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When It Gets Real
So, it looks like Netanyahu is returning to power. Rumor has it that this time she will let Bibi make some of the minor decisions. Ba-da-bum!
No, but, seriously folks. While some are distressed by the election results to the point that I've seen people announce that they will not step foot in Israel while Ben Gvir is in the government, I don't think that things are quite the way that many people are taking them.
First of all, this was not, as some have declared, a choice by the Israeli people to reject Leftist policies. The election had very little to do with policies. It didn't even actually have much to do with Left and Right. There are plenty of people in Ganz's party who are more to the "right" than plenty of people in Likud - including being to the right of Bibi. And there are plenty of people in Shas and UTJ who don't care about "right" or "left" issues at all. Bibi's genius was fictitiously spinning the election as a battle against an existential Leftist threat to security and Judaism.
Second, the role of Ben Gvir and his associates is unlikely to play out in the way that he and his supporters hope. I've heard his supporters talk dreamily about annexing land and driving out the Arabs, but when you ask them how that actually would play out in practice, they go silent. Once you actually gain political power, you discover that you can't just do whatever you want, at least not without dealing with severe repercussions.
It's one thing to talk about such things as "shooting stone-throwers in the head" and another thing to actually change the rules of engagement in such a way. The resulting cost to human life on both sides, and the national and international consequences, would be horrendous. There's a reason why Ben Gvir was banned from serving in the IDF. There are enough sensible people in charge - including Bibi - who will ensure that the extremist agenda is very unlikely to actually happen. His supporters are in for a big disappointment, and Ben Gvir himself might learn a thing or two about responsibility.
Unfortunately, what is true for extreme right-wing Zionist political power is not true for charedi political power. While the security and political downsides of extremist right-wing policies are immediate enough to place brakes on those who would act in such a way, the same cannot be said for the economic consequences of raising a third of the next generation without secular education. While the consequences of such a thing are catastrophic, they only play out a few decades from now - at which point it's too late to do anything about it anyway.
Bibi has limited options to keep himself in power. He will presumably follow through on his election promise to United Torah Judaism that he will remove any financial incentive for teaching secular studies and undo the current government's successes in that area. This is depressing. But, as I told my colleagues, this makes our work at the Biblical Museum of Natural History - at which many of our visitors are charedi - all the more important. We have to show that learning about the wider world is something that enriches our lives as religious Jews.
School visits to the museum are heavily subsidized by our donors, because the schools just don't have the budget to pay full admission. If you'd like to help make it possible for us to continue to inspire and educate tens of thousands of people annually, please support our mission at this link or write to Tobey at advancement@BiblicalNaturalHistory.org.