The year 5779 will go down in Israel’s history as the year of elections. Nothing like it has ever happened. We had three election campaigns — one for the municipal elections and two for Knesset. After months of campaigning and the investment of billions of shekels to win the hearts of voters (not to mention the NIS 4 billion it cost the Israeli economy as a result of three lost work days), nothing very dramatic happened. There were no big surprises.
In the municipal elections in chareidi cities, the pre-agreed representatives were duly elected. In mixed cities like Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh, the election campaigns were very emotional and led to a deep rift between different communities and factions. Elected officials had to spend the first few months after the municipal elections just healing wounds and restoring peace.
United Torah Judaism advanced to the Knesset elections with the greatest possible unity. While the first round of the general elections centered on economic and security issues, the second round, which began five months ago and ended last week, featured unprecedented incitement against the chareidi community. The results of this incitement will become clear in the next few months.
The issue of halachic conversion was not resolved in 5779. That which is most holy for us, which has kept us as a nation for thousands of years and for which the most basic compliance with halachah is required, is not yet enshrined in Israeli law.
Shabbos, the holiest day of the week, the symbol of the Jewish people, is being disrespected across the country. Chareidi politicians will fight against public transportation and businesses open on Shabbos in the coming year. The message will be: Shabbos isn’t just for the religious. Far from it. It’s for everyone.
The subject of prayer at the Kosel has also yet to be resolved. The place closest to our hearts, to the Beis Hamikdash, is still at risk of being compromised by nonreligious Jews.
May we merit that a year should descend on us full of kedushah, a year of geulah, a year of redemption, of love, and brotherhood, and peace.
Mis-Quotes of The Year
“B’nefol oyevecha al tira, ub’govrum al yirach levavcha [When your enemy falls do not be afraid, and when he triumphs, do not be disheartened].”
—Blue and White party’s Benny Gantz, speaking after the April elections, misquoted and combined two different pesukim, one from Mishlei and the other from Devarim. The actual pesukim are “b’nefol oyevecha al tismach” (do not rejoice at the fall of your enemy — Mishlei 24:17) and “v’al yirach levavchem” (and do not be disheartened — Devarim 20:3).
“Ad masai reshaim ya’alozu, v’tzaddikim yazilu dimah.”
—A few days after Gantz’s misquote, fellow party member Moshe Yaalon ended a speech with a verse from Tehillim, the latter half of which is fictitious.
Stat of the Year
The number of rockets and missiles fired at Israel in 5779. The missile strikes resulted in three deaths and 32 injured, of whom six were in moderate or severe condition.
An incident last week at a voting booth in Herzliya:
One of the election observers does a double take with an identity card presented to him by a yeshivah bochur wanting to vote. In the picture, the bochur is wearing earrings and has a Mohawk haircut.
The observer, who is chareidi, says to the bochur, “So you too were caught by Rav Yedidya [Hava, a rav who helps many teenagers be chozer b’teshuvah]?”
The bochur affirms it, but says he can’t talk, as he must hurry back to the yeshivah in Be’er Yaakov.
This is expected to be a challenging year both from the diplomatic and military angles.
From the diplomatic angle — the peace plan of President Trump is expected to be presented soon, likely arousing deep divisions within Israeli society. Many are wary of concessions and compromises. History bears out their concerns.
In the meantime, rockets are being fired at Israel from Gaza. ISIS is gaining strength in Sinai, and tension with Jordan is high.
From a military perspective — will Israel embark on a serious campaign in Gaza to topple the rule of Hamas? The goal is stopping the barrage of missiles on Israel. The only consideration preventing such a campaign until now has been: What will replace Hamas? Three weeks ago, after a Grad missile was fired at Ashdod, forcing Binyamin Netanyahu to take shelter in the middle of a campaign rally, the prime minister made up his mind to launch a strong retaliatory blow against Hamas. The cabinet approved his decision. But IDF chief of staff Aviv Kochavi and Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman objected strongly, out of fear that war would break out.
It’s possible that next year the subject will finally be resolved.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 779)
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