Does Israel’s New Government Show That the “Tribes” Can Come Together?

Writing in the Israeli ḥaredi publication Tzarich Iyun, Tamar Katzrir argues that the Jewish state’s most recent election reflects a less divided country than most assume:

Some seven years ago, then-President Reuven Rivlin delivered his famous “speech of tribes,” in which he effectively announced the demise of the grand story of the state of Israel. We are no longer one country with one great story, he claimed, but four distinct tribes, each with its specific narrative. We should come to terms with this reality and find a new common denominator that can bind together the various groups. Rivlin gave this program the somewhat ironic name “Israeli Hope.”

I believe the results of Israel’s recent elections disprove Rivlin’s gloomy forecast and bury his vision of Israel as a “state of all its tribes.” They prove that the Israeli public values a unifying Jewish narrative over the rival tribal narrative. Contrary to predictions, the public’s identification with the enduring Jewish story is actually becoming increasingly consolidated. The Ḥaredim, religious Zionists, the Sephardim, and the secular right, [whose respective parties make up the new coalition], united under the narrative that has always united us: the epic story of the people of Israel. The recent elections reflect the victory of the unified national narrative over the divisive tribal version.

Thus coalesced the current “right-wing bloc” that defined, together with the opposing bloc, the contours of the last elections. Voters had to choose less between individual parties, though this was also part of the choice and more between blocs. The success of the ḥaredi parties needs to be seen in this context: voters were happy to give them their voice in the knowledge that support would go not only to the specific group but also to the wider collective.

Read more at Tzarich Iyun

More about: Haredim, Israeli Election 2022, Israeli politics


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount