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Mr Prime Minister, listen to the people!

Forming a government without Bennett and Lapid would betray core Likud principles and the will of the voters

On this morning after…I see a lot of reason for hope. I pray to God that our newly elected representatives will have the foresight, courage and selflessness to seize the opportunity and make it a reality.

Three weeks later, it appears that the newly elected Knesset members upon whom I (along with so many others) pinned so much hope, are holding fast to their principles. The two harbingers of change, Yesh Atid and Jewish Home, who together represent more than 25 percent of the Knesset, have joined forces to make sure that the new agendas (along with justice for veteran soldiers and young couples) are advanced. The new MK’s are busy laying the groundwork for the ‘something new,’ for the ‘future’ they pledged to foster. One promising sign of the times was Dr. Ruth Calderon’s unprecedented Talmud lesson in her maiden speech in the Knesset. Another indication of things moving in the right direction are the signs that the new parties will support the candidacy of Rabbi David Stav for Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi.

The bad news is that the Prime Minister and his minions are not listening to the message the Israeli people have sent. Netanyahu is busy playing by the old ‘principles and values don’t count, ministerial positions do’ game. He would rather court his nemeses Tzippi Livni and Shaul Mofaz, than deal with Naftali Bennet. He would rather sell the country’s soul and buy off Yahadut ha-Torah (and, one may assume Shas) than finally resolve the issues of conversion and Haredi national service; issues that are ripping the country apart and causing needless hatred of Torah at a time when 85 percent of the Jewish population (or more) is desperately thirsting for a qualitatively Jewish Israel. (Never mind the fact that by playing by the old rules, he’s only hurting himself and Likud. Even the cynics in the media have remarked that they’ve never seen political parties stick to their principles in the way that Bayit Yehudi and Yesh Atid are doing.

I have no idea why he is conducting himself this way, when the soul of the nation is at stake. I only know that personally, I am deeply disappointed. I am a longtime member of Likud, with deep ties of affection and affinity for its founders. One thing that Revisionist Zionism taught was that Jews must have a deep, abiding and formative sense of Jewish History. Principle must not be blithely sacrificed for political convenience, or personal pique. If anyone knew and taught that lesson, it was the late Professor Ben Zion Netanyahu, the Prime minister’s father. I had the privilege of knowing Professor Netanyahu. While he was far from being an observant Jew, as an historian with a panoramic view of our people’s history, he would have been the first to agree that the strategic strength of the Jewish State is first and foremost in its Jewish awareness and knowledge. Yet, his son abjectly refuses to create a government which will contain those parties who are dedicated to precisely that goal. In stead, he is scrounging around to cobble together a government that includes Post-Zionist, non-Zionist and anti-Zionists.

Mr. Prime Minister, the people have spoken. They want a qualitatively Jewish State. They want a state in which Torah is studied and respected, and where the representatives of the Torah respect the people. They want everyone to bear their fair share in carrying the State of Israel forward into the twenty-first century and beyond.

Mr. Prime Minister, Listen to the People, and form the government they demand!!!

About the Author
Jeffrey Woolf is an Associate Professor in the Talmud Department at Bar Ilan University. He is both a Medieval and Renaissance Jewish Historian, and an Orthodox Rabbi who is a long time advocate of the creation of a uniquely Israeli form of Modern Orthodoxy.