For many years, a key element in the Israeli psyche has been missing. Gone is the passion, not for our land, not for our state, but for our leadership. For both those in power and those in the opposition, enthusiasm has waned considerably.
Many are in despair at having no one to feel passionate about in the upcoming elections. Some don’t even want to waste their time voting … again, only to reach the same results as the previous election. Far too many on the right are voting for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a hapless shrug for lack of anyone better, while others have lost faith in the parties to the right of Likud.
People want unity. They want to be able to back their leaders with enthusiasm for what they represent. Israelis want security, strong deterrence policies, and a prime minister that can withstand international pressure along with the support of a strong coalition. Indeed, Israelis are frustrated not only with the Supreme Court’s exertions to hamper Israel’s deterrence, but also with the absence of aggressiveness and determination on the part of our leaders to squash Hamas and Fatah. More and more Israelis recognize that the status quo the Likud government has fostered over the years is no longer acceptable.
As is typical for Israeli elections, there is no lack of politicians and parties. However, there is surely a paucity of strong leadership qualities among the candidates at the forefront. Although something in the air is changing, and many in the religious Zionist camp are rallying around a potential game-changer.
Ayelet Shaked brings back the passion. She holds the promise of bold leadership.
In her previous position as justice minister, she recognized that the rulings of the High Court of Justice as well as the fear of legal repercussions kept Israel’s hands tied in matters of defense, and began efforts to decrease the stranglehold of the Supreme Court. She brought in conservative judges, sought to give the Knesset the right to effectively overrule in cases where the Supreme Court declared a bill unconstitutional, and pushed the Knesset to pass a law shifting jurisdiction in Palestinian land claim cases out of the Supreme Court.
This shifted jurisdiction in such cases from a court which tended to adjudicate with a bias against Israelis living in Judea and Samaria to the Jerusalem District Court, finally putting the burden of proof on the Arabs and thus decreasing the numerous false claims that had been flooding the Israeli legal system for years.
But her mission is far from complete and she is eager to finish what she started.
Along with her experience, she brings a spark to the table—a spark Israelis haven’t seen from our political leaders in many years. She conveys promise, idealism, and an uncompromising and unapologetic passion for our country. This, along with her determination to create better and stronger policies of deterrence, inspires a boost to our collective morale. Many see in her a courageous spirit reminiscent of past leaders such as Menachem Begin.
Shaked’s seeming lack of religious practice is of no concern to a grassroots movement of right-wing religious Zionist women. These women are backing her leadership over a united right-wing bloc, promoting the slogan, “Let Ayelet Win.”
Shaked is seen as having her heart in the right place, and she has made no secret of her respect for the Torah and for our ancient ties to the land of Israel. She has been exceedingly vocal against dismantling Jewish neighborhoods in Judea and Samaria and likewise has attended and spoken at past demonstrations against the destruction of Jewish homes.
Bottom line: She is not running for chief rabbi, and this right-wing, religious Zionist writer would be happy to leave the judgment of Shaked’s religious observance up to God. Given the grassroots movement, I am obviously not alone in my opinion.
Yes, “Let Ayelet Win.” In doing so, with a united right-wing bloc under her leadership, Israel wins. Recognizing that, Naftali Bennett and later Rabbi Rafi Peretz voluntarily took a backseat to Shaked, putting her in the number one spot of the Union of Right Wing Parties.
Netanyahu, too, would be wise to recognize that and let Israel win. The only path to that end is to “Let Ayelet Win!”
Zahava Englard Shapiro is a Jerusalem based author and writes books, articles, and news analysis focusing on Israel and other matters of Jewish interest.