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May 16, 2012

UTJ's Governmental Dilemmas

UTJ has some serious dilemmas to consider in the near future, and it does not look like the possibilities are all that good.

1. The first is regarding the committee formed by the prime minister to seek out an alternative solution to propose as law to replace the Tal Law.

UTJ announced that it would not send a representative but would work behind the scenes, during and after the fact, to mitigate the potential problems. They will not send a rep because they will not participate in a committee whose sole purpose is to find a way to take yeshiva boys out of yeshiva.

While at first it seemed as though Shas would send a representative, they did an about-face and said they would not, as the yeshiva world is not up for negotiations, and they would not be the shabbos goy for UTJ.

It looks like UTJ is taking the same position it always has taken regarding Israel. They refuse to participate in a way that might appear as if they are giving their stamp of approval, as full partners, and then later complain that things are not operating in a manner that is positive to the UTJ community. Sometimes it is the government - they won't help shape the nation with their full participation, but then complain when anything is not satisfactory to the haredi community's needs. Other times it is the army - they won't join or allow people to join and help shape the face of the army, but then complain when those who do join don't find full cooperation from the system.

And now there is a committee formed to find a solution - one that surely UTJ will not, at least completely, like the results of. Yet they wont participate to help shape the solution, but prefer to wait it out and then lobby against anything they might deem as unsatisfactory. Seems awfully inefficient and even backwards to me.

2. The second issue is regarding preparation for new elections. Despite the fact that we are back on track for regularly scheduled elections rather than early elections, UTJ feels it necessary to begin preparing for the eventuality of elections. One of the agreements between Likud and Kadima in forming the unity government was to work towards electoral reform. Any constellation of electoral reform pushed by the big parties will include the raising of the minimum threshold for a party to qualify for the Knesset.

According to this report on Kikar, UTJ knows that and is worried. UTJ has approached Shas in preparation for such an eventuality and is trying to reach an agreement by which the two parties would merge and run together.

How it would work, I don't know. They can work out the details. What interests me is how this is even possible. Shas is a moderately Zionist party. Despite the haredi appearance, a large part (perhaps even a majority) of the Shas electorate is made up if traditional Israelis, Zionists, who have served in the army and continue to do so. Shas is not like UTJ. Shas declared themselves a Zionist party by joining WZO - the World Zionist Organization - two years ago. Shas takes ministeries in the government and is an active participant in all matters of State. the list goes on and on and on. And that is besides for the differences between the two parties that they say they will overcome - such as the fight for city rabbi appointments and other local issues (local rather than national) in which Shas and UTJ are at odds with each other.

I have a difficult time seeing how UTJ will be able to find a way to merge with what is ostensibly a [at least semi] Zionist party and continue to maintain its identity and stance regarding the State.

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  1. United Torah Jokers Seeking Handouts And SubsidiesMay 16, 2012 1:41 PM

    Politics and religion don't mix.

    The Shas and UTJ parties have demonstrated this time and time again.

    Their willingness to do just about anything for money undermines the Torah aspect of either party.

    Anti medina factions often say that Jewry was much better off under the non Jewish governments so perhaps they should in fact step back and let the "non Jewish" government of Israel do their job.

  2. Well, it looks as if UTJ is taking the 'The best defense is a good offense' approach, submitting a bill to cancel the mandatory draft completely.

    Gotta give them credit for their audacity, which can only come from people who are so absolutely convinced of the justness of their position.


  3. Perhaps they will have a "sgan" position on the Tal Law committee, similar to Litzman being a "deputy" minister, rather than ch"v being a member of the tzioni government.

  4. The winds of change are blowing. The Charedi parties have an opportunity to shape the legislation to take into account their interests. They may feel this move is standing up for their values. However, in practical terms they are selling their communities short. A price they will continue to pay for generations.

    One of the goals of electoral reform is to encourage parties to lean towards the 'mushy middle' where the majority of voters are. To some degree Shas has already done this by garner support from the Sephardic community at large instead of just the Haredi segment. Electoral reform could reduce their influence on the Government but they will probably still have MKs. UTJ under the current leadership could be knocked out of Knesset.

    UTJ could fold, with their supporters most likely turning to Shas. They might be able to stick around for a few elections, until their supporters realize that they have a throw away vote. Either way Shas is in the driver seat on this one. UTJ can stick to their guns and become irrelevant or they could do some soul searching and realize they need to think the nation as a whole and not just their own petty interests.

  5. This typical attitude is like an ostrich putting it's head into the sand. Instead of pleading their case, instead of even being involved in the decision so that say most Hareidim would work for Ezer MiTzion or Zaka, rather than the army, they shut themselves out, and of course when a decision is made, will complain and demonstrate etc.


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