Voice of the Jewish News: Two Jews, three political parties & a kvell of a start
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Voice of the Jewish News: Two Jews, three political parties & a kvell of a start

This week's double editorial reflects on the forthcoming Israeli elections and the New Years Honours

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett (R) and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, from the Jewish Home party
Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett (R) and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, from the Jewish Home party

Imagine a week when Chuka Umunna formally splintered off from Labour, taking 20 MPs with him, and Jacob Rees-Mogg did the same to the Tories, calling his band of Brexiteer brothers ‘The New Right’. Now imagine this was the seventh of 19 levels of splintering expected before the final vote in April. Welcome to Israeli politics.

Here’s the latest update: while the world was tucking into its turkey, the Zionist Union was disuniting when Labour leader Avi Gabbay said he could no longer work with Tzipi Livni and her Hatnuah Party because she looked at him funny. Just a day earlier, the two leading lights of the pro-settler Jewish Home Party said they were splitting to form their own
new right-wing group because the rest of the party smelled. Yair Lapid is now
widely rumoured to be considering a split after someone took the chair
he liked.

Whereas the UK has about 66 million people and only two take-
seriously parties (and that’s being generous to Mr Corbyn), Israel’s nine million people have at least nine million parties to choose from, and more with every passing hour.

Of course it does. Have you never heard the phrase: ‘two Jews, three political parties’?

A kvell of a start

There was the usual round of communal kvelling when the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list was announced, with many Jews recognised for contributions inside and beyond the community. Along with seven Holocaust survivors, several menches were honoured for tireless work in the charity and voluntary sectors, along with a one or two Jewish household names.

Actress Sophie Okonedo, who’s starred in everything from Doctor Who and Hotel Rwanda to Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, got a richly deserved CBE for her decades-long service to drama. And magician and mentalist David Berglas was handed a long-overdue MBE for services to magic and psychology. As the 92-year-old amusingly told us this week: “I’ve spent over 60 years on radio and television reading people’s minds, but
I didn’t see this coming!” A hearty mazeltov to all those picking up gongs at
Buck House in the coming months.

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