Rabbi on Israel's security: Loss of Netanyahu leaves void

Rabbi on Israel's security: Loss of Netanyahu leaves void

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving prime minister, stepped down in June after a coalition of parties pushed him aside. 

Rabbi on Israel's security: Loss of Netanyahu leaves void

Israel’s national government is undergoing major power shifts after longtime leader Benjamin Netanyahu stepped aside and now his absence has created uncertainty, says an Israeli rabbi.

"To be perfectly honest, I'm somewhat worried about this government,” warns Rabbi Pesach Wolicki, who says Netanyahu filled an important role for the Jewish state on the world stage.

Netanyahu oversaw a fractured parliamentary government for years as prime minister, and the longtime politician attempted more recently to cobble together a coalition of squabbling parties that resulted in four elections over two years. In the end, though, the attempt failed as Netanyahu was dogged with corruption charges and a broad coalition formed to oppose him, and now Naftali Bennett (pictured below) was elected in June to serve as prime minister.

According to Wolicki, a U.S.-born Jew who resides in the Israeli city of Bet Shemesh, he is not worried about Bennett’s political leanings. The new leader mirrors the conservative views of Netanyahu, he tells One News Now.

“In fact, in some ways,” the rabbi says of Bennett, “he's even more right wing than Netanyahu." 

What concerns Wolicki, he explains, is a political power-sharing deal that means Yair Lapid, the current foreign minister, will become prime minister in approximately two years.

“Yair Lapid is, for lack of a better word, an amateur on the world stage,” the rabbi observes, “and Netanyahu was the greatest statesman Israel's ever had.”

Lapid was assured a rotation as prime minister after an all-day Knesset session approved an amendment mandating it, The Times of London reported in June.

Lapid leads the Yesh Atid party, the largest in the coalition, and Bennett leads the much smaller Yamina party, the Times reported.  

“I'm worried about Yair Lapid because I just don't trust him,” Wolicki concludes. "But the strength of this coalition is in the fact that so many of the parties do come from the right-wing nationalist camp and aren't going to tolerate anything too left-wing coming out of the government."

And in the U.S.?

Wolicki, Rabbi Pesach Wolicki

Rabbi Wolicki also voices concern about the new administration in Washington, DC, and the impact it's already having on U.S.-Israeli relations.

"The Biden administration is very, very worrisome. That's … the number-one concern that I have," he shares. "When you look at what just happened with the attacks coming from the Gaza Strip, during the Trump administration we didn't have one of those mini wars; [and] we had one in the Obama administration.

"Everything was kind of quiet [then] because when you project strength and when our enemies know that America is really behind us, they behave themselves."

But things are now different under Biden, he says – and Wolicki cites an example that concerns him.

"When [White House press secretary] Jen Psaki was asked during that conflict if the United States government was committed to replenishing the Iron Dome missile defense system for Israel, she hedged and was non-committal about it," he recalls.

"I think the Biden administration [is] basically continuing the stance of [the] Obama [administration] that the U.S. is no longer going to position itself as Israel's friend and ally, but [instead] as some kind of neutral arbiter between the two sides – as though there's some kind of equivalency between Hamas terrorists and the Israeli army."

Editor's Note: Rabbi Pesach Wolicki regularly speaks to Christian audiences to strenghten ties with Jews and Israel. He was interviewed by American Family News after speaking at the American Family Association, the parent organization of AFN.net.

8/5/2021 - Section re: Wolicki's concern about the Biden administration added to original story.