Tribal party

Several articles have voiced the notion that Israelis voted according to social grouping instead of purely for political opinion. In other words, Russian-speaking immigrants voted for Lieberman, the National-Religious crowd voted for the Jewish Home, religious Sephardic bloc voted for Shas, Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox voted for United Torah Judaism, secular Ashkenazim voted for Labour, semi-traditional and secular Sephardim voted Likud and of course the Arabs voted for the United Arab List.

This is somewhat ironic in regards to the popular saying two Jews three opinions, but this is human nature and shouldn’t be surprising. Interesting was the repeated use of the word ‘tribal’ to describe such behavior, and even more interesting the alleged tension between the left-wing humanistic sentiment and right-wing traditional sentiment. Despite the simplification of it all, there is definitely an underlying conflict between these two theoretically polarized worldviews in Jewish-Israeli society; universal values or particularistic values.

I am not ashamed of being a centrist for the last three elections (Kadima, Yesh Atid, Kulanu). My reasoning has been the need for balance and stability, prevention of disproportionate manipulative influence by fringe factions (namely ultra-Orthodox), resentment towards old party rivals (Labour and Likud) and more. In addition, I can’t seem to choose between those universal values and the traditional particular values. Unfortunately, often enough people on the right overlook human rights and sympathy, while persons on the left fail to recognize the depth and critical element of Judaism.

What is this Judaism sense? In an argument once, I criticized a friend that his Judaism was merely culture and no more. Then another student overheard and piped up asking me if my Judaism was obligatory, to which I said not quite. She then enlightened me that such Judaism is only cultural, to my frustration. After struggling with the thought, I concluded that for me Judaism and Jewishness go together, more than culture but not automatically obligatory, rather a choice.

The question is not exclusively culture and ethnicity or religion. Judaism and Jewishness go together inclusively, creating a sense of tribalism: heritage, identity, tradition and a spiritual existence. Rabbinic Judaism is not one form in a variety of Judaisms, but it is inherent to our national tribal consciousness. This sense, if nothing else, provides depth that is religious and political and we need it desperately to succeed.

About the Author
Natar has an MA in Jewish Thought from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He likes to read and write about politics, Jerusalem and messianism.