Politics is at the forefront of a lot of younger Israelis’ minds. There’s a lot of change occurring in the world – some good and some bad.
We have Donald Trump as President of the US, Putin staying in power and Netanyahu in Israel.
But we’re seeing a shift to ultra-orthodox Jews, or Haredim, becoming a major talking point of Israeli politics. Why? It’s the fastest growing group in Israel.
The issue is that 45% of the group is also living below the poverty line.
Politically, Haredis would always vote for the left. We can see this when David Ben-Gurion was in power. Ben-Gurion allowed the ultra-orthodox to study the Torah full-time and allowed their exemption from military service.
It was in 1977 when all of this started to change. The Likud party won the election, and Menachem Begin decided to bring Haredim to the right. The community became divided, but the Likud party was favored because progressive values were not being forced on the group by Begin.
Haredis are starting to change the face of elections, but it’s not necessarily the Israeli Haredim that are a threat. Often educated and very intelligent, it’s true that 45% of this group live in poverty. Government support goes to many in the community.
But it’s the Sephardic Jews of Middle Eastern background that are supporting the right, too.
The Shas party is starting to win more votes than other parties, and campaigns have started to switch in support of Netanyahu. If you look at the 2019 election, the Shas party released posters of its leader claiming that votes for Shas strengthen the prime minister.
Haredim are also seeing a major shift in their culture.
A lot of women in the community work and support their families, but core Haredim are leaving their study of the Torah full-time to join the workforce, go to University and some even enlist in the military. A group that has been known to be in poverty may soon become an economic engine for Israel.
There are high-tech entrepreneurs and innovators in the Haredi community that are helping push the community out of poverty.
It’s a great time.
Yiddish is becoming less popular, Hebrew is being spoken more in the Haredi community, and all of this has been happening while the community maintains their religious identity.
Politically, Haredim are more inclined to continue voting for the Shas and the United Torah Judaism parties. The two are gaining popularity and each won eight sears in the last election. Support for Netanyahu was given by Haredi party leaders that have all but forgotten their initial left voting back in the time of Ben-Gurion.
The Haredi group is not likely to lose their influence any time in the near future.
The birth rate for Haredi women is 6.9 children, and population-wise, the group’s population is expected to rise from 11% to 27% in the next 40 years.
If nothing is done to change left views, the right will continue to strengthen their party, win elections and make it very difficult for the left to have any real political power.