Published: 03.23.08, 16:55 / Israel Opinion
I saw the establishment of Shinui from up close. How close? I was there with the chicken soup at my parents' kitchen. My mother and I would sit there together and listen to the people yelling in the living room.
I am familiar with all the learned explanations about Shinui falling apart because of managerial problems or lack of attention to smalltime politics, but I was there, and excuse me if I say that those are only the small details that make up a much larger truth: Shinui fell apart because it succeeded too much.
Just like immigrant parties like the one led by Natan Sharansky, Shinui's success made it needless. The ultra-Orthodox learned their lesson. They realized that it is possible to form governments around here without them, that the secular public is fed up with their endless financial extortion, and that those who do not serve in the army have no right to scream that we mustn't leave Gaza. More then anything, they learned a lesson in modesty.
The moment the Orthodox signaled to us that they got the hint, we were happy to put away our banners. The secular public in Israel and I know you won't believe me, but Shinui's founders are included in this group does not hate the Orthodox. Our Jewish instinct does not allow us to hate people with white beards who study the Torah. If they don't live at our expense, there is no reason to give them a tough time.
Getting angry at ourselves
* A total of NIS 475 million (roughly $150 million) that was not part of the budget was earmarked for yeshivas.
* Before that, NIS 290 million (roughly $80 million) within the budget were earmarked for yeshivas.
* A total of NIS 8.6 million (roughly $2.5 million) was transferred for the purpose of covering the debts of religious councils, without a monitoring process.
* Shas' Benizri charged gays were at fault for earthquakes, while fellow party member Nissim Zeev said they should be taken care of "like we take care of bird flu."
* An attempt was undertaken to expand the powers of rabbinical courts.
* The "Internet censorship bill" passed its first reading.
* The regulations for appointing city rabbis were changed in order to appoint Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's son as Jerusalem's chief rabbi.
* Shas announced that it plans to reintroduce the law that provides larger child allowances starting with the 5th child. Here we are talking about billions, not millions.
Should I continue? Because there is plenty more. Not only the money is starting to flow back into Orthodox pocked, but also the arrogance. They overcame the trauma. We again look to them like a bunch of fools who would always do what they are told if they are just pressed a little.
Are you already starting to get annoyed?
The only reason we didn't notice immediately what was going on is that we are still blinking a little because of the Qassam smoke and tears in the wake of the funerals. In any other junction, one that would be less packed with security incidents, the amazing series of actions noted above would already prompt angry people to gather at crowded living rooms. "We need to do something," one person would say after the third coffee. "So why aren't we doing it?" another one will ask, just like the last time.
It will start off small, just like it did last time. At first we will get angry at them. Then we will get angry at ourselves, which is a much more dangerous kind of anger: We'll be angry at Olmert for transferring the money, at Labor's Isaac Herzog for initiating the rabbinical courts' legislation, at Tzipi Livni who voted in favor of reestablishing the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and at Danny Yatom, who backed the censorship bill.
Because this is what is most infuriating: The speed with which Israeli politics has gone back to suck up to the Orthodox. So listen to a man with experience: The new Shinui will not be established it has already been established. Just like the last time, nobody noticed it until it made it to the Knesset. Only this time around, my mom won't have to make chicken soup for them.
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