Israel's 'majority' wants a Jewish state, not religious theocracy

Opinion: Those who voted for Netanyahu and his Likud party in November 1 elections, want them to protect the values of Judaism, not create a whole new ultra-Orthodox state, led by homophobes promoting extremist views

Ben-Dror Yemini|
The right-wing religious bloc of the emerging coalition government is pointing to the "majority," with the help of which they were elected as means to silence public resistance to its upcoming reforms.
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  • If the public chose a right-wing government, that's what they'll get, they claim. No more right-wingers who become centrist upon entering the Knesset.
    4 View gallery
    Benjamin Netanyahu (center) with leaders of incoming coalition factions
    Benjamin Netanyahu (center) with leaders of incoming coalition factions
    Benjamin Netanyahu (center) with leaders of incoming coalition factions
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky, Hadar Yoavian, Shaul Golan, Knesset PR)
    This all sounds reasonable. They were democratically elected indeed, thus they have a right to call the shots, according to their own agendas. However, is their majority pitch actually a myth?
    The majority elected officials who they believed will protect the Jewish state, not create a bi-national one, split into two entities.
    The decision to put Bezalel Smotrich - a supporter of "the Land of Israel" from the Jordan River to the sea - in charge of the civil administration and influence the appointment of the IDF's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories of the West Bank, marks a step toward turning the IDF into a political body.
    This is a direct blow to the IDF chief of staff and defense minister, and it hands a huge advantage to the phenomenon of soldiers refusing to be deployed to the West Bank.
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    בצלאל סמוטריץ'
    בצלאל סמוטריץ'
    Religious Zionist Party Chairman Bezalel Smotrich
    (Photo: Avi Mualem)
    Netanyahu, have you gone mad? Do you really not understand what you're doing? You are single-handedly reinforcing the anti-Zioinst bloc. You know this is against the national interest considering how sensitive this topic is to the outside world, especially the United States.
    The majority elected you not so you would turn Israel into an ultra-Orthodox, religious theocracy.
    Furthermore, by granting the far-right Orthodox Noam party control to make key decisions in the education system, Netanyahu has violated the democratic principles of Israel. Avi Maoz, leader of Noam and an outright homophobe, was even considered ill-suited by the Religious Zionist Party he used to belong to. Automatically, reforms imposed by such a disliked figure will become void and foul, and ignite backlash.
    This, by no means, reflects the majority's interests.
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    אבי מעוז
    אבי מעוז
    Avi Maoz
    (Photo: Amit Shabi)
    The majority's choice was Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud party. The majority, made up of a large percentage of right-wing voters, did not choose ultra-Orthodox coercion, and certainly did not choose key educational issues to be decided on by the most extreme representative of the coalition.
    The prime minister-designate on Monday tried to calm the public's outcries, promising that everything would be supervised and done in coordination.
    However, Maoz's statement in which he expressed his aspiration to cancel the Pride Parade in Jerusalem is one that is not easily forgotten. What he has managed to do, is make the concept of a "Jewish identity" unappealing, and even despicable.
    The educational reforms are just the tip of the iceberg. Here are some other matters in which the majority public opinion does not line up with Maoz's agenda: conversion reforms, kosher certification reforms, and public transportation on Shabbat.
    4 View gallery
    מצעד הגאווה בירושלים
    מצעד הגאווה בירושלים
    The Pride Parade in Jerusalem; Avi Maoz and Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: AFP)
    It is likely that local authorities, schools, and parents will refuse to cooperate with Maoz. Frankly, none of his plans will be seen through, because the coalition has granted way to much power to the extremists.
    While it's obvious that putting together a coalition requires compromises, there are certain lines that cannot be crossed.
    In the last few decades, Israel's judicial system took matters into their own hands, and looked out mostly for the rights of a particular political sector. In some cases, this reflected a justified concern for fundamental rights. In other cases, it was a coercion of a minority opinion that hurt the majority. Hence - and rightfully so - a widespread protest was awakened.
    Now the tables have turned, and instead of coercive judicial activism, we are facing coercive political activism. After years of the right-wing bloc complaining against legal processes that hurt the majority public opinion, it will now use its political power to act against the majority public opinion. To quote Alanis Morissette, "Isn't it ironic?"
    We can only hope that Netanyahu manages to balance out the atrocities of the emerging coalition agreement. For now, however, it seems the coalition's interests are triumphing the national ones. This can be called many things, but what it certainly is not is fulfilling the wishes of the majority.
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