Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's interesting how power and influence are projected and perceived in democracies. In short, some people's opinions count for more than others. This is a function both of how they perceive themselves and of how others perceive them. For example, Finance Minister Yuval Shteinitz recently observed that Israel's Supreme Court rules without any regard for the financial consequences of its decisions. The point is both obviously true and not especially damning since a strong case can be made that (at least in this one small regard) the Justices are doing what they are supposed to do. Nevertheless, the demagoguery that issued forth from a few entirely unrepresentative left-wing professors and know-nothing journalists with bully pulpits sent Shteinitz looking for cover and ended any reasoned debate on the topic.

On the other hand, Defense Minister Ehud Barak treats settlers threatening to defy the building freeze as if they were enemy combatants and makes clear that he intends to use the army to enforce it. Let's ignore the merits of Barak's case as well as the merits of the case in favor of refusing military orders; this doesn't concern me here at all. The point is that Barak does not take the religious Zionist crowd seriously. He just brushes them off like water off a duck's back. Clearly, they have failed to project power in a convincing manner.

I'm afraid, though, that he has misjudged -- or at least that there is now a disconnect between how Barak perceives religious Zionists and how they perceive themselves (at least the ones under 30). Barak is an old fart who carries with him old, entirely justified, stereotypes of Mafdalnikim as goody-goody two-shoes pushovers. He is likely to soon discover, however, that the Roshei Yeshiva he is pushing around are the last of the burganim. If he tries to send in Kfir units to subdue settlers, he may be forced to re-evaluate some of those stereotypes.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Y. Ben-David said...

I fervently pray you are correct. The way the leadership of the Religious Zionist camp simply folded up during the Gush Katif crisis when justice was completely on our side (because Sharon betrayed all the promises he made and refused to get a public mandate for the POGROM) infuriates me to this day.
I am hoping that Rav Eliezer Melamed represents a change of generational leadership. He and his generation was only children during the Six-Day War and were too young to fight in the Yom Kippur war so they don't have the same memories and awe and respect for the "Titans" who were the heroes of that period...Sharon, Rabin and other Generals like Barak. Whereas the "Dinosaurs" of the Gush Emunim founders who dealt with them still stuck with them when they turned against Zionism with Oslo in the 1990's and they imported terrorists who killed or wounded thousands of Israelis, and were giving them the benefit of the doubt or were saying "even though they err today, we owe them a lot for their heroism in the past", the new generation will hopefully not fall into this trap.
I also hope that the equation we keep hearing from many in the RZ and particularly the followers of Rav Kook's philosophy that says automatically

IDF Officer = Tzaddik


which is a distortion of Rav Kook's teachings will be face greater scrutiny.
Some time after the Gush Katif POGROM, a young hesder student told me his rabbis told him that Gush Katif happened because "we don't love Eretz Israel enough". I replied "Gush Katif happened because we elected bad people to be our leaders, we let them get away with criminal acts and we were guilty of the sin of "hanupah" (flattery) in our behavior to them. He said he had never thought of that. Time to wake up.

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually, barak has judged them accurately, and part of the problem in gush katif is that the rz didnt realize how powerless they really are.
in fact in the knesset mafdal remains goody-goody, and bayit yehudi is numerically meaningless and politically/ideologically isolationist.
the nation did not stand behind rz in gush katif, and the state had its way with the rz in that regard.
from where i sit, the under-30/bayit yehudi crowd is more angry than anything, and this only brings jew on jew bloodshed that much closer. if bystanders dont care -- and i dont imagine they will in any meaningful way a la the civil rights movement in the us [think beit hashalom] -- it will be blood spilled in vain, and the old farts win again.
how do you see a way out of this mess?

8:34 PM  
Blogger Yonatan said...

I think that Barak might be actually wishing for a violent reaction from the Religious Zionist so that he can justify his actions and paint them as his enemies and the enemies of the State.

4:33 PM  

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