Israeli Haredim Are Turning Away from Their Own Political Parties

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.

Read more at Tzarich Iyun

More about: Haredim, Israeli politics

The Ugly Roots of Ireland’s Anti-Israel Policies

Prime Minister Varadkar’s meretricious messaging concerning the freeing of a kidnapped child is only one example of the Irish government’s perverse reaction to Hamas’s assault on Israel. Varadkar has accused the IDF of pursuing “something approaching revenge” in Gaza, and compared the Israeli war effort to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. His parliament, meanwhile, came close to expelling the Israeli ambassador. Terry Glavin writes:

In a recent interview, . . . the retired Irish diplomat Niall Holohan put it this way: “We feel we have been victimized over the centuries. It’s part of our psyche—underneath it all we side with the underdog.” But there’s something else in the Irish psyche that’s impolite to mention in the comfy Dublin pubs and bistros. . . . Not a few of Ireland’s gallant and celebrated champions of the underdog, its heroes of Irish freedom, were vulgar anti-Semites and Nazi collaborators.

And in recent years, Irish Jews are commonly baited, harassed, and badgered every time there is some eruption in Israel involving Palestinian “resistance.”

The republican pamphleteer Arthur Griffith approved [of anti-Jewish agitation in Limerick in 1904], calling Jews “usurers and parasites.” Griffiths was one of the founders of Sinn Féin, in 1905, and he served as Sinn Féin’s president in 1911.

There was always a deep division in the Irish nationalist movement between Irish republicans who felt an affinity with the Jews owing to a shared history of dispossession and exile, and Catholic extremists who ranted and raved about Jews. Those Catholic shouters are still abroad, apparently unaware that for half a century, Catholic doctrine has established that anti-Semitism is a mortal sin.

Read more at National Post

More about: Anti-Semitism, Gaza War 2023, Ireland