A slowly growing division

Fredi Winkler

A slowly growing division can be observed among the population of Israel. On the one hand, there is polarization of the Left and Right; on the other, between the secular and religious. This is the reason why elections no longer yield a clear result. There already is talk of possibly a fifth new election. The Jewish people have always had to struggle with partisanship. We see this in the New Testament with the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and then there were the Essenes and Herodians as well. The latter were, of course, predominantly political.

On Palm Sunday, when Jesus rode on a donkey from the Mount of Olives to the city of Jerusalem, the crowds were accompanying Him with chants of, “Hosanna.” Only a few days later, there were shouts of, “Crucify Him!” It is generally thought that these were the same people. Could that be the case? Only if one ignores the fact that, at least according to Luke 19:37, the rejoicing people were the multitude of His followers. Moreover, we know today that the pilgrims from Galilee set up camp on the Mount of Olives. Therefore, they were the ones who hailed the Lord as He came accompanied by His disciples, not the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

They were also the ones who were looking for Him among the pilgrims to the Passover Feast (John 11:55-56). They had not seen Christ for quite a while; the last half of the year before His death on the cross, He had stayed secluded since the religious leaders were out to capture Him. But when they now saw Him approach, they joined with His disciples in great rejoicing. Another point to note is that Jesus—according to what the Gospels tell us—never went to Jerusalem except for the great feast days, when the religious leaders did not dare arrest Him, given the large crowds of people who loved Him (Luke 19:47-48). This also is the reason for the decision to arrest Jesus at night, while the people slept. By the time the Galilean pilgrims came from the Mount of Olives into the city in the morning, everything was already over.

Thus, those who shouted, “Crucify Him!” were not the ones who had cried, “Hosanna” the day before, but a mob incited by the chief priests within the city of Jerusalem.

In today’s Israel, religious Jews initially were reluctant to participate in politics. But after the Yom Kippur War, they became increasingly politically active. At present, they are a dominant part of Israel’s political landscape. All of Netanyahu’s administrations only came about through support of the religious parties. At this stage, they have come to be a decisive as well as a divisive factor. On the one hand, they want to have a definite say about what takes place in the country. But on the other hand, they are not willing to share the burdens in equal measure. This aspect is leading to ever-greater resentment among secular factions, which sometimes even turns to hatred.

Whenever Jews discuss the question of why the second temple was destroyed, it is always said: “It happened because we hated one another for no good reason.” Therefore, on the basis of the experience of that time, all alarm bells should be ringing for the Jewish nation at present. Without assigning blame to anyone, the political difficulty seems not yet great enough to bring about an emergency government of national unity.

Despite all the political turmoil in Israel, we are left with the certainty that God has a plan to achieve His goal.

News from Israel - 04/2021

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