News & Politics

Is Israel Headed for a Civil War?

Israeli youths wave national flags as they enter Jerusalem's Old City through Damascus Gate during a march celebrating Jerusalem Day, Sunday, May 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

A stable Israel goes a long way in balancing out one of the most volatile regions of the world. If Israel were to teeter and fall into chaos, the possible ramifications are frightening to think about. Popular Christian writer Dr. Michael Brown believes that chaos is likely coming in the form of an Israeli civil war.

Known for his website AskDrBrown, the prolific speaker and author also contributes to The Stream. In a recent article for the ultra-conservative website, Brown asserts that a coming ideological civil war is going to tear Israel apart and further destabilize the region. After explaining that he’s not predicting a civil war fought with guns and weapons of mass destruction, he writes that it is a war between ultra-Orthodox Jews and liberal Israelis. “The rift is large and growing, and it was underscored by the conflict this week between LGBT activists and ultra-Orthodox rabbis,” says Brown.

In the article, Brown point outs how the presence of two extreme ideologies like the haredim (ultra-orthodox Jews) and a liberal left sold out to identity politics and LGBT issues clash within Israel’s political system:

Israel is a very fragile democracy, by which I mean that it takes a coalition of various parties to lead the nation. It’s not as simple as electing President Trump or President Obama. Instead, Israelis vote for parties, which are led by individuals. Various parties then work together to get a total of 61 seats in the Knesset (Parliament).

The article then details how during the last election held in 2015, Likud, Netanyahu’s party, had to cobble together enough seats in order to secure the majority. In the election, Likud won 30 seats, but needed 61. To reach that number, they made deals with other groups and parties.

To put his coalition together, Netanyahu had to include two ultra-Orthodox parties, United Torah Judaism and Shas, both of which won just 6 seats. But they are major power brokers in the government with disproportionate influence, since Likud could not govern without them.

Despite their small size, they can demand special benefits. These include government support so more of their men can devote themselves to day and night Torah study, along with exemption from serving in the military.

The United Torah Judaism and Shas parties create some interesting dynamics within the majority coalition.

Many haredim are anti-Zionist. Their leaders opposed the modern state of Israel before 1948, feeling that: 1) it was up to the Messiah to regather the exiles and reestablish the nation; 2) a secular Jewish state would be an abomination in God’s sight; and 3) an Israel established by man rather than God would increase world anti-Semitism. To this day, most haredim do not celebrate Israel’s Independence Day; some actually mourn.

It’s easy to recognize that the ideology of ultra-orthodox Jews not only clashes with that of the liberal left but actually poses serious issues that threaten to serve as insurmountable obstacles to the agenda of secularists. This conflict is already growing and causing alarm among the liberal left in Israel.

Most recently,

Netanyahu and his Likud Party … helped defeat a motion to include homosexuals in a new amendment to Israel’s surrogacy laws. The amendment enables single would-be mothers to now make use of surrogacy on the state’s dime. Homosexuals hoped to be included in the new regulations, and took to the streets of Tel Aviv in mass protest when the Knesset rejected their appeals.

Dr. Brown concludes his article by pointing out that the growing tensions between the two sides will only intensify as the haredim becomes more conservative and the secular left becomes more liberal.