The panic in the US surrounding Israel’s next government is about politics, not values


As far as many American Jews are concerned, this time the Israelis have gone too far. After more than four decades of tolerating, with decreasing patience and growing disdain, Israeli governments that were led by the Likud Party, the results of this week’s Knesset election go beyond the pale for a lot of liberals.

Their angst is not so much focused on the return to power of Benjamin Netanyahu for his third stint as the Jewish state’s prime minister, even though he is widely viewed by many Jewish Democrats as the moral equivalent of a red-state Republican. The panic about the election results is caused by the fact that the Religious Zionist Party and its leaders, Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, will play a leading role in the next governing coalition. The party won 14 seats, making it the third largest in the Knesset and an indispensable part of the majority that Netanyahu is about to assemble.

” … Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

A narrow government with Ben Gvir and Smotrich threatens US-Israel ties | The Times of Israel

The prospect of Smotrich (right), and especially Ben-Gvir (left), sitting in Netanyahu’s Cabinet has not just set off a bout of pearl-clutching on the part of liberal Jewish groups. It’s also led to the sort of ominous rhetoric describing a crack-up of the relationship between American and Israeli Jews that goes beyond the usual rumblings about the growing distance between the two communities.

There are legitimate questions to be posed about Smotrich and Ben-Gvir. Time will tell whether they are up to the challenge of their new responsibilities and act in a manner that helps, rather than hurts, Netanyahu’s efforts to consolidate support for his government at home and abroad. But what no one seems to be considering is whether the rush to judgment about them says more about Diaspora Jewry’s obsessions than it does about the embrace of nationalist and religious parties by Israel’s voters.

The pair are the embodiment of everything that most American Jews don’t like about the Jewish state. Their unapologetic nationalism and perceived hostility to Arabs, gays and non-Orthodox Judaism are anathema to liberal Americans.

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