Israel's Left Is Missing Boat on Anti-Haredi Coalition Alliance

Labor Puts Peace Dream Ahead of Ending Draft Exemption

getty images

By Hillel Halkin

Published March 06, 2013, issue of March 08, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Although there has never been much sympathy for Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community in any part of the country’s secular society, suddenly this has changed.

As the prospects improve for a Netanyahu-Lapid-Bennett (or Likud-Yesh Atid-Habayit Hayehudi) coalition whose first project will making military service compulsory for the Haredi youth that has until now been exempt from it, indignant cries are being raised on the Israeli left.

Such a coalition, it is proclaimed, will constitute an unholy alliance; better pure religious extremists like the ultra-Orthodox than nationalistically religious ones like the settlers who dominate Habayit Hayehudi; Israel needs peace talks with the Palestinians, not more soldiers to prolong the occupation of Palestinian territory.

Where, asks the left, are the Labor Party and Shelly Yachimovich? Why don’t they consent to the coalition with Labor and the Haredim that Benjamin Netanyahu would like to form in order to keep Habayit Hayehudi out of his government?

Yet even if one grants that peace with the Palestinians is Israel’s most urgent task, this argument is misguided.

Of all Israel’s problems, three alone imperil its existence. These are the problem of the West Bank Palestinians, the problem of the country’s Arab citizens, and the problem of its Haredim. The first problem involves a population that Israel cannot absorb without destroying itself; the second and third, populations it must absorb to avoid destroying itself. Solving all three problems is critical, although in terms of the dangers they pose if not solved, that of the West Bank is the greatest, followed by that of Israeli Arabs. That of the Haredim comes third.

In terms of solvability, however, the order of the problems is unfortunately reversed.

The West Bank-Palestinian problem is the least soluble; right now, in fact, it can’t be solved at all, because the sides to the dispute are too far apart.

Next hardest is the Israeli Arab problem; the solutions for it exist but not the political will to carry them out.

Easiest is the problem of the Haredim. Here, too, the solutions are known – and as a result of January’s elections, the political constellation that can implement them does exist for the first time in Israel’s history.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.