Miri Regev: Everything wrong with Israeli politics - editorial

It is important to call out these lies whenever we see them. Political cynicism must have boundaries.

TRANSPORTATION MINISTER Miri Regev resorted to making threats that took advantage of the power she wields from her position in the government. This is a criminal offense, and it needs to be stopped.  (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
TRANSPORTATION MINISTER Miri Regev resorted to making threats that took advantage of the power she wields from her position in the government. This is a criminal offense, and it needs to be stopped.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Likud MK Miri Regev is an example of all that is wrong with Israeli politics, and on Monday she did not fail to provide us with the latest example.

In a video uploaded to Twitter, Regev blasted the government led by Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, accusing it of trying to turn the Western Wall into the “Reform Kotel” and Israel into a country that will no longer be Jewish. 

“I will never let that happen,” she says in the video, accompanied by a fast-thumping beat to keep people on the edge of their seats.

Regev is referring to the “Kotel Compromise,” the famous deal brokered by former Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky. It was meant to put an end to the decades-long discrimination of progressive Jews who do not have a respectable prayer space at the holy site.

 A haredi boy protests at the Egalitarian prayer section of the Western Wall by blowing a whistle and disrupting prayer. (credit: MASORTI MOVEMENT) A haredi boy protests at the Egalitarian prayer section of the Western Wall by blowing a whistle and disrupting prayer. (credit: MASORTI MOVEMENT)

The 'Kotel Compromise'

In January 2016, the deal was brought by then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to his cabinet for a vote. All the ministers voted in favor except for five. Regev, who was then sport and culture minister, voted for the deal. She even said at the time that it was important for all Jews to feel that they had a place to pray at the Western Wall.

Did something happen to make Regev change her mind? Did she suddenly become religiously observant? Of course not. What happened is simple: There was a political opportunity to attack the government, and if that included defaming people and lying, then that is fine.

This is unfortunate for a number of reasons. The first is that the situation at the Wall will not change. Regev represents a growing number of Likud members who, if given the opportunity to return to power, will completely outsource all matters of religion and state to the ultra-Orthodox parties. 

These Likud members might not observe Shabbat and they might keep kosher, but when it comes to politics, they will be fierce protectors of anything religious.

It is almost too cynical to believe. The problem is that it is real.

Regev’s video comes just a week after a Jewish family from the United States was attacked at the Ezrat Yisrael pluralistic plaza where they were holding a bar mitzvah for their son. A group of haredi youths entered the plaza and violently attacked the participants there. One of the protesters even blew his nose on a page torn from a Conservative prayer book seconds before the clash.

Putting out a video claiming that Jews who support the Kotel Compromise are like the Greeks and Hellenists of the Hanukkah story and are pushing Israel toward a disaster does not help. It does the exact opposite. It is actually a form of incitement that will only lead to more violence against progressive Jews who attempt to pray at the Western Wall.

Facts vs Politics

What Regev did is also unfortunate because it is just another example of how politicians do not care about facts. One day they can be in favor of something, and then the next, they can pretend as if they never were. 

One day they can claim that they won’t align with a certain politician, and the next, they will sit with him or her in a coalition.

Regev is not alone in this. Many of Israel’s politicians crisscross and zigzag with impunity. The Israeli electorate has given up even trying to keep track. This undermines the people’s trust in our democratic institutions. If people can say something one day and do the exact opposite the next, why should anyone believe them?

This is also sad because it turns our political system into a joke. As a result, public service not only fails to attract young and talented people, it pushes them away from government. It alienates them from being interested in what is happening in their country and from feeling they have a future that our elected officials care about.

This is why it is important to call out these lies whenever we see them. Political cynicism must have boundaries.