Sunday, May 1, 2016

18 - Sharett Remarks, Meeting of the Mapai Knesset faction, July 20, 1954

Sharett was replying to those opposing the Dayyanim (Rabbinical Courts) Law, mainly women MKs.

Let me say, first of all, regarding MK Ada Fishman's remark that members of the Cabinet are not necessarily endowed with lofty wisdom, that I see it as an insult to wisdom. It is not that precisely haverim endowed with lofty wisdom are chosen to serve in the government; in reality, the human race in certain countries – perhaps not in every Indian tribe, but in certain countries – has arrived at the conclusion that governments are a necessity, and I, for one, belong to that kind of haverim who are ready any time and any hour to be replace in the government and give up my two functions. However, if we have a government, this fact calls for conclusions regarding the method of conducting matters, for otherwise it is necessary to dissolve the government, and then this group of Mapai MKs will assume the role of government, or perhaps this body too should b dissolved, and then the Party Convention would be the government. If, however, we accept the existing structure, which is based on a certain logic, then this logic obliges certain consequences. If we are to preserve this structure, then it is impossible to ignore these conclusions. To both preserve the structure and ignore the conclusions is just impossible.
A second remark. If we are a serious movement, we must once and for all accept two decisions: 1) Are we, in principle, for or against a coalition with the religious [parties], for obviously, a coalition with the religious means compromises and giving up some principles. Here a decision for or against a coalition with the religious [parties] is necessary. Either or. A “warm frost,” as Chaim Weizmann used to say, is impossible here. Establishing a coalition with the religious without making concessions at the cost of one’s conscience is impossible. A choice is thus necessary, but this choice must be made once. It is impossible to make this choice when you face a decision to establish a coalition or not, and later, when faced with consequences resulting from this necessity, to start weighing it and be deterred from it, hitting your head against the wall. There is then this basic decision.
2) There is, however, a second decision to make: do we want, during our time in office, a religious battle – a so-called “Culture War” – or we do not? Here, too, a choice is necessary. Let me utter an iconoclastic thought, maybe: I think that our party had no alternative but to accept the Marriage and Divorce Law, even if there was no coalition with the religious camp. Because removing the religious [parties] from the coalition does not erase religion and religiosity from the life of Judaism and of the State. And then the question is: do we want to partition the Jewish people into two, or not. This entails a very difficult decision, but once this decision is accepted, it is childish, it is ridiculous and most disgraceful and un-serious to deliberate over it again. One should become furious just once – and then draw one’s conclusions and accept the verdict of the decision arrived at.
  There is a third point: we cannot judge others and expect that others would not judge us. If we do that, we should be aware of the results. I am not forcing anything here. I’m only trying to explain the problem to the haverim, to help them see the situation with open, not closed eyes.
We have entered a most serious argument with the General Zionist over problems of the coalition. The Cabinet sits and deliberates, then a ministerial committee sits and deliberates, and a committee of the economic ministers sits and deliberates, and then direct talks are held between our party and theirs, and we go through seven stages of hell before a compromise is arrived at over a certain subject, a compromise not to our liking, nor to their liking, but still a compromise allowing the coalition to continue functioning, and at long last, when the matter is tabled before the government, the whole affair starts anew! This is impossible. It cannot go on.
Well, then, how will all this end? Continuing this situation means the break-up of the coalition. What sense is there in arguing in the government if later the whole matter is turned upside down? For if a situation is possible in which it is possible to bring the law back to the government for deciding anew, how can it be that in one matter one will accept the decision of his faction and in another matter he would force the government's decision on another faction?
This is impossible. We must go onward with open eyes. For what was suggested here was that we ourselves approve of a procedure by which, after a compromise on a matter of principle is arrived at by the government, any faction is later entitled to raise the whole matter anew. This is an inevitable consequence.
Let us assume that we are allowing ourselves such behavior because we are completely convinced of the rightness of our policy in the mater of the law regarding marriage and divorce in the State of Israel – and I will not say here one word against the opposition to this law voiced by the haverot here. I myself would sign on, with both my hands, to their arguments, morally and in terms of our party's platform. The trouble is that I am not free, because I must preserve a government, I must preserve a coalition government, I must preserve a coalition government with the aim of achieving a maximum of unity in Israel, not a maximum of division and splits. But let it be clear that if we allow ourselves to behave like this, not only the religious parties will repay us by the same coin, but others as well, and hence I ask you to think what would the future of the coalition be.
This State, because of its complicate composition, and  because of the burden of past generation, has  decided that certain aspects of its citizens' life would be extricated from the authority of the of the civic courts and be invested in Rabbinical courts, so that these matters would be dealt with not according to State's laws, but according to Torah laws. This is the root of this arrangement. It is indeed a malignant compromise. It is a historic decision which entail consequences. If we recoil from these consequences, we should recoil from the basic position.