Bibi's Western Wall and conversion bluff

Matti Golan

Netanyahu's sell out of US Jewry is not what it seems.

Bibi recognizes reality better that many of his critics. He is well aware of the damage than can be done by a confrontation with US Jewry and so the most logical explanation is that Bibi probably believes that his decision will not be implemented.

So why is Bibi doing this?

It's difficult to believe that Benjamin Netanyahu does not understand the significance of surrendering to the haredim (ultra-Orthodox) on the issues of the Western Wall and conversion. He is being inundated with criticism, reminded that he is dealing with the powerful US Jewish community that we still need, if we want to survive. The fact is that Bibi knows all this better than many of those who are railing against him.

So why is Bibi doing it? Doesn't he care about alienating US Jews from Israel, and that they will halt their donations and won't come visit, and won't invite him on the lecture tours that he is fond of? It defies logic. For sure he doesn't want all these things to happen. For sure he desires strong ties with Diaspora Jewry. For sure he understands the importance of this bond.

Not even threatening

But if this is the case why is he doing it? Why is he giving the haredim what they want and so easily? They don't even plan leaving the coalition. He understands better than most of us that there is nothing to worry about on that score. The haredim aren't even really threatening and even if they were Bibi knows that the threats would be a bluff. So why?

In terms of logic it seems that the reason is that Bibi doesn't really believe that his concessions on the Western Wall and conversion will be put into practice. He's probably certain that his decisions will be overturned in one place or another. Most likely it will happen in the High Court of Justice. But it could also happen in the political realm and even from his own political party. There can be no doubt that US Jewry will not remain silent. It knows how to put on the pressure no less effectively than the haredi political parties. And even the haredim are not interested in a crisis with US Jewry because it might also harm them.

Put briefly, instead of quarreling with the haredim or infuriating them, Bibi is playing a game. Then he can shrug his shoulders and say I tried but you saw what happened and it just didn't work out.

There are those who will ask, is this leadership? Is that the way to lead a country? Before answering that question which seems so simple, it is worth thinking a little. It looks like manipulative or cowardly conduct, not about leadership but about survival. On the other hand, can there be leadership without survival? Isn't survival one of the most important components of leadership? Because what's a leader worth if he doesn't survive? Of course everything depends on the forces that are supposed to stop the Western Wall and conversion initiative doing their job.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 26, 2017

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2017

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