Skip to Content
North Carolina Newspapers

The Charlotte Jewish news. (Charlotte, N.C.) 19??-current, December 01, 1988, Image 3

Below is the OCR text representation of this newspaper page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

Page 3-THE NEWS-December, 1988 =^=================s=smmmmmimmmMmmmiK^^ =g5ggBBgg= Opinions and Commentaries Religious Revival? With 18 Knesset Seats, Israel’s Orthodox Parties Wield Clout By David Landau JERUSALEM (JTA)-Three ultra-Orthodox parties and their spiritual mentors seem to hold Israel’s political future in their hands following the Knesset elections. The National Religious Par ty, Agudat Yisrael and Shas command 16 Knesset seats among them, according to the all-but-final results of the vote. Two additional religious seats have been won by the new ultra-Orthodox party Degel Hatorah, an Agudat Yisrael breakaway. It remains to be seen whether the fierce personed and doctrinal dis putes that caused the split can be resolved. One thing is clear, however: neither Labor nor Likud C£in form a government without the religious right. The religious bloc is con sidered far more likely to align with the nationalist Likud th£ui with the socialist and strongly secular Labor Party. The religious parties eire ex pected to drive a hard bargain in the coming weeks, one that may be unpedatable to Likud, some anedysts say. Therefore, the possibility of another Labor-Likud unity govern ment can not be ruled out. But at this juncture it seems re mote. The resd winners in the elec tions app>ear to be Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Sch- neerson, 85, who supported the Agudat Yisrael ticket from his Chabad Hasidic headquar ters in Brooklyn, N.Y.; Rabbi Eliezer Schach, 92, of Bnei Brak, a foe of the Chabad movement and a spiritual guide to both Agudat Yisrael and Shas; and Israel’s former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, 70, of Jerusalem. Moved the Voters These venerable rabbis in spired, cajoled, encouraged and threatened a large and rapidly growing constituency to show its true strength for the first time. In fact, the stunning rise of the religious vote appears to be the single most salient feature of the election. Demography euid the con tinued surge of the return- to-religion movement among Sephardim and Ashkenazim point to further increases in its strength in the future. Such immigration as there is, more over, is largely Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox. The various religious peirties fought this election with a pas sion born of schism and fac tionalism. As it turned out, it made for a higher turnout of religious voters. By contrast, both Likud and Labor produced a lackluster performance in the balloting. With 99 percent of the vote counted, they held 39 and 38 Knesset seats, respectively, in the 120-seat Israeli parli ament. This was a net loss from the 1984 elections, when they won 41 and 44 seats, respectively. Parties g£iin seats propor tionate to the percentage of votes won. Peres Doomed? Labor’s humiliation was especially bitter. As soon as the shock and disappointment over the exit poll results was absorbed, a wave of disaffec tion swept through the halls of a Tel Aviv hotel where a vic tory party had been planned. Its focus was p£u-ty leader Shimon Peres, the foreign minister and former premier who led Labor to its fourth consecutive defeat. Peres had built the entire campaign around his record, his achievements and his hopes, to the virtual exclusion of all of the top echelon of the Labor P2u*ty, except Defense Minister Yitzhcik Rabin. Energy Minister Moshe Shahal, party Secretary- General Uzi Baram and other party leaders all vented their spleen to representatives of the news media the night of the election. The result was headlines in the morning newspapers such as "Labor Leaders Demand a Soul-Searching — Now!” Less Displeased There were celebrations at Likud headquarters. The po litical arithmetic of the bedlot makes the hard-line p£u*ty the most likely leader of the next government. Premier Yitzhak Shamir, the Likud leader, emerged as the only man capable of form ing a new government. But his joy is by no means unbounded. His options are to be prime minister of a narrow-based government, in pgirtnership with the ultra-Orthodox and the far right-wing secular par ties, or of £inother broad coali tion with Labor. Both options are fraught with personal, politicsd and ideological difficulties. Sha mir’s experience as head of a narrow government in 1983 and 1984 left a bitter taste. At age 73, he would have wished to be spared the need to conduct arduous negotia tions with half a dozen ex tremist parties — extreme rightists and extreme Or thodox — most of which be lieve correctly that he needs them as much as they need him. It became clear during the preliminary consultations be tween Likud and the religious parties that a string of conces sions would have to be made on divisive religious issues. ‘Who is a Jew* Foremost is the controver sial “Who is a Jew” amend ment to the Law of Return. This is not seen as a major pit fall for Likud, since its Herut wing has always supported the Orthodox measure, which would allow automatic Israeli citizenship to Jews by choice only if they have undergone the Orthodox conversion. Herut and its Liberal Party partners in the Likud pre sumably can live with that. But passage of the amend ment would arouse the fury of the non-Orthodox, who com prise the majority of affiliated Jews in the U.S. and elsewhere overseas. Herut, presumably, also could accept demands for fat ter government subsidies for the ultra-Orthodox communi ty’s educational eind welfare institutions. But the religious parties plainly do not intend to stop there. Dealing, as they see it, from a position of strength, they are expected to demand government enforcement of all kinds of religious customs and restrictions, such as the clos ing of movie theaters on the Sabbath. In the eyes of many secular Israelis of all political persua sions, such measures would constitute a direct assault on their personal freedom. And from the Right On the far right, moreover, Shamir can expect constant pressure to abrogate the 1978 Camp David accords, to annex the West Bank £md Gaza Strip and to embark on a vast new settlement program in those territories. The far-right Tsomet p£u-ty and the NRP also urge the mass expulsion of Palestinian activists as the way to curb the uprising. Shamir knows well that such an approach would trig ger a devastating response from Israel’s friends abroad, notably the U.S., regardless of which party would win the presidential elections. Likud went into the elec tions cleaving to Camp David, which was the achievement of its longtime revered leader, Menachem Begin. One of its likely coalition partners, the expansionist Tehiya p8irty, fought its election campaign on an anti-Camp David pro gram. Shamir, in fact, voted against the accord. The even more extreme Moledet party demands the mass transfer of Arabs from Israel and the administered territories, as part of a negotiated peace settlement. Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach party was banned from the elec tions for advocating an imme diate transfer of the Arabs, a position the Central Elections Committee deemed racist. Yet without Moledet’s two seats, Shamir’s majority would be whittled down to the barest minimum, and his government would be at the mercy of the whims of any one of its com ponents. Back to ‘Unity'? All of these factors led observers not to rule out another unity coalition with the Labor Party — though one in which Likud clearly would be the dominant partner and Peres would play no role. Shamir’s animosity toward Peres is personal as well as political. Many pundits believe that if Shamir can be rid of Peres, he actually would keep Rabin as defense minister, rather than appoint the power ful and fiercely controversial Herut rival Ariel Sharon, or the even harder-line Tehiya leader, Yuval Ne’eman. SINCE 1883, IT HAS BEEN OUR PRIVILEGE TO SERVE THE JEWISH FAITH. Jkiik/ FUNERAL DIRECTORS u 500 Providence Road 332-7133 Preenspon V & Associates »Inc. & Associates * Inc. Insurance Specialists In Personal and Business Life Insurance Employee Benefits 125 Cottage Place • Charlotte, NC 28207 • (704) 376-7434 151S1515151515151S15151515151515\515151515151515151515151S15151515M51515151515\51515\515151^ Imperial printing products Specialists In Raised Printing Stationery — Business Cards Wedding — Bar Mitzvah Invitations Business & Social Announcements 4731 Sweden Road Charlotte. N. C. 28210 Stuart Cojac (704)554-1188 President ^ lSl5lSl5l5l3lSl&15)151S15l5I51Sl5l5U^t51S15151S15l51S15l5l5l5l5M5lSl5l5l5l5l515lSl515l513 i Umersity VOIJVO 7716 HWY 29 North (1/2 Mile South of University Place) Charlotte 704/547-1095

North Carolina Newspapers is powered by Chronam.

Digital North Carolina