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Degel & Agudah Part Ways

ad.jpgThe Knesset’s House Committee approved Thursday morning the split between the Chassidish Agudath Israel and the Lithuanian Degel HaTorah groups, which formerly made up the United Torah Judaism party.

The split comes ten days before the deadline for submission of party Knesset lists.  The primary source of conflict was apparently the sixth spot on the UTJ roster, a spot that traditionally goes to an Agudath Israel representative. However, Degel HaTorah has demanded the spot for one of their own, since polls suggest that the seventh slot on the list is not guaranteed to be realistic.

According to the UTJ constitution, the sixth and sevenths slots are to be rotated between the two groups. However, since the Israeli government in recent years has not been able to last a full term, Degel HaTorah officials are concerned that the rotation might not be put into effect.

Degel HaTorah leader MK Rabbi Avraham Ravitz confirmed the split Thursday, saying, “We’ve already started to set up headquarters under the assumption that we have no partners. We are responsible people. We would rather go together, but we will not be dictated to.”

“We are not talking to deaf people – people who only want to talk and don’t want to listen. We have guidelines and we have demands – we must change the order of the representatives in the party and the manner in which positions are selected. If they take our demands seriously, we can have it over with in an hour, but when this hour will come, I do not know,” Rabbi Ravitz added.

An Agudath Israel source confirmed the split as well, saying, “We keep reaching out to keep the unity and peace, but if they insist on splitting, they will have to live with the consequences.”

The Agudath Israel central committee is scheduled to convene on Thursday to elect the party’s representatives ahead of the Knesset elections. The vote is a matter of formality; the list is expected to include, in the following order, MK Yakov Litzman, MK Meir Porush, Rabbi Eliezer Moses and Yisrael Eichler.

(YWN Israel Bureau)

17 Responses

  1. “It is not the Benkel, it is the principle behind it” (a variation from “It is not the money, it is the principle behind it”).

  2. The end result will be less seats for Torah parties.
    All that is written is true, the knesset has not lasted a full term yet but have we not seen that Degel can be trusted when Mayor Uri, the Degel choice stepped aside for Agudist, Porush and for a predicted LOSE also.

  3. This is very risky since it could end up with one, or perhaps both, of them not crossing the threshold. Considering that there isn’t a great deal of ideological differences, they might be better off combining with Shas, and perhaps having the rankings reflect ability to govern.

  4. #5 – note that this is the result of a perception that the sole function of participating in the Israeli political system is to gather patronage, rather than to influence how Eretz Yisrael is governed.

    One probably can trace the perception back to the 1920s when the frum community realized it was hopeless to fight the zionists (the De Haan asasassination was a warning what happens if you get in the way), and they switched to a “survival” mode focused on avoiding excessive persecution and gathering benefits.

    Shas, with a different history, is more interested in challenging the zionists for control (so far the worst that has happened to them is being thrown in jail or trumped charges).

  5. In 1988 when Degel Hatorah was first started (under the auspices of Maran Rav Schach ZT”L), all the religious parties ran separately and yet as a sum total they had more Chareidi represetatives in the Kenesset, than when they ran together in the years that followed.

  6. Akuperma,

    I love how anxious you are to give history lessons on the troubled history of the yishuv.

    Yes we know that decisions made back then were tragic and morally reprehensible but…it’s still all we’ve got.

    The fact that there are even religious parties in the governement to begin with is something that Ben-Gurion and his cohorts never could have comprehended.

    Rather than bring up the assasination of Dr DeHann every time there is a story on E”Y you could find something constructive to do.

    If the religious parties could set aside petty differences or agendas that arent in the best interest of Klal Yisrael then maybe more could be accomplished in the way of making the state a holier place.

  7. #8 – They have been tinkering with the rules (largely to avoid 1 and 2 member factions). The threshold has gone up to 2.5%, meaning if you don’t get three, your votes are tossed. This means that if a six member faction splits in two, and both parties end up with one vote less than the threshold, the votes don’t count, which in effect means they are spread evenly among all the competing parties regardless of ideology.

    BTW, Israel is still very liberal in tolerating small factions. Most countries with proportional representation have a 5% or even a 10% minimum.

  8. #11 -“If the religious parties could set aside petty differences or agendas that arent in the best interest of Klal Yisrael then maybe more could be accomplished in the way of making the state a holier place.”

    I agree. The last time they tired was in the 1920s. They were successful in almost winning the first elections. The hilonim replied with bullets.
    I believe, that most of the Ashkenazi Hareidim Gedolim believe that if the Hareidim ever “won” the Israeli election (imagine Aryeh Deri explaining to the President that he has 61 votes lines up, so guess who has to be Prime Minister), they would be blocked, so therefore why seek a confrontation by trying to rule, and better to avoid a fight we can’t win by lilmiting our goals to imiproving our own community (via patronage).

  9. “The last time they tired was in the 1920s. They were successful in almost winning the first elections. The hilonim replied with bullets.”

    While this is both tragic and true I dont think this would be the case nowadays.

    But giving up on having a unified voice that represents the Dati community should not be considered an option.

    I think the best bet would be for all of the “shomer shabbat” parties and members to have a big sit down regardless of faction. They should decide on goals and use their numbers to finally remove the labor party hegemony that is determained to have it remain a secular country.

    I know it would never happen due to all of the factions being too self rightious to ever relinquish power but it’s a nice thought to have going into shabbous.

  10. #2 Get your info correct and then comment. Mayor Lapoliansky was forced out by Aguda because it was their chance to have a mayoral candidate!

  11. Charlie, wish it could work. In 1949 religious Jews looked at each other as brothers and sisters. The situation now is complete polarization between groups. It is very disheartening, sad and a cause of much hardship.

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