Tachles: A modern Hebrew word of Yiddish origin that means “to the point.”
Sometimes I get the impression that our readers do not really understand the situation of Israel’s politics. What kind of Knesset was elected and what kind of governing coalition has grown out of it?
It’s possible to glean from the media that we now have a right-wing religious government. That sounds foreign and very Jewish to you. Some are praising Israel’s right-wing religious coalition because it brought Benjamin Netanyahu back to power, others are afraid of it.
- Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud got 32 Knesset seats
- The Religious Zionist Party headed by Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir controls 14
- The Orthodox Shas Party of Aryeh Deri has 11
- The ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism got 7 seats
That’s 64 Knesset seats for the coalition out of 120. Over half of the coalition members are religious Jews! Sixteen of the 30 ministers in the government are either religious or Orthodox Jews!
Now I would also like to introduce Israel’s new government in a Christian style so that you can understand what’s going on in Jerusalem.
Imagine, in one of the European countries, a right-wing party receives a mandate from the president to form a coalition. Not only that, the majority of the people voted more for the right-wing and religious parties. A knockout for the left, like in Israel. Now, the leader of the big party forms a coalition and invites 14 representatives from the evangelical and charismatic churches to the cabinet table. These are to be compared with the religious settlers and Zionists, who in certain ways have a similar lively style of faith to the Christians mentioned.
Another parallel could be drawn between the Orthodox Shas party and the Methodists, Anglicans or other strict religious communities. Eleven representatives from these circles come to the cabinet table.
And the last seven ultra-Orthodox members of the Knesset can be compared to representatives of the Orthodox Church or Catholics.
A right-wing Christian coalition, ranging from religious nationalists to devout pietists to Orthodox stalwarts, are now governing Switzerland or Germany, Austria or any other Christian country in Europe. In addition, 16 of the 30 ministers in the government are dedicated, practicing Christians, including, for example, Catholic clerics with close ties to the Vatican. In theory, they would be able to pass religious laws. But that is less possible in Europe today, because religion and politics have separated. Not so in Israel. In the Holy Land, religion and politics work hand-in-hand, but not always in “perfect harmony.”
Not only that, the Speaker of Knesset, who can be compared to the President of the German Bundestag or the Speaker of the House in the US, is openly homosexual. Even so, he was unanimously elected to this position by the devout right-wing Christians in the cabinet. He introduces his husband to the assembled lawmakers, and the devout Christians hide their faces in disgrace, even though just a few hours earlier they had agreed to elevate him to this role. Two days later, the church fathers and pastors wake up and criticize the advancement of a gay politician. A paradoxical and bizarre government coalition.
And this is the situation in which the Jewish state finds itself. In Israel, the people are fundamentally more religious and so they chose a faith-based government. The promises of the Bible play an important role in politics. Israel must defend the promise of the Bible. And those who express this more than anyone else in the country are the right-wing and religious Jews, the majority of the people.
Israel’s existence is based on biblical values and ideas, which is evident throughout the election campaigns. At the same time, Israel is also signaling liberalism. According to foreign media, Tel Aviv has for years had the reputation of being the most gay-friendly city in the world. Israel is a country where holiness and liberalism coexist. This is not always possible, and according to biblical standards, liberalism as we understand it today is a sin. But Israel is Israel, for good and for bad. A light for the nations, as we like to emphasize!
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