to prevent Religious Zionists misusing it. Messiah is a person, He is Immanuel, God with us. The messianic age is the one where we experience His personal rule. “And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD.” Isaiah 59:20. Israel needs to be open to this Messiah.

  2. Taylor Sealy says:

    Thanks for this clarification of some of Israel’s complicated politics.

Leave a Reply

Israel Today Newsletter

Daily news

FREE to your inbox

Israel Heute Newsletter

Tägliche Nachrichten

KOSTENLOS in Ihrer Inbox

Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter