Analytische Bemerkungen von Rabbiner Arik Asherman

Der Direktor von Torat Tzedek über den Ausgang der Knesset-Wahlen 2022

Eine linke relgiöse Stimme, hier besonders interessant der Punkt 2b

(Link zur Webversion, die auch noch Aktuelles enthält)



  1. The elections were a choice between bad and worse. We should have no illusions that the outgoing government had a decent human rights record.

a. The failure of Meretz to make it into the next Knesset was not just because of the fact that Labor refused to unite with them or the fact that Yesh Atid siphoned off votes. Many Meretz voters punished the party because they were somewhere between complicit to ineffective regarding serious human rights violations in the Occupied Territories. The violence and the land takeovers didn’t slow down.

b. Since January Torat Tzedek was in contact with a top advisor to Internal Security minister Bar-Lev (Labor). For all their good intentions, they were not able to get the police on the ground to prevent settler flocks from invading and destroying Palestinian fields, groves and vineyards. They were not able to get the police to properly investigate and prosecute even when there was good documentation of violence or invasions.

c. The latest spike in support by Israeli security forces for settler violence more or less coincides with Benny Gantz’s tenure as defense minister both for Netanyahu and in the outgoing government. I don’t know whether that was a matter of policy, or because it was not something Gantz was paying attention to. We had contact with his deputy defense ministers, who had very little real influence.
d. Nevertheless, without intense international pressure that goes beyond words, we are likely to move from bad to worse. We need to wait to see who will receive which ministries, what the coalition agreements look like, etc. However, if already those acting violently against Palestinians and human rights defenders have understood that they will pay no price for acting violently, we could be in a situation in which there will be open season against us and against Palestinians.

e. The Religious Zionism party has made it very clear that further undermining our judicial system is a top priority. They have a great deal of support for this in the Likud and ultra-Orthodox parties. While the courts have not been particularly favorable to human rights or international law, they can be further compromised. Judicial appointments can set the tone for years to come. It is also conceivable that the law will be employed to make it impossible or very difficult for human rights organizations to operate.

f. It may seem surrealistic, but our last best home might be Netanyahu. Before his indictments, he had some red lines regarding the rule of law. He always preferred to be in the political middle of his coalitions, and currently he is the far left of the Likud and of his coalition. The Likud democrats are long gone. Netanyahu may try to balance the radical rights with somebody to his left. Being dependent on Netanyahu’s potential moderating influence is not something to count on or to relish.

g. Arguably the outgoing government has been more neo-liberal and worse on internal Israeli socioeconomic issues than the previous Netanyahu governments. If nothing changes, this coming Tuesday will find many of us barricaded in the home of a single parent mom on the day that she is to be evicted from public housing. It was the current. There will likely be a power struggle in the incoming government between the ultra-Orthodox parties working on behalf of their lower income constituents, and others with clear neo-liberal tendencies. However, the solutions of the ultra-Orthodox parties tend to be band aid solutions that don’t tackle underlying factors keeping people living in poverty.

h. “Meshilut” (governability) is a favorite word of the right wing, and we have heard it a great deal during the campaign and since the elections. It is code for the majority “democratically” imposing laws on non-Jews, particularly Israel’s Negev Bedouin citizens.

  1. It is of course to early to say what the new composition of the Knesset will mean for our political landscape in the future.

a. If Meretz does not survive outside the Knesset, will anything replace it? Will there be a home for the Zionist left? Labor is center left both in terms of the Occupied Territories and socioeconomic justice.

b. It is arguable whether there was ever a political party representing religious Jews who were anti-Occupation. The relatively moderate Orthodox parties in favor of some sort of pluralism and rule of law were always pro-Occupation and had become increasingly neo-liberal. However, all that is left in the Knesset is a religious party supporting the legalization of unauthorized outposts, as well as the expansion of settlements. Their constituents largely support the violent hilltop youth. I know some right wing national religious Orthodox Jews who voted this time for ultra-Orthodox parties because the Religious Zionism/Jewish Power party was too extreme for them. Will this be a trend for the future? Truly progressive Orthodox Jews largely voted for non-Orthodox parties.

  1. The difference in the popular vote between the pro-Netanyahu and anti-Netanyahu coalitions was very small. However, the reason why the outgoing government was no better than the Netanyahu governments regarding Palestinian human rights, and arguably more neo-liberal was because the anti-Netanyahu coalition contained parties that had identical positions on human rights issues to the positions of the parties in Netanyahu’s block, but were anti-Netanyahu. In other words, trying to elect a future government more supportive of human rights is not just a matter of avoiding the strategic mistakes of the anti-Netanyahu coalition or doing better in terms of voter turnout.
  2. We should be careful about not idealizing the past, but there is a change going on in Israel. In the past, uncomfortable truths were swept under the table, but the declared public ethos was one which allowed most Israelis to maintain their self-image of a just people seeking to uphold universal values. Today, there are still many Israeli Jews who want to maintain that self-image. That will now be harder to do because we will now have a government with many members who are completely open about their racist, anti-democratic, and ethnocentric agenda. We may have an opening, if we can capitalize on the cognitive dissonance created when the veneer is stripped away. That will not be simple. I recall hearing from Palestinians that they thought that the election of Ariel Sharon would strip away the veneer.

However, there is also a sizable number of Israelis who knew just what they were voting for when they chose to vote for candidates with the openly racist, anti-democratic and ethnocentric agenda. Given that a large percentage of this population is Orthodox or traditional, can we craft a message of a different Judaism on their terms? I have long commented on how much more those who think differently than we do invest in education. Anonymous educators get to every small community in the country. The Eli settlement created the first pre-army academy dedicated to spreading their world view through a gap year program. They now run programs for post army young adults. There is no quick fix, but can we have “skin in the game?”

  1. These are just some initial thoughts, and I too need to spend a lot more time reflecting on what our strategy must now be, and discussing with others.

a. It is clear to be that we will need to take even further physical risks. Today, the Friday on the eve of Shabbat Lekh Lekha, is the day I was attacked by a knife wielding settler in 2005. The risks may well be becoming even greater, although I hope that I am wrong, and hope that somehow we will find a way of influencing the system to restrain settler violence by creating deterrence. However, that may only happen when the violence gets so bad that it has to be dealt with.

b. We must seek to go on trial, in the best tradition of civil disobedience. As mentioned above, just before the elections I did something I have almost never done. Guy Hirschfeld and I physically blocked the pickup of a violent settler racing into a Palestinian flock. I then grabbed him after he got out of the car and approached the flock on foot with a large rock in his hand, even as he banged my hand with the rock. On social media and in my blog, I begged the police to arrest me. I haven’t been arrested, but if Itamar Ben Gvir becomes Internal Security Minister, I might get my wish.

c. We must have the resources to use every legal strategy remaining to us, even as we keep our fingers on the pulse of the shifting legal sands in order to avoid doing harm. That is why increasing our budget to have a lawyer on staff is such a top priority for us.

d. We must work with our supporters abroad to maximize the impact of the international community.

e. We must find a way to speak to the Orthodox/traditional community in their language and on their terms.

Some may recall that when I was attacked on the eve of Shabbat Lekh Lekha, I asked to be called to the Torah to say the Mi Sh’Berakh prayer after the aliyah in which Abraham chooses not to employ his seniority and power to impose a solution on Lot when their shepherds begin to fight over grazing lands. He invites Lot to make the choice of who will graze where, because they are family, and family shouldn’t fight. Rashi teaches us that the conflict was also one of values:

7) ויהי ריב AND THERE WAS A QUARREL because Lot’s shepherds were wicked men and grazed their cattle in other people’s fields. Abram’s shepherds rebuked them for this act of robbery, but they replied, „The land has been given to Abram, and since he has no son as heir, Lot will be his heir: consequently this is not robbery“. Scripture, however, states: „The Canaanite and the Perizzite abode then in the land“, so that Abram was not yet entitled to possession (Genesis Rabbah 41:5).

May we all understand that we are one human family, that there are enough resources for all if we share them properly, and that we too must respect what belongs to others.

Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Arik W. Ascherman – Executive Director Torat Tzedek

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