The Day After

Analyzing the results of the elections in Israel arouses joy, pride, but also serious worry.

B’chasdei Hashem, UTJ gained two mandates, and Shas held its own. Considering the dire situation that prevailed in the last two weeks, this may be seen as a miracle. After all, both the UTJ and Shas suffer from self-detractors.

In the case of the UTJ, many  eligible voters who would naturally support this party were apathetic. “Who needs politics?” was their attitude. Thus, this victory can be largely attributed to the achdus which was engendered at the last minute, resulting in UTJ winning seven seats.

The unfortunate fact that Shas only kept their original 11 seats is most likely the result of thousands of votes gone to waste for candidates whose new parties did not cross the minimum threshold.

While the combined number of 18 seats is significant, in Israel’s complex political system, nothing can be taken for granted.

Furthermore, the big surprise that everyone is talking about is a scary one. A quick look into the agenda of Yesh Atid, a quick look into the history of its leader, paints a frightening picture about the kind of battle that Torah Jewry can expect.

Despite the gains achieved by the chareidi parties, there is the justfiable fear that they may become an irrelevant “fifth- wheel” and fall to the wayside in the coalition building.

Tuesday was only the first phase of the elections, and all the theories, predictions, and analyses being made now by the so-called experts are meaningless. Mr. Netanyahu has 45 days to put together a coalition. Only then will the real issues come up at the bargaining table.

We are not worried for Mr. Netanyahu. He is a smart politician who knows what’s good for his career, his party, and his partner, Mr. Lieberman. What remains to be seen is how much loyalty he will have for his previous partners — the chareidi parties.

What also remains to be seen is whether Mr. Lapid will trade in his ideals for position and money. A cunning and charismatic politician, his strategies of undermining Torah principles are perhaps the most dangerous by far.

A noteworthy postscript: When you tally up the number of newly elected chareidi/religious members of the Knesset, you come to a surprisingly high number. Simple and shocking observations point to the fact that more than a few of these chose to work for, fight for, and identify themselves with parties whose overt and covert agendas are clearly anti-religious.

One can only wonder, where is their conscience?

So many tough questions, so few answers. Until the final deal is struck, it will be a nasty and tense chess game.