Israel’s Haredim Are Abandoning Transactional Politics, and Identifying More Deeply with the State

Israel’s new governing coalition is the first since 2013 not to include the ḥaredi parties—the leaders of which have been hurling invective at it since it was sworn in. In general, these parties have always tried to find their way into the government regardless of which party dominates, hoping to trade their valuable Knesset votes for support on issues of particular importance to their constituents. Haviv Rettig Gur explains:

Ḥaredi parties . . . have been part of nearly every coalition—left, right and center—since the 1970s. . . . Historically, [these] parties largely ignored questions of national security, regional strategy, land, or Palestinian independence. Their top priority was always ensuring state funding for their institutions and communities.

That’s no accident. The Israeli ḥaredi community is deeply dependent on state funding, with large families and high rates of nonparticipation in the workforce, especially among men who choose to study in yeshiva full time. . . . Roughly 1.3 billion shekels ($400 million) in state funding goes to their yeshivas each year and billions more to the vast slew of ḥaredi charities, school networks, and community institutions.

But looking behind the scenes and reading between the lines, Gur notes a shift away from this purely transactional model:

Ḥaredi society once rejected “secular” Israel out of hand. Slowly, in piecemeal increments, that’s flipped. Most now identify deeply with the state, and as that identification grows, the demand to have a say in shaping Israeli society grows with it. Studies now show that ordinary Ḥaredim feel a cultural affinity with traditionalist right-wing voters, [that is, those who are religious Zionists or merely somewhat religiously observant].

So it is that anyone who follows the overheated rhetoric of the ḥaredi MKs in recent days will notice that they have studiously avoided all talk of money and focused instead on the religious culture war.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Haredim, Israeli politics

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict