Elazar Stern to ‘Post’: I am disappointed in the relgious-Zionist MKs – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on June 26, 2020

In a recent party meeting, a member of Knesset made the following comment: Our experience with religious-Zionist MKs hasnt been much of a success. He said this with a touch of humorist sarcasm, but then I began to rack my brain, trying to think which MKs from Yesh Atid and Telem were from the National-Religious camp. And truth be told, I couldnt think of even one we could be proud of. I could think of a few who used to appear on these lists, but who had defected to other parties at some point. In the most recent election campaign, theyd sat with us as part of the national-religious sector team that mainly discussed Jewish-Zionist-democratic dogma that we bring to Israel, which to a certain extent is the reason why religious-Zionist political parties were created in the first place.Other members of Knesset who proudly represent even still today the national-religious sector along with me include MKs Yoaz Hendel, Michal Cotler-Wunsh, Tehila Friedman and Pnina Tamano-Shata. We have formulated messages, and gone to parlor house meetings (sometimes together), most of which were held to discuss issues from the viewpoint of religious Zionism, such as the Gavison-Medan Covenant and recognizing Shabbat as an official day of rest, conversion in the spirit of the IDF Nativ course, halachic conversion led by the late Rabbi Nahum Rabinovitch, Rabbi Yaakov Medan and Rabbi David Stav, alternative kashrut supervision through organizations such as Tzohar and including women in the Chief Rabbinate Council body. We thought we were bringing an old/new dogma.Our previous platform promised: Honest concern for the Jewish-democratic image of the State of Israel, which requires public discussion of issues relating to religion and state. We must open the status quo to joint public discussion, from a feeling of partnership, not conflict. But all of this has been carried away with the wind. My fellow national-religious sector team members have all defected from their parties. Who will believe them in the next election campaign? Who will believe them when they claim theres still reason to hope? Everyone based their actions on different ideologies, be it sovereignty, Zionism or hatred of the Arabs. But the truth is, everyone secured for themselves seats through their so-called ideological desertion.Hendel and Tamano-Shata were promised ministries, while Friedman and Cotler-Wunsh were promised seats in the Knesset. To this list we must, of course, add Rafi Peretz, who also deserted his party of course for ideological reasons in favor of a seat in one of the many chairs at the governmental table whose new monstrous size presents a challenge no architect or carpenter has yet overcome.These members of Knesset who defected from their parties already knew at the time of their defection that the Jewish identity of the State of Israel depended on or more accurately was being forfeited by them, and certainly with their support of a haredi (ultra-Orthodox) worldview. The agreement they have now committed to backing reads, The status quo will be maintained on the issues of religion and state, as it has been for decades in Israel. In the case that a change that would adversely affect the status quo were to be suggested, the prime minister would work together in mutual commitment with the Likud bloc to fix the violation, in order to maintain the status quo.This means that, with regard to any bill I propose regarding the status of women; conversion; Shabbat or kashrut, they need to either oppose during a plenum session, or to invent a doctors appointment in order to not be present when it comes time for voting. According to the agreement they have signed, if the Supreme Court decides to intervene on issues regarding religion and state they are obligated to support legislation that circumvents Supreme Court rulings. I would like to remind all the people who disparage the Supreme Courts meddling in these issues that there are TV broadcasts on Shabbat and kashrut certification from Tzohar thanks to the intervention of the High Court of Justice.I also wanted a unity government. I know that when you form a coalition everyone is forced to make concessions, some of which are painful. If everyone had the same platform, we would not have needed this partnership in the first place. Compromise is necessary. But in this case, there was no compromise. With respect to the issues of religion and state, a bulldozer razed all ideas of progressive Judaism that brings us all together regarding the State of Israels Jewish Zionist identity, and all of this is the result and due to the support of all those defecting members of Knesset.In other words, a bulldozer has razed all our hopes that are delineated in Blue and Whites platform: We will promote widespread reform in the kashrut industry in an effort to make it more transparent, accessible, open and more advanced. We will work to ensure that women receive proper representation in all state institutions, including the religious and rabbinical institutions. We will work to arrange prayer areas in the courtyard area of the Western Wall. We will work towards establishing a conversion authority that is fair, enlightened and relevant to the modern times, while still adhering to halachic rules.It would not be a surprise to my fellow members of Knesset in Blue and White and Yesh Atid if I were to say that I would be willing to make compromises in order to be part of an government, and certainly a unity government. And yet, anyone who knows me certainly knows I would never be willing to be a member in a Knesset that does not promote fair conversion, that would endorse assimilation and distancing from Judaism, that would sanctify the status quo and, even more specifically, pushes people away instead of bringing them closer. These individuals didnt just defect from their parties, they defected from an entire worldview.Why do any of us get involved in politics in the first place? For the honor and to snag a seat or in order to fulfill our ideological yearnings? To my greatest dismay, it hurts me to admit that representatives of the religious-Zionist camp, which was and still is an ideological movement that really and truly puts values before personal advancement, have succeeded in politics mostly due to an incomprehensible number of defections, and by putting personal status before ideology, even at the expense of the State of Israels Jewish identity.The writer is a member of Knesset from the Yesh Atid Party.

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Elazar Stern to 'Post': I am disappointed in the relgious-Zionist MKs - The Jerusalem Post

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