For those who hate Israel, the new government under Benjamin Netanyahu is like another confirmation of their suspicions. Israel has long been accused abroad of being a fascist country, but recent statements by its coalition partners only add fuel to the fire against Israel.
There are many reasons to hate Israel – and it has nothing to do with Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to power. The Jewish settlement policy in the so-called occupied territories, the separation wall, the Israeli occupation forces, the discrimination against the Palestinians and much more have already stirred up enough hatred.
Now, when his religious coalition partners Simcha Rothmann and Orit Strock suggested that Israeli laws could be changed based on Jewish sentiments, Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu felt compelled to publicly put out the fire. “No, I will not allow such a thing,” Netanyahu stressed.
Background: Rothmann is a legal expert and has stated that a hotel should not be forced to accommodate guests with different sexual orientations. This view sparked outrage, to which he responded, “This is professional freedom, and a person has the right to be rude to his customer, whether he forbids him or not. That’s the meaning of freedom.”
By his logic, even a hotel owner who hates settlers may not allow settlers to stay at his hotel. In that case, anyone can choose a race they don’t want to host. It could go so far that Arab hotels in Jerusalem, Jaffa, and Galilee would put a sign on the door of their hotel, “Jews not welcome.” Could such racism be protected by law?
The point is that homosexuality is strictly forbidden according to the Bible, and the religious lawyer sees God’s commandments as higher than human laws. “You shall not lay with a man as one lay with a woman, for it is an abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22)
Jew, settler, and Arab do not biblically constitute a prohibition as such.
In the same vein of thinking, party colleague Orit Strock made dramatic national headlines when she suggested that a religious Jewish doctor should be allowed to refuse to treat a non-Jew on the holy Shabbat. According to Strock, the treatment violates a religious doctor’s religious beliefs. Accordingly, however, an Arab doctor could also take the liberty of not treating Zionists simply because they “conquered the land of their forefathers.” Today, nearly 50 percent of doctors in Israeli hospitals are Arabs. What happens if everyone is free to choose to treat only those they like?
Strock bases her idea on biblical principles that Jewish doctors are not allowed to treat non-Jews on Shabbat, but Jews are. Leviticus 18:5 says, “You shall keep my laws and my statutes, for he who does them shall live. I am the LORD!” God prescribed these commandments and rights for the nation of Israel, so from the Orthodox perspective, “by this you shall live” applies to Jewish souls and not to Gentile souls.
If that doesn’t even make sense to the majority of the Jewish population in the country, how can we expect people abroad to understand such views?
Is the first coalition crisis already brewing with an internal clash of Biblical and liberal values?
The sticking point in the new situation with the incoming coalition government is Benjamin Netanyahu’s choice of Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana (46). He will be the first gay Speaker of the Knesset in the Israeli parliament and will have to contend with his Orthodox allies in the coalition. How, we shall see. So far, none of the religious coalition partners has voiced criticism of Ohana, who lives with his spouse, Alon. Together they have a son and a daughter through surrogacy.
So far, Ohana has not even spoken out to his pious colleagues, who have been fiercely critical of Israeli liberalism, which Ohana represents more than anyone else in the right-wing to ultra-Orthodox coalition. Not even when the Israeli media published the secret list of LGBTQ members compiled by religious party leader Avi Maoz. Now Maoz will have to serve in the Knesset under a homosexual! Benjamin Netanyahu appreciates Amir Ohana more than others, and that is why he put him in office.
The new coalition government being inaugurated any moment will be a social and spiritual challenge for the Knesset and the people of Zion.
Biblical and liberal values will clash more than usual in the upcoming Knesset and in quite a few areas among the people. The Israel haters will now have one more reason to hate Israel. That’s all. We have to cope with the new situation, and it will not be easy.
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