Weekly Commentary: Smotrich - Shas Elections Bloc Pipe Dream or Practical
Dr. Aaron Lerner 18 October, 2020
Let us set aside for the moment who is right and who is wrong. Who is truly
to blame and who may just be a scapegoat.
Because the next time Israeli go to the polls it is most likely going to be
a vote driven by emotions rather than facts.
There is going to be a huge number of angry, frustrated and fearful voters
convinced that the same Haredis, who by their behavior during COVID-19,
destroyed the economic lives which they worked so hard to build, will, by
their lifestyle which minimizes their contribution to GDP, make it next to
impossible to recover these losses.
I repeat. I am not here to discuss whether these voters are correct. Only
that this is what they think.
Who will they vote for?
Lapid's Yesh Atid? Maybe.
Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu? He is already campaigning for their votes.
Bennett's Yemina? Take the time to read any social media platform and you
will see Betzalel Smotrich's presence on the Yemina list cited again and
again and again as proof positive that Naftali Bennett's talk of liberal
pluralism are hollow words. Over and over and over again Smotrich supplies
the ammunition for this message. The latest is a front page feature in
BSheva with the headline "My mission in the long run is to build a religious
Zionist party. This critical need must under no conditions bow to this or
that political need, not even in order for there to be a religious prime
minister (AL: Bennett)."
So while Yemina moves ever closer to Likud in the polls, with Bennett
garnering support as the political leader who Netanyahu prevented from
saving the country and who has plans to get us out of the mess we are in,
many of the same people who tell pollsters they intend to vote Yemina will
ultimately be convinced to cast their ballots for Yisrael Beiteinu and Yesh
Is there a solution?
The 3.25% threshold makes having Smotrich's National Union run alone
courting political suicide.
Could Smotrich run in a bloc with Shas?
The Shas rabbinical leadership has a very vocal record attacking the
religious Zionist "kippot srugot".
Does the serious realism which drove the approach of the Shas Rabbis to the
COVID-19 challenge point to the possibility that practical politics can win
Whatever seats Smotrich wins for the bloc with Shas will most certainly
serve as votes in the Knesset to protect the "Torah world", while every seat
shifted from Yisrael Beiteinu and Yesh Atid to Yemina is one less
virulently anti-Haredi MK.
Pipe dream or practical politics?
That remains to be seen.
Or is there a simpler solution? If Yemina is polling 25+ seats come
election day and Smutrich and his ilk are positioned somewhere between 5 and
15 on the list, will liberal Yemina supporters vote Yemina despite Smotrich
since their ballot is getting number 20+ in and not Smotrich?
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