| Podcast: The Rose Report |

New! Readers’ Mailbag

In today’s segment, I answer readers questions about my recent article on Aliyah; if annexation is still on the agenda; if Donald Trump can bounce back in the only poll that really counts, and whether the chareidi Knesset members are losing confidence in Bibi


When Mishpacha published its first English magazine in 2004, management decided that when appropriate, we would put a picture of the writer interacting with his interview subject in the article.

Initially, I was wary. I’m not shy, but I did not want to be the star of my own article. I wanted my work to speak for itself. As time went on, I came to appreciate the idea. I wasn’t just a faceless writer. Readers recognized me. They would stop me on the street, talk to me in shul – after davening was over of course – and even in airports or on an Egged bus, asking me about something I wrote or sometimes, to get a more unplugged take on current events.

Today, I’m taking this to the next step with this new column, where you ask and I answer. Here are a few questions that have come my way in recent days.

(A reader in Ramat Beit Shemesh questioned one of the propositions in my recent article on Aliyah that the state of Israel should create incentives for wealthy people from chutz l’aretz to make Aliyah.) My question for you, he asked, especially from the perspective and hashkafah of a chareidi publication: 

Is it the right approach for us to make mass aliya incumbent on the government creating luxurious realities?

I agree that the primary motivating factor for making Aliyah should be a quest for the spiritual. Chazal tell us the meraglim failed in their mission, partly out of fear that they would lose their prominent positions upon entering the Land of Israel. Yet, remember, that every Jew who did enter the land received their own ancestral plot of private land. They didn’t have regional and city planning boards hampering their efforts. People like to say that Israel is a little country. It is, but it’s big enough to fit the world’s 15-million Jews. The problem is the government owns 90% of the land. It shouldn’t be their own private domain. It should belong to the people. Israel needs a Homestead Act like America crafted to settle the West. Let Jews acquire land cheaply and build a nice home. I guarantee more people would make Aliyah if they had that opportunity.

A reader from the UK mused:
“You wrote quite a bit recently about annexation as if it were imminent. Now it seems like it’s off the agenda. What happened?

Many people contend that both the US and Israel are too busy battling the Coronavirus to take on the world, but I would say the reason annexation is not off the agenda – but on hold  – is because there are too many objections. The Arabs don’t like it because they see Israel getting all the goodies upfront without having to give anything in return. In Israel, much of the right wing – sees it just the opposite -- that Israel is giving up 70% of Yesha. What do we get in return? Formal control of the 30% that we already control informally? Much of Israel’s security establishment warn that annexation will spark regional instability. So the risk-reward ratio is low. If Trump wins a second term, he will have time to go back to the drawing board and tinker with it, but for now, it’s on hold.

Which brings us to the next question from a reader in Lakewood.

President Trump trails Joe Biden by about 10% in most national polls, but Trump also trailed Hillary Clinton by a similar margin in 2016 and he overcame it. Why are people so pessimistic about Trump’s chances now when he has proven he can come from behind?

The simple answer is that Biden doesn’t come with the same baggage that Hillary did. A lot of Democrats had a visceral dislike for Hillary and the Clinton brand – a name which they associate with scandals and black voters associate with white privilege. Nobody called her Aunt Hillary like they call Biden Uncle Joe. Whether you like his politics or not, Biden was a US senator and vice president for 40 years and he didn’t make enemies. It will be harder for Trump to overcome a lead held by someone people like. Also, if you crunch the numbers, Clinton’s lead in most of the states she needed to win rarely exceeded the margin of error. Biden’s lead is bigger. He’s even got a chance in Texas, which no Democrat has won since 1976. Trump does have plenty of time to turn things around but he’s got a higher mountain to climb.

Finally, a reader in Beitar noted that the chareidi parties seem to be cozying up to Benny Gantz and have expressed a growing frustration with Netanyahu.

Is this just a political ploy or is it a sign that the chareidi parties are veering to the left?

I would answer first by saying that it is Netanyahu who broke up the solid Likud-chareidi- right wing bloc that served him so well over more than a year of political turmoil by excluding Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked’s Yamina party from the coalition. Political loyalty is an oxymoron and as a sectoral party, the chareidi MKs are looking to protect their interests. The chareidim have every right to be distressed by – shall we say – the uneven way in which corona virus guidelines have been enforced. How come 10,000 people can demonstrate in Rabin Square but 200 bochurim can’t learn in yeshiva? Why can a restaurant serve 50 people but a shul is limited to 20? I recently quipped that at least when shuls serve a Kiddush, they should be enjoying restaurant status. In the meantime, the chareidim are looking ahead to a time when Benny Gantz will take over as prime minister according to the rotation agreement and they’ve got to maintain relationships with everyone.

This is Binyamin Rose for Mishpacha.com

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