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

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security