By: Dan Juster
Benjamin Netanyahu (nicknamed Bibi) has, for now, solidified his leadership in Israel. I think many in Israel voted for him because they felt safer with the continuity of his leadership. In my opinion, there are many positives and many negatives for Israel in having another term with Bibi as Prime Minister. Here are some likely advantages.
- First, there will be a continuation of a conservative economic management which has led to very low unemployment and increased wages. Under Finance Minister Kahlon’s leadership, Israel has expanded housing options. The increase in the cost of living has slowed.
- Secondly, there will be a continuation of Bibi’s strong foreign policy, which amazingly has developed a relationship with the Arab nations (in opposition to Iran), a strong relationship with the Trump administration and surprisingly a decent relationship with Russia! He has opened up African and South American connections at historic levels.
- Thirdly, due to the alliance with the ultra-Orthodox and national Orthodox parties, the LGBTQ+ agenda will not be furthered. In addition, as part of the fight against human trafficking there has now been strong legislation to criminalize paying for prostitution. In regards to the Palestinian leadership, it is my view that they have not been serious about building lasting peace with Israel. Netanyahu will continue to manage the conflict seeking to foster Palestinian stability. [Some think that he needs to punish Hamas, remove their weapons and capture their terrorist leaders. This is a complex issue with no easy solution.]
On the other hand, in my opinion, here are some of the drawbacks to Netanyahu’s continued government, especially in the areas of human rights.
- Many Russian Jews and mixed marriage Jews are not accepted as adequately Jewish by the ultra-Orthodox and are denied legal status as Jews. They are not given any option for an official marriage officiated inside of Israel! The conversion process offends them since they already see themselves as legitimately Jewish. Avigdor Liberman of Yisrael Beiteinu is fighting on this issue.
- Many thousands of Ethiopian Jews waiting to come to Israel are not likely to gain this goal since the majority of the ultra-Orthodox do not look on them with favor. There is racism in their attitudes to these black Jews. This is tragic and unjust.
- Shas, the Sephardic Orthodox party under formerly convicted and jailed (!) Aryeh Deri, will continue to control the Interior Department and make it challenging for those who wish to move to Israel under the Law of Return (under which people with a Jewish parent or grandparent have the right to receive Israeli citizenship). Many applicants are legally qualified for citizenship but Shas will seek to keep them out. This also has very negative repercussions for Messianic Jews.
- The ultra-Orthodox are constantly working to change Israel’s basic laws so that Orthodox Jews who study Talmud will be released from military service. I am amazed at the number of secular people who voted for Netanyahu knowing this to be one of the issues that could be affected.
Many Evangelicals in other countries really love Bibi, without realizing what a combination of positive and negative elements he will bring with him into the next government. Let us continue to intercede that God will use Bibi to bring about changes that align with God’s principles and not the self-serving goals of the far right and the Orthodox.