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The return of Israel’s vicious far-Right Netanyahu is irreparably dividing the country


November 3, 2022   4 mins

Boris failed to make his comeback. Trump seems to want to, but probably won’t. Bolsonaro lost, thank God. But where others have failed, Benjamin Netanyahu has done it again. Despite all the scandals, the third coming of Bibi looks guaranteed. But this time it will be different, and not in a good way. In order to form the necessary coalition needed for government, Bibi will have to cosy up to the new Right-wing religious parties — although to describe them as Right-wing and religious is an insult to both terms.

“Kahanism Won” was the shocking headline of yesterday’s editorial in the liberal Haaretz newspaper. If that is the case, Israel is in more trouble than I ever thought possible. Born in the US, Meir Kahane was a radical orthodox rabbi and founder of the Israeli Kach party. He was convicted in America for manufacturing explosives. In Israel, he was convicted for the attempt to blow up the Libyan Embassy in Brussels, and arrested dozens of times for inciting violence against Palestinians. He saw himself as a modern-day Maccabee, railing against the assimilation of Israeli Jews into Western secular culture. His followers re-formed the first-century assassin group, the Sicarii, and targeted Left-wing Israeli politicians.

Kahane was elected to the Knesset in 1984. When he would get up to speak, other Jewish members would walk out en masse. In the 1988 elections, Kahane was barred from standing on the grounds of his “incitement to racism”. Two years later, Kahane was himself assassinated in New York, but his poisonous legacy lived on. Yigal Amir, the man who assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin 27 years ago, as he was making peace with Palestinians, is considered one of Kahane’s disciples.

So for Haaretz to claim “Kahanism won” is a warning from history: something far more dangerous than Bibi has emerged from these elections. Kahane’s party is no longer. But its grandchild, Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Strength) has clearly done well, as have Right-wing religious parties such as Shas — both of which Bibi will have to rely on if he is to become Prime Minister. All this at a time when Israeli society is more divided than ever before. And not just between Jews and Arabs, but between Israeli Jews themselves. Tel Aviv is a modern European city, with a strong Barcelona vibe. This is the land of the Toyota Prius. Most of the restaurants are not Kosher. You can buy bacon in the market. The nightlife and fashion are sexy and relaxed.

But in most places outside Tel Aviv, the feel is very different. In the religious areas, in the poor parts of the country (especially in the South), in the settlements — this is where the Right and the far-Right have their base. From the perspective of Tel Aviv, the ultra-orthodox feel like an 18th-century throwback. “Penguinim” is the commonly-whispered secular pejorative for their black clothing. The ultra-orthodox do not fight in the army and often have no regular paid employment. They are exempted in order to study Torah. And they have many children, which, of course, is shifting the electoral demographic. So there is resentment from those whose children are sent to Gaza to fight (and die) and who pay taxes to support a religious lifestyle they do not understand.

I spoke to friends and family in Tel Aviv yesterday morning. They are in despair: the place they once knew and loved — the place their grandparents built — is disappearing before their eyes. “What sort of a country are we leaving to our children?” one said to me, holding back the tears. Many want to leave, as my wife indeed has left, but don’t know where to go.

Yet from the perspective of the ultra-orthodox, the Jews of Tel Aviv are not really Jews. Or rather, they are Jews officially (because they have Jewish mothers), but they do not behave as Jews should. Mostly, the ultra-orthodox do not have much of a view about the secular parts of Tel Aviv because they have not been there, despite the fact that a Heredi community like Bnei Brak (the fifth-most densely populated city in the world) is just a couple of kilometres away.

One Israeli friend recently told me that he met a young boy in a park in Bnei Brak who had never heard of the Holocaust. I found this almost impossible to believe. But what is absolutely true is how little different parts of Israeli society talk to, still less understand, each other. They don’t even speak the same language — both literally and figuratively. When my wife and I watched Shtisel together on the telly, I was astonished to find that I, having a smattering of German, understood more of the Yiddish than she did.

But it’s not just the secular and the religious that don’t mix. This is a country that has also been butchered by Bibi’s extreme version of free-market capitalism. Caesarea, on the coast, where Bibi has a house, has the only golf club in Israel and extraordinary gated mansions set in large, well-policed and leafy streets. The vineyards of the Galilee find many takers — myself included, I confess — for wines the price of which would make the farmers of Burgundy blush with embarrassment.

Elsewhere, the poverty is crippling. In the South, where the rich won’t live because it is too close to the rockets from Gaza, there is little work and conditions are often crowded and unsanitary. Around the old bus station in Tel Aviv, immigrants from Africa live in dirt and squalor, with elderly ladies selling their bodies out of street-side booths for a few shekels. They don’t pass by these places when they take Christians on a tour of the Holy Land.

You don’t need to mention the occupation to describe Israel as a divided society. The Shas party has a point when they defend the Sephardic (Arabic Jewish) community against the inherent sense of cultural superiority of the Ashkenazi former Europeans. Religious and secular, rich and poor, with Jews from all over the world: this is one of the most diverse, if not to say divided, societies on Earth. That is what makes it such an exciting place to be, but also one of the most fragile.

Itamar Ben-Gvir, the Kahanist leader of Jewish Strength, openly advocates violence against Palestinians. And he is only 46, with growing popularity and potentially a long future in politics. I am not a citizen of Israel, though my wife and children are. I look at the country with the gaze of an outsider, albeit an adopted one. But I love the place. And yet today, I fear for its future more than ever.


Giles Fraser is a journalist, broadcaster and Vicar of St Anne’s, Kew.

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Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
1 year ago

Another in a long line of “don’t you dare make partnership with the ‘far-right'” that is so common in the European press today. Personally, I’m getting rather tired of “journalists” calling anyone to the right of Macron a fascist.

The people voted Bibi out 18months ago based on his scandals. The opposition proved they couldn’t govern (some of us predicted that.) So the people voted Bibi back in, and since the Left proved so inept, this time the people went further Right. That’s not fascism; that’s called parliamentary democracy.

Jacqueline Burns
Jacqueline Burns
1 year ago

I agree with you 100%
Of course the author starts his ‘article’ with a long diatribe against Kahane who is dead & buried but the fear factor is still, clearly, alive & kicking!
The fact is, a majority of Israeli citizens voted to secure their country & turn back the tide of pandering to their numerous terroristic neighbours to show the Jewish lion can still roar. They voted to remain the only Jewish State in mind & deed. The author only talks about how it is in secular Tel Aviv but that is not the whole of Israel either. As for the comment about a young boy not knowing about the Holocaust, I think you are more likely to find that amongst the secular than against the religious who know full well the horrors of that time in Jewish history as they have probably lived with family members who came through it. Has your friend ever asked a young boy in Germany about it? He will get a similar answer. Maybe that is WHY the orthodox want to ensure the Jewish future of the Jewish state.
By the way, why is it OK for Arabs to want their countries to be free of Jews & not for Jews to want their tiny sliver of land to be free of those who don’t support its existence & who even try to destroy both the State & its people even those who don’t live there for let’s not forget, it is not only Israel’s Jews that are in the terrorists gunsight! I don’t hear anyone calling them facist demagogues or extreme right-wingers.
Welcome back Bibi. You have been sorely missed.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago

Is it any wonder why some want to cling to their religious beliefs vs. caving into modern day secularism, with “Christians” fighting for abortion rights, transgenderism, cheating and stealing to win, gossiping about their neighbors, coveting every shiny new thing and raising hyper-sexualized children? You either must fight for what you believe in or give in to today’s culture. Read what happened to the ancient Jews many, many times in the Old Testament. There is always a fight with the ways of evil.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Part of this problem is that so many people cannot give an accurate definition of a Christian.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

“Bolsonaro lost, thank God”???? And now Brazil’s president is a communist who was jailed for corruption and will likely take his country down like Venezuela. I’d say it’s hard to believe this guy is a vicar, but the way the church has been going for the last 30 years, he’s sadly right on message.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
1 year ago

Absolutely agreed – to those of us who actually live in Brazil, at least half think that the Supreme Court sprung Lula on a technicality (jurisdiction) strictly as a political matter. (Jurisdiction somehow was never an issue when the Supreme Court (STE in portuguĂȘs) condemned him to 12 years in the can).

Not to mention that the so-called Palestinians, who rejected the two-state solution in 1948 and continue to agree with Iran and several other Muslim nations in the Middle East, continue to pursue the annihilation of Israel. Of course the Israelis want someone who will stand up to them.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Pearse

I am so sorry, Richard. And the fact that questioning the dubious “narrow margin” story is being wrapped in a plastic bag and tied around the neck with the enthusiastic aid of social media tells us, what? No, no! Everything is completely legit! The people WANT to eat their cats and dogs next year! The US will go the same way if the [D]s and their abettors don’t get crushed next week. And, even if they do, they never die, do they? They’re never punished (see Hillary Clinton – still haunting the world with her hideousness – and her priapric spouse). You’d think after over 100 years of Marxist failure, deprivation, torture, and murder, people would wise the he!! up. Good luck, Sir. Pray for our countries.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Pearse

And how would YOU feel if a couple of million militant, well-funded Beitarist Jews from Pinsk and Chelm had rocked up in Berkshire (or wherever you and your ancestors had lived for centuries) in 1948 claiming their ancestors had left a towel on it in 67AD and told you to get out, at gunpoint? And then shot you if you resisted? And taken your home and village and driven you off to a lifetime of bombed, besieged squalor in Gaza, the world’s largest open prison?
A lot of those ‘so-called’ (!) Palestinians – lawful, millennium-established residents of the Ottoman province and then British mandate of Palestine, with homes and lives and crops – are Christians – and they get treated just as contemptiibly by your odious ethno-supremacist Stern Gang state as any other Palestinians. Two of Israel’s premiers have actually been convicted terrorists. When in office, Shamir provided assistance to the Argentine junta against Britain and awarded his former Stern Gang butcher-comrades the Lehi medal.
Israel, militarily, is the nuclear-armed, USSA-funded bully boy of the Middle East. With the successful USSA-funded crushing of the Arab Spring, the brutal Sunni dictatorships are all firmly allied with Israel. But Bibi needs to maintain the illusion of an ‘Arab threat’…because is the only thing holding Israel’s fractured society together.
Still, this is a cheery piece in many ways: demography is destiny… With the population of pasty, noodle-armed froomer-Taleban doubling every 20 years, it looks like the native people of Palestine will have the last laugh, some time around mid-century.

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter Joy
Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago

There are many wolves in sheep’s clothing.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago

I wasn’t a huge fan of Bolsonaro, but at least he didn’t have a bee in his bonnet about Israel like Lula and so many other lefties do.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
1 year ago

Upon reading the title, I skipped the rest of the article. There was no need to read it. No new information. Just the title again, expanded and regurgitated with enormous bias. Not one of Unherd’s better entries, I’m afraid.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

Translated as “The article doesn’t adhere to my predetermined narrative therefore I won’t read it!”
People (correctly) complain about that sort of behaviour from the woke left, perhaps you have more in common with them than you’d care to admit?

Scott McCloud
Scott McCloud
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Rather on the same order as Biden’s describing Republicans as “the dark forces that thirst for power”

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Scott McCloud

I’m not sure how that’s related to the article or my comment to be honest

Andras Boros-Kazai
Andras Boros-Kazai
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

That is anything but “honest.”

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago

Why? How is Biden and the US related to this article?

Wyatt W
Wyatt W
1 year ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

I’m sure I’m politically aligned with you, but I could not disagree with your comment more. If you want an echo chamber, go to the Daily Wire or something, Unherd may not be for you.

Margalit Shinar
Margalit Shinar
1 year ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

One of the worst, I fear.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
1 year ago

Any specific point in it with which you take issue? Any information or context you’d like to add, any convincing correction or rebuttal you’d like to make? Anything that would evidence that you’ve even read it? Or have you just determined that the piece brings up negatives about your lovely Israel and so, rather than suffer the pain of confronting its discomfiting content, a blanket, general fatwa of condemnation is the only appropriate response?

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter Joy
Peter Joy
Peter Joy
1 year ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

I found it interesting and informative. The social trends I noticed when last in Israel seem to have accelerated.
Curiously, you play the classic leftist card of dismissing and denigrating the whole piece, and the author, saving yourself the considerable effort – particularly for a lowbrow partisan – of disputing any of the pertinent and well-evidenced points Fraser has made.
But 61 upvotes! My word, what electronic firepower Hasbara can deploy when a piece with ‘Israel’ in it flashes up on the monitoring screen.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Joy

What you call “hasbara” is actually people — sensible people — with a different point of view making those views known.

Josef Oskar
Josef Oskar
1 year ago

In the last thirty hours I have been talking over the phone with many friends I have in the country to make my own personal survey. Some are very negative, some are worried. But not all ! Several people depicted to me this situation : prices are rising up fast, young people can no longer afford to buy a house, certain areas of the country ( ie the south ) are out of control because of criminals and gangs which make a trip by car to the Red Sea an adventure, Five elections in 30 months are a real problem, people wanted stability. What happens in a country when people are unsatisfied ? They vote for the opposition. That does not mean that the current coalition did not do many good things, but when people right or wrong are unhappy they change.
One thing should be considered : there is no modern ( and small ) country in the world that is exposed to so much stress like the israelis. In such conditions people take drastic steps and normally the governing coalition pays the price. Vae victis.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
1 year ago
Reply to  Josef Oskar

Lebanon?

Josef Oskar
Josef Oskar
1 year ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

I wrote modern country, do you rate Lebanon, with all due respect, as modern ?

Last edited 1 year ago by Josef Oskar
Peter Joy
Peter Joy
1 year ago
Reply to  Josef Oskar

It used to be, before the civil war and Israeli invasion of the 1980s smashed it. It was a rich country, the banking and commercial capital of the Arab world, a place of charm and sophistication. All gone now.
Other once-rich and once-prosperous countries are now headed inexorably down the same path, for similar reasons.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Joy

Oh and let’s not forget the Syrians’ role in Lebanon’s decline instead of blaming it on Israel and a “civil war” that was mostly fomented by Syria.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

Despite its diverse population, Lebanon has become little more than a disguise for Hezbollah, which really runs the show (and has run it into the ground). So no comparison.

Margalit Shinar
Margalit Shinar
1 year ago
Reply to  harry storm

Right. And Lebanon will not let go of its virulent anti Israel stance . If it did, it could modernize and shake off the yolk of Hizballah.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
1 year ago

Oh dear. Did someone egg the Lebanese? But I guess English isn’t your first language.
It’s all so simple, isn’t it, Margalit? Lebanon = all Lebanese = ‘virulent’ anti-Israel Hezbollah = so they must comply with our commands, or we bomb anywhere in Lebanon (again). There’s a lot more to Lebanon than one ethnic faction, as you surely must know. With no French administration of balance competing interests, that’s the country’s whole problem.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Joy

Hezbollah is virulently anti-Israel and Hezbollah controls the Lebanese state. It doesn’t matter how diverse Lebanon is or what all the different religious factions think, their hezbollah-controlled government is obsessed with Israel hate. As for this nonsense about bombing, the last time Israel bombed Lebanon was 16 years ago (and precipitated by a Hezbollah cross border raid).

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
1 year ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

Interesting – and indicative of the mentality of the Hendon taleban that swarm on pieces mentioning Israel like wasps on jam – that the mere mention of Lebanon got you two downvotes.
‘How dare you compare the plight of the Jews with mere ‘Lebanese’!! Antisemitism of the worst kind!! Will it never end!!!!’
Actually, and not to lessen the social and political breakdown in Israel, it was a good and accurate answer. If there’s one country more messed up by internal ethnic division, political corruption and economic polarisation than Israel, Lebanon would be it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter Joy
neville austin
neville austin
1 year ago
Reply to  Josef Oskar

In terms of its government and a marginal majority of its peoples Israel is unquestionably now a fascist state. Not Hitler more like Franco.

Josef Oskar
Josef Oskar
1 year ago
Reply to  neville austin

Have you ever visited Israel ?
I will give one example, one of many. Have you heard about a programm called “Save a child’s heart ” ? It is designed to operate toddlers with heart deficiensies from wherever they come free of charge. Palestinians, arab countries, african countries all over the world. The israeli doctors save lives and many poor families come to save their children. They thank in tears the israeli surgeons who do this acts for the simple fact : they took the Hippocrate‘s oath.
You don’t know what you are talking about, just bashing for the sake of it.

Margalit Shinar
Margalit Shinar
1 year ago
Reply to  neville austin

Why fascist? Because it’s fashionable in certain circles to say so?

Leejon 0
Leejon 0
1 year ago

But did you not argue last month the the U.K. should adopt proportional representation? The same system that is used by Isreal to elect the Knesset? I am a supporter of Isreal. It is a democracy. Some people do not want what we want. That is democracy!

Margalit Shinar
Margalit Shinar
1 year ago
Reply to  Leejon 0

Three cheers

Peter Shaw
Peter Shaw
1 year ago

Leftie rubbish scare-mongering .

Gil Harris
Gil Harris
1 year ago

Thank God Bibi in control again. Finally an Israeli government will stop taking crap from Palestinians whom they treat better than most Arab countries who have given up on their intransigence and violence.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Gil Harris

Hear hear!

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
1 year ago
Reply to  Gil Harris

Exactly what ‘crap’ is the previous administration supposed to have taken from the native inhabitants? Were they ‘taking crap’ from them by letting them breathe ‘Israeli’ air and failing to shoot them, bulldoze their homes and seize their land in the illegally occupied territories for yet another illegal settlement for the latest million Torah-reading Taleban froomers?
So far as I can see, it’s the Palestinians that have been taking crap – and a lot worse – from Israel for 74 years.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Joy

Then perhaps they should offer to sincerely negotiate peace, which they refuse to do. I continue to be amazed at how this basic fact eludes commenters about Israel’s so-called oppression of Palestinians. And by the way, your comment reeks of boilerplate or middle east studies 101, take your pick.

Last edited 1 year ago by harry storm
chris Barton
chris Barton
1 year ago

The people so vocally against the “far right” behave like SA brown shirts and dress like the Italian black shirts.

John Solomon
John Solomon
1 year ago
Reply to  chris Barton

When you said ‘Italian black shirts’ I immediately thought of the (Roman) clergy !!

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
1 year ago
Reply to  chris Barton

You’re taking about Vladimir Jabotinsky and the State he was instrumental in founding, I assume? Or has you his spiritual grandchildren over at Beitar Jerusalem FC in mind?

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Joy

No he’s talking about antifa. Why schlep Jabotinsky into this. He has nothing to do with any of it.

Rafi Stern
Rafi Stern
1 year ago

I generally enjoy reading Giles’ insights, but this article was seriously lacking in both facts and insight. It might help to read and listen to a wider range of views than editorials in Haaretz, and to speak to some people outside the liberal Ashkenazi Tel-Aviv.
I am not a Smoterich or Ben-Gvir supporter. The composition of the next government and the tensions they will provoke, worry me, but please can we stay factual and reasonable.

  1. “I spoke to friends and family in Tel Aviv yesterday morning. They are in despair: the place they once knew and loved — the place their grandparents built — is disappearing before their eyes” – as you said further on “the inherent sense of cultural superiority of the Ashkenazi former Europeans”. Yep that’s it.
  2. “His followers re-formed the first-century assassin group, the Sicarii, and targeted Left-wing Israeli politicians.” – Facts please?
  3. “In the South, where the rich won’t live because it is too close to the rockets from Gaza, there is little work and conditions are often crowded and unsanitary.” What are you talking about? Maybe they won’t live there because it is too far from the cultural hub of the center of the Country. “Crowded and unsanitary” – what an absurd thing to say about over half the area of the the country, mostly desert and sparsely populated (because it is too far from the cultural hub of the center of the Country).
  4. “Around the old bus station in Tel Aviv…” Oh that is the “crowded and unsanitary” south of the country? Dilapidated inner city south Tel Aviv?
  5. “This is a country that has also been butchered by Bibi’s extreme version of free-market capitalism” – What? If you knew anything about Israel you would know that it is anything but free market capitalism. Israel’s hi-tech economy is surging ahead on the one hand while the socialist apparatus of trade unions, collective bargaining, bloated public sector, planned economy, protective import tariffs and more hold the country back from making real progress. Consumer prices are high, taxes are high and free-market capitalism is nowhere in sight. Finally in the last year under a liberal non-Bibi government, finally tariffs started getting slashed, restrictive unique standards and bureaucracy preventing imported consumer goods got dismantled and amid outcry from the farmers’ lobby the quota for butter and the ban on importing fruit got abolished. But not by Bibi. One of the things I am worried about is that a new Likud government will undo all this good work.

These elections seem to have finally gotten us a government that may even last near to its four year term (assuming Netanyahu or one of the coalition partners don’t bring it down on purpose for their own political needs).
The “good” news (as far as your Tel Aviv family and friends are concerned) is that Netanyahu while billing himself as “the strong right” (Ś™ŚžŚ™ŚŸ Ś—Ś–Ś§), “a fully right wing government” (Ś™ŚžŚ™ŚŸ ŚąŚœ ŚžŚœŚ), etc. historically has never delivered as far as his right wing electorate is concerned though they always still keep coming back for more – not on personal security, not on Iran, not on the economic-reform and not on judicial reform.
My guess is that for all the hand-wringing going on at the moment, we can expect a lot more of the same. And that in my opinion, while I am happy for a government – any government, is the real tragedy of the elections.

Last edited 1 year ago by Rafi Stern
Peter Joy
Peter Joy
1 year ago
Reply to  Rafi Stern

At last: someone who seems to have actually read the piece. And then, delivered a reasoned, sane, well-informed and interesting critique! Point 5 is particularly well made. People like Fraser and forever confusing crony capitalism with e genuine free market. Your final pars make a lot of sense and point up the limitations in Fraser’s analysis.

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter Joy
David Barnett
David Barnett
1 year ago

Like most westernised states, Israel’s democratic divide is between a domineering elite class reaping the benefits of excessive financialisation of the fiat-money economy, and those who struggle on the trickle-down of debased money.
Ironically, those haredim whose full-time study of Torah is funded by state (and other) handouts are neglecting a fundamental principle of Torah while being beneficiaries of the fiat-money ponzi scam whose inevitable collapse seems to have begun. The Torah principle is to Live by it in all its aspects, as summarised in Mishna Avot: “Without work there is no flour. Without flour, there is no Torah!”. Torah study and teaching was never supposed to be an economic career.
This election and the others we are witnessing in “the West” reflect a popular feeling that there is something rotten in the way our elites have governed. That popular feeling is both a source of hope and danger.
The danger is that a demagogue can exploit the feeling with the false promise of a fix if only the “right people” were driving the centralised government machine. The hope is that the machine itself (whose very structure attracts the “wrong people”) can be replaced with a less centralised and arrogant system.

Margalit Shinar
Margalit Shinar
1 year ago
Reply to  David Barnett

Agree!

John Solomon
John Solomon
1 year ago

“…..new Right-wing religious parties — although to describe them as Right-wing and religious is an insult to both terms.”
On the contrary – this is exactly what a ‘religious’ party is : just as people in Iran, or Saudi Arabia are religious.
Perhaps Giles thinks that ‘religious’ should refer only to people who subscribe to the ‘gentle Jesus meek and mild’ milksop mindset.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  John Solomon

Indeed, the wisdom of Solomon. Beginning the article with that piece of self-righteous nonsense severely dents Fraser’s credibility. But it’s par for the course with him, he doesn’t seem to be able to help himself despite the frequency in Comments of rejoinders, to which he’s clearly deaf (if read at all.) It’s a shame, because his writing does have some merits, as when he contributed an interesting piece on our system of voting recently.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Peter Joy
Peter Joy
1 year ago
Reply to  John Solomon

Yes. Look where milksoppery has gotten Christianity. Empty pews, a feminised clergy, pathetic irrelevance.

David Kingsworthy
David Kingsworthy
1 year ago

Bolsonaro lost, thank God.” Do you thank God that Lula won??
the place they once knew and loved — the place their grandparents built — is disappearing before their eyes.” So to be clear here, their grandparents built a secular city teeming with immigrant squalor?

Jacqueline Burns
Jacqueline Burns
1 year ago

It wasn’t what my late father fought for after he had finished his army service for the UK during WWII

Michael Drucker
Michael Drucker
1 year ago

Churchill got it right: No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.


Israel has a fully transparent highly democratic electoral system. This has of late led to weak government and inertia. The people voted for strong government, and now the left will cry that yes, they voted, but they got it wrong.
Three points of order that have not been commented on. The anecdote of the child in the park already says little, but considering that Chareidim often do not use the terms Holocaust or Shoah, but rather Churban Europa the story adds even less.
Shas is not really a right-wing party. It functions on pure Realpolitik to do whatever it takes to look after the interests of it’s mainly poor voter base. Finally, 99.9% of Chareidim in Israel speak fluent Ivrit as well as Yiddish. If the author and his wife have not communicated with Chareidim, maybe it’s because they have never tried.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

I understood that Netanyahu had actually stopped the work and national service exclusions that the Extreme Orthodox Jews had previously had.

Who are we in Britain to point any fingers at Israel? a now far more successful country than hours, the sole democracy in the middle east, who have the honesty and courage to deal with the muslim problems, unlike us.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
1 year ago

What sort of a solution to the ‘muslim problem’ have you in mind, Nicky? How is Israel dealing with the ‘muslim problem’?

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
1 year ago

Could this whole situation be averted if one of the “moderate” parties, of which there are a few, hold their noses and do a deal with Netanyahu? If there really is a threat of a far right takeover of government then keeping them out of the government should be the highest priority. But then that would mean compromising other principles that they hold in higher regard. So obviously there isn’t that great a desire from the Israeli left/centre to keep the so-called nutters out of power.

The second point is that the liberal jews are clearly not having enough kids so what did they think would happen? It is all very well decrying demographic takeover of the state (a weird concept) but then the liberal section of society clearly prefers a cushy lifestyle with their Prius to raising the next generation. Hard to have much sympathy when choices like this have consequences. It will be interesting to see what the orthodox majority will do with the country – ironically it may well make the state much more alligned (culturally) with their nieghbours.

Liked the article.

Avi Linden
Avi Linden
1 year ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

Demographics is one of the keys to understanding what is happening in Israel (and elsewhere too). Generally, people here (and elsewhere) vote according to what their families do.
If you have an average of 5 or 6 or 10 children and then they get married in their very early 20s and also have a similar number, then, even if 30% leave the fold, in democratic elections you are still going to beat the groups that only have 2 or 3 kids, or none at all.
That is one of the aspects of a democracy.
BTW, I am not happy with outcome of the elections, but our situation is still a lot better than most other places in the world.
Has anyone redacted Mr. Friedman’s article from the NYT and substituted USA for Israel? Perhaps he should get his own house in order before he throws stones at us.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

RE: the liberal section of society clearly prefers a cushy lifestyle with their Prius to raising the next generation. Hard to have much sympathy when choices like this have consequences. 
Oh how awful. Sounds just like the modern — not just liberal — section of society in all Western countries.

Buena Vista
Buena Vista
1 year ago

I have no dog in this fight, but from his contemporary works, I have concluded that Mr. Fraiser typically does not write an honest essay.

El Uro
El Uro
1 year ago

Let me express a seditious thought that I once formulated while working in a startup. For this thought, I received a hateful look from a young woman who (understandably) later went to Canada.
The fact is that, contrary to the opinion of the author of this article, the Jews survived as a nation, and as a result of this, modern Israel arose, precisely thanks to the orthodox Jews (haredim).
I perfectly understand how this statement is unpleasant for liberals, so I offer my deepest apologies in advance, but… here I stand, I can do no other,,,

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  El Uro

The Orthodox may have kept Judaism alive, but the secular created zionism and the modern state of Israel.

Margalit Shinar
Margalit Shinar
1 year ago
Reply to  harry storm

Right!

El Uro
El Uro
1 year ago

Wrong! Although i was expecting a similar answer…
Without Judaism, the Jews would have disappeared thousands of years ago. Everything else is just a consequence.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
1 year ago

If only Israel had free market capitalism. Like many countries, she would be in a far better place

Margalit Shinar
Margalit Shinar
1 year ago

In regards to the “vicious” far right. Ben Gvir says he has changed from his early adherence to Kahn’s extremism. Why not believe him? Have you seen his legislative record in the Knesset? Nothing extreme, nothing vicious there. As for his demand to oust Arab citizens who are our enemies, nay, terrorists, (and no others), he is perfectly right. It is interesting to note that Avigdor Lieberman on the other hand is not attacked for his calls to “transfer” the Arabs. Of course not. He sits in a coalition with the left… I deplore these double standards.

Srinivasa Sarma
Srinivasa Sarma
1 year ago

I don’t understand what is right or left or far right or far left. The media seems to have lost their sense of purpose for using the words. The word Conservative is used in USA. What does it mean? Are they talking about Christian values? Or are they talking about other values? On the other hand, the word democracy is used for every thing. The word freedom, which is the off-shoot of democracy is extended to everything from abortion to Zingoism. In order to rush and beat the dead line before going to the press, the writing seems to have hit the road at the end of the tunnel without any light.

Margalit Shinar
Margalit Shinar
1 year ago

This article is so full of falsehoods I don’t know where to begin.

Margalit Shinar
Margalit Shinar
1 year ago

Ok. Let’s begin with the fact that the left has made coalitions with the right and “far” right for decades whenever they found it expedient to do so to gain or maintain power. So Netanyahu is not an outlier. Next, the “blacks”, or “penguins” are a crazy cult but still a minority. Other than that, Israel is a FAR more complex society than the writer describes. “Elsewhere, the poverty is crippling”. There is indeed poverty in various pockets in the south of Israel, or in the ultra-orthodox community where people CHOOSE to have a lot of children and live on government handouts (like those who live 2 kms from Tel Aviv) and among Arab communities where women do not work. But CRIPPLING poverty? How ridiculous is that? Israel, not matter how inadequately is still a welfare state. The proof is in the statistics: in a country with crippling poverty life expectancy wouldn’t be so high (one of the highest in the world) for instance.
Next. “This is a country that has also been butchered by Bibi’s extreme version of free-market capitalism.” Israel was butchered? A country that has a GDP that has surpassed that of the UK? Ask anyone – right or left, and they will concede: that Bibi has brought prosperity to Israel, that had been butchered, yes, butchered, by decades of socialism. Oh, and there is by no means free market capitalism in Israel. A short glance at surveys that measure the freedom of markets will not place Israel in any of the top slots.
This writer represents, along with the Ha’aretz newspaper a distorted version of a country whose elites are still furious that the country was stolen from them by… the people.
ï»ż

Ian S
Ian S
1 year ago

A few commentators below have made the point that they despair about the knee-jerk reaction of so many people who lapse into the terminology “left” or “right” (the latter usually expressed as “far-right”, interestingly, whereas we seldom see references to “far left”). Personally, I try my best to avoid the two-part characterisation. With reference to USA politics, here is a useful substitute: the 7 Hidden Tribes analysis, based on comprehensive research, takes us away from the left-right binary to a more useful and nuanced breakdown of politico-ideological affinities.

Larry Jay
Larry Jay
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian S

Yes, the Hidden Tribes analysis is a useful development of the basic Left-Right divide, but you need to show it explicitly in more dimensions like this Electoral Calculus approach (which also has 7 tribes)

Last edited 1 year ago by Larry Jay
Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
1 year ago

What is, or better what was, “authority?” Some have said that authority is the thing that vanished from modern life. It will always be true that there is a better and a worse way to live a human life. Without authority of some kind, it is impossible to determine which is which. One cannot, then, call a new leader “authoritarian,” and then say QED. The wrong kind of authority may be totalitarian, but the absence of authority is always that. My question, then, is what authority Mr. Fraser might be prepared to accept.

John Solomon
John Solomon
1 year ago

The only true authority for him is what comes out of his mouth, or flows from his pen. He is doubly dangerous, because he claims to be both theologian and philosopher.
To adapt an old analogy, both philosophers and theologians are like a man in a coal cellar at midnight, looking for a black cat – except the theologian says he knows where the cat is. Giles goes one better – he thinks he’s holding the cat, and has his thumb firmly inserted in the cat’s ar*se.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
1 year ago

Fraser is described as a vicar – a religious man. and yet all of his writing appears to be aggressive left wing political propaganda.

Here he refers to the the multiple children of orthodox Jews as changing the nation’s demographic and yet I have never seen him write similarly about Muslims in the UK.

He should change the the description under which he publishes his rather partisan and toxic political views. It would be more honest. – And honesty is a part of the religion that he professes to belong to, is it not?

Last edited 1 year ago by Albireo Double
R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

Israel, unlike any other western country, is free of the shibboleths that are pushed in the west. This is why those on the extreme right use the mocking slogan “open borders for Israel” to highlight that Jewish people act progressive in Europe and authoritarian in Israel. Demographic change of problematic white Europeans is celebrated by pro-Israelis, but seen as genocide when done by Palestinian Arabs.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

Exactly! The very Jews who push so keenly for mass immigration to Europe and the ‘benefits of diversity’ presumably in part from a sense that diluting the native population reduces competition and makes them safer – become utterly ndignant when I suggest the same medicine for Israel. ‘That’s completely different!’, they insist. Well, why on Earth am I, or the long-suffering USSA taxpayer, subsiding the Israeli and Egyptian armies with $billions while subsisting in a trailer park, meant to care about the future of Israel when Israel’s staunchest supporters (admittedly in common with Europe’s corporate, political and bureacratic ruling class, Orban excepted) don’t seem to care a fig about the future of the nations of Europe?

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter Joy
Steve State
Steve State
1 year ago

From the fact that you equate Shas with the religious Zionist parties reveals how little you understand Israeli society.
You regurgitate antisemitic tropes and justify it because ‘that’s what people in Tel Aviv think’.
This article is really rather embarrassingly inaccurate, small minded and ignorant of understanding of the communities you purport to ‘reveal’ to us.

D Frost
D Frost
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve State

Exactly. The author “spoke to friends and family in Tel Aviv,” before writing his screed, but couldn’t be bothered to listen to anyone who wouldn’t simply recite his own (ill-informed) opinions to him.

D Frost
D Frost
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve State

Exactly. The author “spoke to friends and family in Tel Aviv,” before writing his screed, but couldn’t be bothered to listen to anyone who wouldn’t simply recite his own (ill-informed) opinions to him.

Steve State
Steve State
1 year ago

From the fact that you equate Shas with the religious Zionist parties reveals how little you understand Israeli society.
You regurgitate antisemitic tropes and justify it because ‘that’s what people in Tel Aviv think’.
This article is really rather embarrassingly inaccurate, small minded and ignorant of understanding of the communities you purport to ‘reveal’ to us.

Rob Keeley
Rob Keeley
1 year ago

I’ve learned far more about Israeli politics from the commentators than from this piece of cheap, shoddy sensationalism. I would have expected better from Giles.

Last edited 1 year ago by Rob Keeley
Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago

The comments’ section has become so predictable, it’s like reading the Guardian. As I have said before, maybe we need trigger warning, because “far-right” does trigger a number of commentators here. Mr Netanyahu is certainly on the right, and if not far-right certainly veering that way, and Meir Kahane, with whom he may join, is definitely far-right. Has UnHerd become no more than an anti-Woke, right-wing echo chamber? If so it is hardly worth bothering about anymore.

Last edited 1 year ago by Linda Hutchinson
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago

The articles are fine, covering a wide array of subjects I’d otherwise never hear of. Unfortunately the comments section is going the way of every other message board, whereby the moderate voices are slowly squeezed out by the ideologues. As you say it’s now simply a mirror image of the Guardian, with people threatening to cancel their subscription every time a writer has a left of centre opinion, with responses all railing about the same groups, using the same terminology, whether they’re mentioned in the article or not

El Uro
El Uro
1 year ago

The article begins with the words: “Boris failed to make his comeback. Trump seems to want to, but probably won’t. Bolsonaro lost, thank God. But where others have failed, Benjamin Netanyahu has done it again”.
Sorry, this is not an analysis, this is not an essay, this is a stream of the author’s emotions, supported by very weak and easy to refute arguments.
I don’t know about others, but I’m tired of emotions, I’m tired (pCsd, where C means COVID instead of T – trauma, if you will) of attempts to scare me.
And one more thing – I voted against Bibi, but I do not see signs of the end of the world in his election. I want to see cold blooded and honest reflections on why he was chosen. I didn’t find them here.
PS. As you can see, I didn’t click “dislike” on your comment. I give you the answer to your question about my predictability – the article is too predictable, a stream of complaints and tears, causing nothing but tired irritation.

Last edited 1 year ago by El Uro
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

You could try ‘winding them up ‘ as ‘we’ used to say.
Personally I find it very therapeutic!

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago

It’s getting a bit like that ain’t it. Turning into a centrist troll

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago

Meir Kahane is dead, and has been for a very long time. You may wish Netanyahu were joining him, but in the near future that’s quite unlikely. A smidgen of research before tapping on keyboard might go a long way.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
1 year ago

No, UnHerd isn’t a right-wing echo chamber, But Hasbara never sleeps, it seems. BtL comments below any piece about Israel are always a right-wing echo chamber, featuring a good few commenters who seem to regard the long-suffering native population of Palestine, Christians and Muslims alike, as little more than cockroaches or vermin.