The New Israel: Democracy or Theocracy?

Today on Beast Watch News: Will the Trump peace plan move forward? What plans does Iran have for Israel now? Will Syria and Hamas reunite against Israel? What’s the big issue in Israel’s September elections?

First, though, a look at what Netanyahu’s coalition loss may mean for Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.


Thank you for listening!
Kimberly Rogers-Brown

Theme music by Mishkanim.


US Ambassador Friedman: Israel ‘has right to retain’ some of Judea and Samaria. Why would say this and why would he say it like that?

The Trump administration appears to be pushing ahead with one aspect of the peace plan which entails Israeli annexation of the West Bank. Included in the annexation is the Golan Heights which I reported on several weeks ago.

“Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank,” U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told The New York Times in an interview published on Sunday.

Mr. Friedman “declined to say” what the U.S. reaction would be if Israel decided to annex parts of Judea and Samaria, the Times reported.

Pushing ahead, though, is not without its “pushing back” by the US State Department. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said the administration’s position on the West Bank has not changed, despite Ambassador David Friedman’s comments.

Asked what the US position on settlement activity is, a State Department official cited President Trump, saying that “as the President has said, while the existence of settlements is not in itself an impediment to peace, further unrestrained settlement activity doesn’t help advance peace.”

The State Department has been a junior partner in the administration’s efforts to forge a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Therefore, it seems that there are differing opinions in the Trump administration… Or are there, really?

It is possible that deliberately creating confusion within the administration is a way to keep the public confused about Trump’s peace plan. The other possibility is that it appears Ambassador Friedman’s announcement that Israel has the right to retain at least some of the West Bank holds a hidden meaning: The Trump deal is dead.

According to, some interpreted Freidman’s statement as a green light for Israel to go ahead with annexation of parts of the West Bank, a step Israel has refrained from for the past fifty-two years.

Unilateral annexation, even of small parts of the West Bank, would almost certainly lead to a cessation of all ties between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Some believe it could lead to the dissolution of the PA and even lead to a new intifada.

But it isn’t clear at all whether Mr. Friedman was articulating his own views, or those of the Trump administration.

As to the administration’s official position, there does not seem to be one. An unnamed source in Washington said in wake of the interview that the “administration’s position on settlements hasn’t changed” and that Israel had not presented any plans for unilateral annexation.

But what is the position that has not changed?

No senior figure in the administration has come out to contradict Mr. Friedman and, by all accounts, his voice is currently the most influential around President Donald Trump when it comes to policy towards Israel.

But this may well not have been a statement coordinated with US or Israeli policymakers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is usually swift to praise any pro-Israel statement from the administration, has been noticeably silent since Mr. Friedman’s interview.

Annexation does not seem in the cards for now. Israel is in the grip of another election campaign and no serious planning is taking place for what would be a complex move.

The more immediate question is what Mr. Friedman’s statements signify in the context of the Trump Peace Plan.

The administration is still officially pushing the plan, yet to be unveiled, and trying to get Arab diplomats and businesspeople to attend the “workshop” in Bahrain where they plan to present plans to boost the Palestinian economy — but not yet the political section of their plan, if it even exists.

Mr. Friedman, however, did not sound very optimistic in the interview: “Maybe they won’t take it,” he said of the Palestinians. “Maybe it doesn’t meet their minimums.”

Essentially blaming the Palestinians for the failure of the Trump plan even before it has been presented, Mr. Friedman judged that “the Palestinian leadership is really the difficulty right now.”

He seems to be right on one thing at least: The Trump Peace Plan is almost certainly dead on arrival.

That is most certainly true under Netanyahu’s current circumstances. He is in no position to push Trump’s and his peace plans, bringing them into effect because of his current weakened political position. The plan’s partial unveiling is scheduled to happen so Trump can at least save face and possibly send Israelis the message that Netanyahu has not been involved in the plan’s creation.

The two differing administration announcements – one by Ambassador Friedman, the other by the State Department – comes ahead of the US-sponsored June 25-26 “Peace to Prosperity” conference in Bahrain, where the United States is expected to reveal the first, economic stage of Trump’s peace plan.

Here is what appears to be happening. The US Ambassador didn’t just express his own opinion as speculates. US Ambassadors represent the administration that hired them. Thus, the Ambassador to any country is tasked with speaking what the President tells him to speak. In other words, an Ambassador is a messenger just like a messenger a king would use to speak for him in ancient times.

In ancient times, messengers were only allowed to speak what the king wanted to say in two ways: by either speaking the actual message with the posture, vocal inflections and exact wording of the king, or by paraphrasing an earlier message spoken with the express exactness required by his king.

Do modern Ambassador/messengers speak their own opinions sometimes? They do. This is because our modern world has become very loose with the lips.

In the case of Ambassador Friedman though, he is speaking specifically of a highly sensitive issue – the peace plan – and what that may entail. If he did not speak when the White House told him – if he spoke his own opinion without permission of the White House or with a message tasked to him by the White House – he should be fired.

Donald Trump has made no announcements of Friedman’s termination from his post, so it is safe to say that Friedman is speaking the White House message while making it appear that it is coming from him has his personal opinion and the State Department is simply being what all Americans understand the State Department to be – its own agency that is often at odds with Presidential administrations. Understand?


The Palestinians are already protesting the conference. PLO executive committee member Wasel Abu Yusef said the meeting was the first in a series focusing on “popular activities to confront American-Israeli schemes aimed at eliminating the rights of the Palestinian people.”

The Palestinians, he said, needed to organize a “struggling action to foil the ‘deal of the century’ [the US peace plan] and its economic aspect, and voice their rejection of all American policies.”

According to Abu Yusef, the protests will be carried out at “friction points,” namely Israeli checkpoints, rather than inside Palestinian cities, and will be coordinated with Arab-Israeli leaders and Palestinians around the world.

The other participants in the Bahrain conference are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. The Times of Israel reported that Israel was not invited. This is possibly so the Trump administration can sell the peace plan to the Muslims without it appearing they are in alliance with Israel.

Egypt, Morocco and Jordan left their attendance up in the air for a few days, but ultimately agreed to attend. By attending, Amman is showing that it won’t be left out while other countries in the Gulf take part.

The conference is likely to focus on means to boost the economic wellbeing of Palestinians and Israelis through regional projects funded by Arab states and the U.S.

According to reports in various Jordanian media outlets, Abdullah said there was less pressure on Jordan to accept the Trump administration’s “deal of the century” for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, as no major progress was expected in the next few months.

The Jordanians [have been] furious with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas over his continued refusal to accept international aid for the West Bank. Abbas has again rejected a proposed plan to resolve the economic crisis in the PA, and has even barred Palestinian officials from meeting Israeli officials seeking to help Ramallah resolve the crisis.

The reason for the dispute is because Abbas has refused to accept the funds in the wake of Israeli legislation deducting terrorists’ salaries from these taxes. As a result of Abbas’ refusal to accept the funds, Ramallah has had to cut public sector employees’ wages by 50%. PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has warned that the PA would soon have no choice but to bite into the wages paid to its security forces.

The latter is of particular concern for Jordan, as Amman is worried that any violent riots that erupt in the wake of economic chaos in the West Bank would not be directed solely at Israel and could spill over into the kingdom’s territory.

The Palestinian authority is more concerned about paying its murderers of Jews than it is about paying its own security force personnel. That should tell you something about the intransigence of the ancient House of Israel and House of Judah people who are mixed together and with ancient Gentile stock in the West Bank. Their continued unrelenting desire to kill the Jews is another clue about the 2900-year-old war between the Houses. Most Muslim Palestinians don’t know who they are – ancient physical Hebrews, not to be confused with ancient Israelites who worshipped the God of Jacob.

The Palestinians want war with Israel. Their House of Israel and Judah, ancient Samaritan and Gentile DNA wants to take YHVH’s Israel for themselves alone. For as much as the House of Judah, the Israeli Jews, want the same thing, there will be war in the mountains of Israel (Ezekiel 38:8, 39:2) and it will be a war between brethren (Ezekiel 38:21). And if the belief that Gog will one day be the President of the United States is correct, then we can expect the US to not only engage in that war, but to start it. What better way to start such a war but with a peace plan that no one wants regardless of the terms that a nation outside Israel wants to impose? It won’t matter how beneficial any peace terms are to the Palestinians or the Jews. They both want to remove the other from YHVH’s land.

Since this is the case, we must ask if, Biblically, does Israel now have the right to retain or annex more land as Ambassador Friedman said? The answer is no.

Israel is the name of a nation of 12 tribes who all are to take their place as unique tribes serving YHVH. Neither the Israeli Jews nor the Palestinians have the right to YHVH’s land by themselves. And most certainly, since the UN-created modern Political State of Israel declared for themselves a Jubilee last year, which requires the restoration of all tribes to the Land, do they have the right to annex land. Biblically speaking, YHVH will see their annexations, and even their retentions possibly, a confiscation.

Why is this? It will be because Judah will have broken the Torah in yet another way.

Deuteronomy 19:14 “You shall not move your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in the inheritance that you will hold in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess.

In other words, don’t take land that doesn’t belong to you. The tribal lands were specific with specific boundaries. The House of Judah needed to return to the Land first since Judah always goes first when the camp moves. Judah’s return was for the purpose of occupying the Land until all the tribes could return, make Aliyah. But last year, during the self-declared Jubilee, Judah decided to reject all House of Israel brethren who believe Yeshua is the Messiah and even entire Jewish sects who are not Orthodox or Ultra-Orthodox with that Jewish State bill.

Furthermore, the Jubilee requires complete restoration of the Land back to all the previous owners. It is known where the tribal boundaries were. That knowledge was never lost. What must happen next, for the Israelis to fulfill YHVH’s requirements, is for them to allow all who want to return to worship YHVH, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to return.

Those who do not want to worship YHVH, and who still want to murder Jews or other Hebrews, should suffer capital punishment per the Torah. This would require the Israeli House of Judah Jews to rightfully begin ruling as the Kingly tribe under the Torah, but not the Talmud.

You see, there is too much that YHVH’s people from either House are not willing to fulfill either from rebellion or ignorance. Only Yeshua can sort this mess out. His Kingdom will be Torah-based, not Talmud-based. I dare say I believe those who are now Muslim will find this easier to take than either Jews or Christians. Orthodox Jews are trying to make Israel into a Talmud-based State while Christians reject the Torah as having authority in their lives even though they do seem to accidentally obey some of the Torah’s precepts from time to time.


Iran has harshly opposed Bahrain hosting the event, accusing Saudi Arabia and Bahrain of being traitors involved in a US “plot,” but the Saudi’s stature and presence at the conference has added legitimacy to the event [for the other Arab nations].

Tehran is much more interested in war than peace so the Iranians they will be watching what happens very carefully. In the meantime, they continue to foment war with Saudi Arabia via their Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Yemeni Houthi rebels’ first multiple drone attack on a Saudi air base at Jizan on Sunday, June 9, was the latest of five assaults orchestrated by Iran on US allies in a month. Two rockets fired on June 1 from Syria at Israel’s Hermon positions belonged to the same series.

At Jizan airport, the Yemeni insurgents used a squadron of their Iran-made armed drones to level Saudi drone bunkers and stations. Saudi air defense units were caught off guard and failed to shoot down a single enemy drone. Riyadh did not confirm that the attack took place.

The IDF confirmed that a June 1st missile attack on Mount Hermon was deliberately aimed at Israel’s military outposts on the slopes overlooking the Golan from deep inside Syria. Israel retaliated the next day with a missile strike described by Syrian opposition sources as targeting “Iranian and Hizballah forces near Damascus.” However, Israel concentrated mainly on Syrian army sites including its missile stores at the big T-4 Air Base near Homs.

Then, on June 12th, Israeli missiles struck inside Syria against Iranian forces. The Israel missile strike [hit] Iranian radars situated at Tel Al-Harrah, a hill overlooking the Golan, Galilee and the Sea of Galilee.

According to [Debka’s] military sources, the IDF’s Tel Al-Harrah strike was mounted to prepare the way for a high-powered meeting planned to take place in Jerusalem later this month of the American, Russian and Israeli national security advisers – John Bolton, Nikolai Patrushev and Meir Ben-Shabbat – for an airing of the situation in Syria and Iran’s military presence there.


Hamas has obtained over 10,000 new rockets and is planning a new Iran-sponsored militia in Syria. DEBKAfile’s intelligence and military sources reveal that Hamas’ live-wire military leader Yahya Sinwar is deep in a venture to expand its turf much further afield, while also in advanced negotiations for more Iranian funding and a large injection of arms.

This is important. The King of the North, Iran and the 4+1 coalition, will squeeze Saudi Arabia from Yemen in the south when it attacks from the north, and Hamas and the PA will attack Israel from within when Iran attacks Israel from the north. My opinion is that this will happen when Gog, under whichever US President is in office at the time, tries to enforce a peace deal that no one wants, particularly the Palestinians.

But Syria is not interested in restoring their relations with Hamas despite the Palestinian movement’s readiness to bury the hatchet with Damascus.

In the meantime, there is another faction in Gaza that also wants to make trouble for the Israelis: Islamic Jihad.

Armed Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip are determined to stop the US administration’s proposed peace plan for the Middle East and have the means to do so, according to Ziad al-Nakhla, secretary general of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement.
Several times recently, Nakhla has alluded to escalation and the use of military force to stop [Trumps peace] plan, which is expected to be unveiled [in June]. Nakhla’s statements come as his movement’s military wing, Al-Quds Brigades, has shown significantly developed military potential, especially in the round of escalation between Israel and the Gaza Strip last month.

He said May 30 on Lebanese Al-Manar TV that many leaders in the region want to close the Palestinian cause dossier, and this could play out in favor of the US plan. Nakhla pointed out, however, that despite the disparity in the balance of power, the Palestinian people have the ability to thwart the plan, which the United States has dubbed the “deal of the century.”

“If Palestinians are not part of the deal, then the deal is born dead. The Palestinians have the right to reject any deal that does not respect their historical rights,” he added.


The upcoming Israeli elections are a result of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failure to form a governing coalition because of his own hubris after the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem. Emboldened by the move, the right-wing parties forced the planned Jewish State bill through the Knesset. The bill had been in the works for years, but the right time to push for it to become legislated in the Knesset came only months after the US embassy move and Trump’s and Netanyahu’s constant “twerping” about how much they love each other. It is possible the backlash against the legislation inside Israel blindsided them both.

Netanyahu likely never thought he could lose a coalition. No elected Prime Minister ever had since Israel’s inception in 1948. Trump, who was counting on Netanyahu’s political prowess to form a coalition, was probably blindsided, too. He was looking forward to unveiling his peace plan in June. Now, a scaled down version with the highlights, especially the economic goodies the Palestinians stand to gain, is what the world will get. It’s kind of like watching a movie preview in which all the good stuff is revealed but the movie turns out to be worthless.

The rift between Netanyahu and his former Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has to do directly with the Jewish State law. The law panders to religious Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Judaism, its religious advancement coming about because of the conscription problem of Ultra-Orthodox young men into the Israeli military. Avigdor Lieberman’s Blue and White party with only 5 seats that Netanyahu desperately needed to make the coalition stopped the development of Israel as a religious State.

According to Times of Israel regarding Avigdor Lieberman’s chances in the upcoming election, “It’s something of a shift for Lieberman, who a decade ago made an infamous reputation running an ultra-nationalist campaign against Israeli Arabs with the slogan, “no loyalty, no citizenship.”

“With his sharp political instincts, Lieberman understood that incitement against leftists and Arabs has run its course,” wrote Ravit Hecht in Haaretz. “And Lieberman, in his political wisdom, has found an old-new target that’s somewhat fresher — the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox.”

Ravit Hecht argued that the centrist Blue and White party will need to match Lieberman’s rhetoric if it wants to win.

“This will have to be the main thrust of its campaign: Frightening members of the public about the fate that awaits them in the clerical right-wing state being planned by the alliance of the ultra-Orthodox and Orthodox who tend towards ultra-Orthodoxy”.

The US has wrangled with the separation of Church and State for over 100 years. It is America’s sister nation’s turn now.

Indeed, it appears that Blue and White and other opposition parties don’t plan on leaving Lieberman as the sole defender of the secular state. On Monday, Yair Lapid responded to Smotrich’s pledge for a religious state, tweeting “we won’t let this pass,” while Labor MKs said his statements “are a warning sign for the wave of conservatism by parts of the right.”    

Lieberman may have revived an issue with the potential to upend and realign Israel’s political map in the upcoming election, said Dahlia Scheindlin, an Israeli-American public opinion expert. In addition to secular immigrants from the former Soviet Union, traditional Israelis from Netanyahu’s coalition would like to see less influence of religious regulation in Israel’s public life, she said.

“Religion and state is one of the only issues that is a clear divider between left, right and center, other than peace and security,” she said. “It’s not a coincidence that the more religious people are, the more right wing they are — with the caveat that religion and state separation is the one issue that connects with a constituency that is both right wing and secular.”

The breakdown of right and left wing parties is the same in Israel’s sister nation, the US.

The collapse of Netanyahu’s coalition efforts shows that his alliance of right-wing and religious voters is far from a homogenous bloc, said Yohanan Plessner, the president of the Israel Democracy Institute.

“What we’re seeing is that there is a strong, significant group of secular Israelis who self-identify themselves as right wing. They want a right-wing government, but they do not want a government that allows the ultra-Orthodox to call the shots in the entire realm of a religion and state and the domestic agenda.”

Perhaps, recognizing the potential of the religion-and-state issue, Netanyahu also pushed back in his tweets against the idea of a religious state. But doing so was disingenuous on his part. In recent years, Netanyahu has referred to Israel’s religious Zionist parties and ultra-Orthodox parties like Shas and United Torah Judaism as his “natural” partners in a coalition. After coalition negotiations foundered, Netanyahu denounced Lieberman as a member of the Israeli “left.”

While Netanyahu is expected to return to his winning strategy of running against forces of the Israeli “left” and Arab parties, analysts say they sense that Israel’s second-longest serving prime minister has been weakened politically by the corruption charges hanging over his head. Israeli prosecutors are set to subject him to a hearing in early October and could announce a final indictment before a government is formed after the September election. That vulnerability [could further] undercut his ability to form a coalition after the September election.  

“A lot of Netanyahu’s success is based on this aura of invincibility he has, and that he alone is the indispensable prime minister, and that no one else can fill his shoes,” said Michael Koplow, the director of the left leaning Israel Policy Forum. “This is the first time in the last decade that he has really failed in a big way. I suspect that this will impact some of his voters.”

“I definitely think he’s wounded. Every time he runs, I wouldn’t bet against him to win. But,” Koplow concluded, “this is the first time that I have some creeping doubts.”

This week, ran this headline: Religious Affairs: How Close Are We To A ‘Jewish Republic’ Of Israel?

Headlines this week were dominated by the biblical death penalty of stoning, gender segregation and talk in general of a “halachic state” in the mold of some other Middle Eastern countries with hard-line religious conservative elements in power.

These stories were generated after joint leader of the Union of Right-Wing Parties and aspiring justice minister Bezalel Smotrich said during a radio interview that he wants the State of Israel in the long term “to be governed by Halacha [Jewish law],” and that the Torah is a better code of law than other legal systems Israeli law is based on.

His words generated an outpouring of condemnation from numerous political figures on the Center-Left, and even a rebuke from the prime minister, who tweeted in response that Israel is not headed for halachic rule to which I earlier answered.

To which we must ask, “Then why the need for a Jewish State bill in a self-declared Jubilee year, Benjamin?”

But beyond the political posturing and point scoring, what is Israel’s reality in 2019, where is the country headed in its attitude to religion, and is a “halachic state” really something to be concerned about?

RABBI RONEN LUBICH, president of the liberally inclined National-Religious lobbying group Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah, is highly skeptical of claims that Israel will slip into an overtly religious state governed by Jewish [Talmudic] law, as envisioned by doom mongers comparing Israel to the Islamic Republic of Iran and other theocracies.

The rabbi said that the notion of governing the State of Israel by Halacha is technically impossible for two main reasons: the lack of consensus as to who can legitimately issue decisions of a halachic nature, and the obstacles to the rule of Jewish law presented by modern life.

He is right. Which Jewish sect will get to make halachic decisions for everyone else? You see, if Israel becomes a religious Jewish State, the Knesset will no longer govern the people because the Knesset is a civil ruling body. The Sanhedrin, however, would be the ruling body.

The problem with a Sanhedrin ruling over Israelis is not only that Israel is full of secular people who will revolt, but also because the Talmud does not agree with itself. For every topic and problem raised, the Talmud lists many, sometimes dozens, of Rabbinic opinions mostly which do not agree with the other Rabbis.

Thus, the Sanhedrin would have to rule on which of these opinions to adhere to. This action would then lead to the Prime Minister of Israel being the head of the Sanhedrin because only the Nasi or head of the Sanhedrin can break a tie or make a final decision. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not a member of the Sanhedrin or qualified to rule over it.

Israel was formed as a secular State. Changing it to a religious State will cause the rejection of millions of Jews who are not religious. Those religious sects who are not Orthodox or Ultra-Orthodox will also be rejected as they have been since the Jewish State bill became law. The Reform, Conservative and Messianic sects will be rejected under Rabbinic Sanhedrin Talmud law at a time when Israel needs as many citizens as it can get.

“We are not getting closer to rabbinical agreement, but going further apart. There is no agreed-upon authority or institution that makes religious decisions which are accepted by everyone,” observed Lubich.

And halachic restrictions and strictures pertaining to banking and interest charges, Israeli agriculture, and Sabbath observance would severely damage the country’s ability to function as a modern state, he argued.

Additionally, using Jewish law to govern the State of Israel would have a negative effect on the rights and equality of many citizens, including non-Jews, women, gays and others.

But even if a full-fledged halachic state is not a realistic eventuality, Lubich does express concern about increasing efforts by both the haredi and hard-line National-Religious political parties to pass and implement laws increasing the role of religion in public life.

“I am very concerned that, to a certain extent, we will see a greater role for Jewish law and religion in public life,” said Lubich. “This is very dangerous. It will create a great deal of conflict, a lot of fear of religion, and will only do damage.”

Along with Smotrich’s comments this week was a separate story in which it emerged that the haredi United Torah Judaism Party demanded in its coalition agreement with the Likud the passage of a law that would allow gender separation in “the provision of public services, studies [and] events.”

In theory, gender-separate public services could include state-sanctioned separate seating on public transport, at health clinics and many other areas of public life.

UTJ also reportedly demanded in its coalition negotiations greater restrictions on the violation of Shabbat in the public domain, as efforts by haredi leaders and activists to halt commercial activity and construction works on the Sabbath have stepped up considerably in recent years.


In addition, legislation was advanced in the Knesset by the haredi parties to grant the state Rabbinical Courts equal status to the civil courts in matters of property law.

And there were even efforts during the course of the last government to stop Israel’s professional soccer league from staging games on Shabbat, notably by former minister Uri Ariel of the hard-line National-Religious party the National Union.

Lubich said he is “very worried” by these kind of developments, especially in light of the fact that such demands could be implemented merely through the political power of the religious parties and their leverage in coalition negotiations.

SIMILARLY, PROF. Yedidya Stern of the Israel Democracy Institute pointed to the heavy political clout of the haredi parties and the likelihood that it will grow even greater in the future, perhaps even the near future, with a commensurate impact on religious life in Israel.

He noted that the haredi parties in the most recent election obtained 16 seats, 13% of all Knesset seats, putting the sector’s political representation above its share of 12% of the total population.

Together with the five seats garnered by the hard-line National-Religious Union of Right-Wing Parties, whose leaders and supporting rabbis have adopted very stringent positions on matters of religion, the religious parties comprise over 17% of the Knesset.

And their power is heightened further when considering that the prospective government the prime minister was trying to assemble comprised just 65 MKs. In that scenario, the haredi and National-Religious parties would have constituted more than 32% of the governing coalition, giving it massive political heft.

Bearing in mind that turnout among the general population in the next elections in September is likely to be down due to voter apathy, and that voter turnout among the haredi parties will likely remain the same due to the religious obligation haredi rabbis put on voting, the religious bloc of parties could get even bigger.

This is important because it is these religious parties that are involved with Chabad which is trying to bring forward their Jewish messiah, who we know will be one of the Antichrists, and the Jewish supremacy doctrine and attempting to bring the whole world under the Noahide laws.

Stern argued that Smotrich’s comments were likely more about utopian aspirations for the State of Israel, but noted that the hard-line National-Religious community and its rabbis, whom Smotrich represents, very much do want to implement the norms of Jewish law in Israeli state law.

Like Lubich, he noted previous efforts of National-Religious leaders to implement such ideas and said a return to this agenda is now possible, and he said that the role of religion in public life will likely increase due to demographic trends and the high birth rate in the haredi and National-Religious sectors.

But Stern said that increasing radicalization on religious issues among the haredi community is not a given, noting the changes that have taken place in haredi society in recent years, with increasing numbers of ultra-Orthodox men and women studying in higher education, gaining employment and even joining the army.

These trends “are pushing haredim into being more open to society,” he said, and opined that “the more they go this way, the less they will want to separate themselves and accede to conservative ultra-Orthodox attitudes.”

He also noted that the direction taken by the masses of the haredi community also depends to some extent on how the state handles the issue of their integration into society.

Raising yeshiva subsidies and welfare benefits for the sector, as the last government did, will and did stop haredi men in particular from obtaining employment, a great moderating factor on the community.

Providing money for higher education in the haredi sector would have the opposite effect, as would, says Stern, allowing gender-separate higher education studies, since both policies would again push larger numbers of haredi men into the workforce.

He also warned of efforts to neuter the Supreme Court and strip it of its ability to strike down Knesset legislation, saying that the court may in the future be the only institution that stands in the way of laws that bring religious strictures into the public domain.

The haredi parties and the Union of Right-Wing Parties are both adamantly in favor of constraining the Supreme Court in this matter. The ultra-Orthodox in particular want to stop the court from striking down mass military service exemptions for yeshiva students, as it has done three times in the past.

Ironically, Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman has both supported a law for the Knesset to override the High Court, while also championing the cause of reducing the influence of religion in public life, insisting he won’t let the haredi parties create a “halachic state.”

Indeed, the current political turmoil is due to Liberman having blocked the creation of a coalition after the April election over religion and state issues, notably IDF service.

Demographic and political trends do not look favorable at the moment for those looking to halt the increasing influence of religion and Jewish law in Israel public life, as has been witnessed in recent years with culture battles over these issues.

Although a “halachic state” or “Jewish republic” does not appear likely in the near future, it appears that efforts to halt the gradual encroachment of religion into Israeli daily life will become much more difficult in the coming years.

Haaretz posted that Israel will not be governed by Jewish religious law, and in fact no government has ever been ruled in accordance with halakha. In the time of King David, not only was there no halakha as yet, but by the time halakha came about, with the completion of the Mishna in the second century, there was no longer an independent kingdom of Israel [to rule over]. And in the intervening period, the Hasmonean Kingdom absorbed Hellenistic concepts (Aristobulus and Hyrcanus are not Hebrew names), and persecuted and executed Jewish sages.

So when he speaks about Israel “returning to operate as it did in King David’s time,” MK Bezalel Smotrich is denying history. No wonder: Historical ignorance is a prerequisite for any fundamentalist vision, according to Haaretz.

Haaretz further reports that the problem with halakha as it is today is not that its laws are bizarre or anachronistic. Yes, the punishment for theft is a fine amounting to twice the value of the stolen item which is true of Talmud but not Torah, a ludicrous penalty that would permit people of means to steal to their hearts’ delight. Yes, halakha prohibits women from testifying or serving as judges which is true of Talmud but not Torah [and which is] an insult to the intelligence of any rational human being. Such details can presumably be modified and updated.

The real problem is the fundamental understanding of humanity in halakha. According to halakha, human beings must obey divine law and cannot legitimately choose to do otherwise.

However, we also know that the Jewish supremacy ideology says only Jews are human, thus non-Jews – sub-species – are not permitted to obey the Talmud.

Simply put, halakha minimizes the significance of individual autonomy, expanding importance for some while curtailing even being known as human for others. The compulsion to observe the commandments is part of halakha, and it is also no coincidence that halakha permits both slavery and pedophilia, according to the rules of the Talmud which are very different from the Torah. When there is no unequivocal recognition of the individual as an autonomous subject, then enslavement becomes acceptable, and when choice and consent are not a necessary condition for sexual relations, it’s no wonder that it is permissible to have sex with someone who cannot choose (and, on the other hand, consensual sex between people of the same sex is prohibited) [and should be according to the Torah].

The laws of marriage and divorce, over which the Chief Rabbinate holds a legal monopoly, have become a mechanism for coercion and injustice. Nonreligious couples are compelled to marry not in keeping with their beliefs, women are discriminated against under the marriage canopy as well as in the divorce laws and the rabbinical courts abuse many who come before them. Even without the blatant corruption and nepotism that is so rampant in the rabbinate, it would still be despised by the public – simply because the modern conscience rebels against coercion and discrimination.

Smotrich, whose “decision plan,” published two years ago, called for the Palestinians to either agree to live as subjects or to choose between emigration [that’s deportation] and death, has proved before that democratic principles are of no interest to him. It’s no surprise to find him leading the theocratic charge. Hardalim, or ultra-Orthodox Zionists, account for just 2 percent of Israel’s Jewish population, but intoxicated with the political power given to them by Netanyahu, they mistakenly believe the time has also come for their fundamentalist ideas. Placing them in the centers of decision-making will clearly lead to religious coercion and a shrinking of civil liberty.

“There is also a lot of room for democracy in Torah law,” Smotrich hastened to reassure everyone, following the uproar over his comments touting the imminent return of the Kingdom of the House of David. But this is not correct. There is room for Torah law in democracy, but not the reverse. The relationship is always one-way, because one conception is fundamentally tolerant and insists on individual rights and freedom of religion, while the other does not. Should Smotrich and company obtain the kind of power they desire, we will all be made quite aware of this.

The outcome of the September elections remains up in the air. However, it is unlikely that Avigdor Lieberman, should his party again win enough seats to matter in the making of a coalition in the elections in September, will roll over to let the religious Ultra-Orthodox win the day.

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