News and views from an Israeli girl
The ultra-Orthodox Israelis want to continue receiving state subsidies, while at the same time not sharing the burden of creating the means for those subsidies: serving in the army, doing national service, or entering the workforce. The haredim want to be left alone.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants the ultra-Orthodox to serve in the army or do national service, and at the same time, he doesn’t want to burn his political bridges to the ultra-Orthodox parties. Bibi wants the political support of Shas and UTJ after the next elections in 18 months time, while at the same time, wanting them to acquiesce now and draft their young flock into the army. Bibi wants to buy [their support now] and not pay for it later [when they refuse to support him].
But the religious parties are in a bind: if they don’t support Bibi now, and refuse to support him later, and because of them, somebody else becomes prime minister [say Shelly Yechimovich], will they support her? Will she support them? The truth is that the religious parties have no better alternative to Binyamin Netanyahu, and they know it.
Bibi set up a committee to deliver recommendations to replace the Tal Law because he wanted to show the public that he was taking its concerns to heart, and because he wants to increase the workforce. But as soon as he saw that the committee was coming up with serious conclusions that would endanger his coalition, he set up a secret committee, made up of his close aides and the heads of the religious parties, to make sure that no serious recommendations are made that could endanger his coalition. Bibi wants slow, small, and steady reform. He doesn’t want sudden, structural changes. King Bibi, as Time Magazine called him, is supremely happy being Israel’s Supreme Leader with 94 Knesset votes, a mammoth coalition. He wants to keep this going. He does not want to become Prince Bibi, Count Bibi, or even Duke Bibi.
Similar to the haredim, the Arab-Israelis want equality at all levels, but do not want to take part in equal service at all levels. They won’t serve in the army and they won’t carry out national service. They want the state to treat them as equals, but they refuse to take part in any official capacity with anything associated with the state. They want all the rights without any of the responsibilities.
The majority of Israelis – taxpaying, army serving, secular worker bees – want the haredim and the Arabs to start carrying their share of the burden. The haredim and the Arabs want the status quo to continue. They want to be given everything and left alone.
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