Apr 4, 2021

Politics makes strange bedfellows

A lot of people are surprised, even shocked, even horrified, by what Rav Chaim Kanievsky was recently quoted as having said. 

There are slightly different versions of exactly what he said, so I'll just paraphrase the point of what he supposedly said.

Rav Chaim Kanievsky was, supposedly, asked if the Haredi parties should support a government that is reliant on the Arab parties, or if they should reject that and support a government of Jews but they are Leftists. What the exact wording of the question was, I do not know -I saw a few different versions, but that was the point of the supposed question (I keep saying supposedly and supposed because they video and publish everything about him nowadays. Anything that is put out in his name without some form of documentation is just supposed). 

Rav Chaim Kanievsky's answer was, again supposedly, that it is better to make a government with Arabs rather than Leftists because they do not want to create a melting pot and turn us all into secular Jews and also because their family values and respect for religion is a lot closer to our views than those of the seculars.

Supposedly he said something like that, with the point being (no matter what the exact words were, if he said it at all) that he has no problem with the Haredi parties being part of a coalition that includes, or is reliant upon, Arab parties and would prefer that over an alternate coalition that includes Lapid, Labor, Meretz, etc.

People are shocked and horrified over this, Rav Chaim Kanievsky is choosing the murderous and terror-supporting Arabs as coalition partners over his own Jewish brothers!?!?! Shock! Horror! See how much he/they hates the rest of us! So selfish for his narrow interests he will sell the entire country down the creek!

First, that shows how far the values of so many Jews has moved from his values, and seemingly from the values of the traditional Judaism that he represents. He does not have to prefer liberal values over traditional ones if he is opposed to them.

Second, as far as I can tell nothing new was said here (if anything was actually said at all). We have frequently seen the Haredi parties cooperating with the Arab parties to thwart potential laws that might hurt one or the other group, and in the other direction as well - cooperating to pass laws that help one or the other. They have found each other, for a long time already, to be convenient partners and on close enough to the "same page" that they have found it easy and convenient to work together often. As they say, politics makes strange bedfellows. The Haredi and Arab parties have been bedfellows for a long time already and this is nothing new.

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  1. This criticism of R. Kanievsky is racist. Like it or not, non-Jews, which in Israel are mainly Arabs, have the right to vote. That means that their votes gain them political power, which translates as seats in the Knesset. And under Israel's parliamentary/coalition system, that means leverage to sit in the government and get power.

    So why should a Charedi party not co-operate with groups it feels are closer to its interests than another group? Just because the latter are ethnically Jewish, even if ideologically farther from them?

    To put it more crassly, R. Chaim seems to be saying, better a frum goy than a Jewish apikorus. Can't say he is wrong. (Not to mention that many of the voters for the more left-wing parties may not even be halakhically Jewish.)

  2. To the extent that he and his followers are not zionistic in the sense that they do not value Jewish self governance or a jewsish nation-state, this would be entirely consistent with their outlook. Not at all surprised.


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