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Rose Report: Why Chareidim Are Ready for Elections

Binyamin Rose

Why would the chareidi parties terminate their dream government?

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

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P

olitical Chess

Why Chareidim Are Ready for Elections

We already know all the reasons the chareidi parties are “wrongheaded” for threatening to topple the government by voting against the 2019 state budget — unless the coalition meets their demand to pass an airtight law exempting chareidim from the draft.

Such intransigence will play into the hands of their nemesis, Yair Lapid, who will campaign against chareidi extortionists trying to take over the country.

And despite Prime Minister Netanyahu’s legal woes, the current coalition has a stable majority, so why rock the boat now?

There’s one good reason. This time, the Supreme Court will uphold the chareidi draft exemptions.

Yes, you read that correctly.

In the past two years, six of Israel’s fifteen Supreme Court justices have reached the mandatory retirement age of 70. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked has engineered a palace coup, replacing each of those six justices, all liberals, with more balanced and conservative jurists.

While Shaked did not get her way on every pick, legal experts say last week’s appointments of Alex Stein and Ofer Grosskopf to the bench cements an eight-member conservative majority.

Here’s how the new alignment will support the chareidim.

Six months ago, the Supreme Court gave the Knesset one year to correct inequities in the old draft law that granted chareidim preferential treatment for IDF deferments and exemptions — a law the court said violated the Knesset’s 1992 Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty. The Supreme Court has always justified its judicial activism by arguing that Israel’s body of basic laws — the precursor to a constitution — has more legal force than regular legislation.

Rather than tweak the old law and risk having the court overturn it again, the chareidi parties, in consultation with their legal advisors, decided to introduce their own basic law, establishing Torah study as an “essential value” due to its longstanding status in Jewish tradition and ongoing contribution to national preservation. Once the Knesset has legally established Torah study as a value equal to or greater than IDF service, it could pass a companion measure granting the defense minister the power to grant blanket exemptions for chareidim ages 18 to 26.

In any future legal challenge, the Supreme Court would be faced with a new paradigm, being forced to rule between two competing basic laws. An activist court would probably relish such a fight. The chareidim hope that the new conservative majority would sidestep this legal mess and uphold any new draft law.

That’s one reason chareidim are willing to go to the political brink. Another reason is all the polls showing UTJ gaining two to four seats in the next election, embedding them as an even bigger power broker in any Likud-led coalition, with or without Binyamin Netanyahu.

Trump Talk

Jared Kushner’s New World Order

When President Trump’s son-in-law and trusted advisor lost his top-secret security clearance last week, many pundits predicted a hasty departure for Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka, while others contended this was one more example of an administration in disarray.

A New Yorker article titled “Jared Kushner’s Conflicts of Interest Reach a Crisis Point” added fuel to the fire, claiming Kushner’s quest to find new sources of financing for his troubled real estate holdings poses a risk to national security.

All the above contentions are legitimate, but ignore one overarching factor, says Jay Ogilvy, a member of Stratfor Global Intelligence’s board of contributors.

Drawing on the work of contemporary historian and legal scholar Philip Bobbitt, Ogilvy argues that the Trump-Kushner confederation is just one manifestation of a new world order in which “market states” emerge and nation-states submerge.

In a market state, politics as usual takes a backseat to economic interests, and what used to be viewed as a political conflict of interest becomes a convergence of economic interests.

“It’s all, supposedly, for the public good,” Ogilvy writes. “In the new logic of the market state, the economic entanglements of Kushner’s family business, both at home and abroad, are part of a new way for a country to do business.”

The same market-state model empowers a business mogul like Sheldon Adelson to offer to finance a large part of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, Ogilvy adds.

It’s certainly not business — or politics — as usual. One can vociferously debate the virtues and shortcomings of a market state and who its stewards should be.

But when you view the Trump-Kushner episode through Ogilvy’s and Bobbitt’s lenses, it’s clear that whether Kushner stays in DC or returns to New York, the phenomenon he has helped spark knows no borders.

Campaign 2018

Midterm Season Underway

The battle for control of Congress is underway. Texas was the first state to hold its Congressional primaries on Tuesday, while another influential state, Illinois votes in two weeks.

Both the GOP’s 238-193 majority in the House of Representatives and slim one-seat lead in the Senate are at stake, and at risk.

The Real Clear Politics generic poll shows Democratic candidates, on average, with a 10% lead in the polls over Republican candidates. Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics shows Republicans losing ground but retaining control by the slimmest of margins.

 

“The in-party always loses the first midterms, so it’s unsurprising the Democrats have an edge going into this,” says Mark Penn, co-director of the Harvard-Harris poll, which shows Democrats with a slimmer 5% lead in the generic polls.

Penn was a top strategist for President Clinton when the Democrats lost control of Congress during the 1994 midterms, and was instrumental in steering the Clinton administration back to the political center, so it could continue governing effectively.

“They [Democrats] shouldn’t confuse concerns with Donald Trump with a desire for the country to move to the left,” Penn said. “Only 27% of the country is liberal. That leaves three-quarters who are moderate or conservative.”

Penn warns that any Democratic Party gains in 2018 could dissipate long-term unless the party makes a similar wing to the center, adopting a stance of being both compassionate to the poor and pro-business. (Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 701)

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