Israeli Haredim Are Turning Away from Their Own Political Parties

Sept. 6 2022

With another Israeli election approaching in November, recent polling confirms that a growing minority of Ḥaredim are inclined to cast their votes for non-ḥaredi parties. For the most part, this means voting for parties on the political right, especially those associated with Religious Zionists—i.e., non-ḥaredi Orthodox Jews. Efrat Finkel seeks to explain why:

The wandering of votes rightward points to more and more Ḥaredim preferring to identify with “Israeliness” in its rightwing version than sectorial “ḥarediness.” However, contrary to conventional wisdom pegging the ḥaredi rightward tilt to internal ḥaredi processes, I will argue that the right has moved to bring the Ḥaredim closer and increase its identification with them. The ḥaredi rightwing shift is [thus] a consequence of a “Ḥaredization” process that the right has undergone in recent years, much more than an Israelization of the Ḥaredim.

Influenced by these two simultaneous processes, a growing segment of younger Ḥaredim have been increasingly disillusioned with the traditional approach of their political leaders, which is to support whichever major party can offer them more on their core communal issues: funding for schools, avoidance of military service, control of the rabbinate.

Ḥaredi parties have, over time, accumulated the reputation of being “fixers”—promoting politics without values, focused on interests alone, and ready to make every shady deal to achieve them. Ḥaredi MKs are viewed as traditional activists (“makhers”), contrary to the value-based agendas on which other MKs pride themselves. Personally, I think the work of ḥaredi MKs is far broader than [this critique allows, however].

Yet, I believe that in the ḥaredi mindset, voting remains primarily an expression of identity and belonging. This remains true even when the ḥaredi individual no longer casts his vote in favor of a ḥaredi political party—only that the rightwing parties he votes for provide an alternative identity focal point. Thanks to the right moving closer to the Ḥaredim, he feels he can remain devoutly ḥaredi while also being part of the greater Israeli story.

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More about: Haredim, Israeli politics

 

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship