News from March 2 to March 8

Israeli election update, Yeshiva University basketball team, and honorable mentions

Hey everyone. As always, feel free to reach out to me with questions, comments, or concerns at newsofthejews@gmail.com

Also, don’t forget to vote in the World Zionist Congress elections! You can do so here. Voting ends on March 11!

Israeli election update:

Does Israel have a government yet? Nope.

What were the results of the election?

Right-Wing Bloc: 58

Likud: 36

Shas: 9

United Torah Judaism: 7

Yamina: 6

Center-Left: 55

Blue and White: 33

Joint List: 15

Labor-Meretz-Gesher: 7

Yisrael Beitenu: 7

So, Netanyahu won the election? Not quite. Netanyahu’s party won the most seats and his bloc is the largest, but without winning 61 seats, Israel is stuck in the same situation it has been in for months. These results are akin to the electoral college; even though Netanyahu/the right-wing bloc may have won the plurality/popular vote, he is not automatically the winner of the election. Remember, Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party has refused to sit in a coalition with Netanyahu and the Joint List. Without his support, both Netanyahu and Gantz will not be able to form a government. 

Okay, so if Netanyahu didn’t win, did Gantz win? It’s complicated. Even though Gantz won fewer seats, he still emerged in a better position than Netanyahu. For one, Netanyahu’s bloc coming up short of 61 seats virtually guarantees that Netanyahu will stand trial for his fraud, bribery, and breach of trust cases. If Netanyahu had won outright, he would have been able to delay or even dismiss his charges through a variety of legal measures (for example, ordering a new Attorney General to “re-examine” the cases). Now, should Israel have to go to a fourth election, he will have no such protections, and his trial will have started.

Moreover, while Gantz’s bloc is 55 seats, the anti-Netanyahu bloc (Center-left + Lieberman) is technically 62 seats. To be clear, that does not mean Gantz can form a government with those 62 seats; The Joint List and Yisrael Beiteinu did not have an epiphany and decide to start working together. However, they are united in their shared goal of removing Netanyahu from power. 

In sum, neither Netanyahu nor Gantz managed to secure a plurality for their bloc, but a majority of the Knesset believes in replacing Netanyahu.

What has happened since the election? The anti-Netanyahu bloc is using its plurality to advance legislation that would prevent Netanyahu from becoming the Prime Minister by imposing term limits for Israeli Prime Ministers. Gantz proposed having the term limits go into effect for the next election, but Lieberman wants to see the term limits law apply immediately. If Gantz’s form of term limits gets passed, he will likely maneuver for a fourth election since Netanyahu would not be able to lead Likud. Moreover, the anti-Netanyahu camp is also pushing for a bill that would prevent an indicted MK from establishing a government. Both bills would block Netanyahu’s path to a fifth term as Prime Minister.

Netanyahu sees the laws as “[undermining] the foundations of democracy” and “[canceling] out what the people determined.” Gantz said that “[Netanyahu] lost the election. The majority of the people do not want his continued rule, and that is what the people will receive.” Ultimately, it comes down to two different conceptions of what would be “democratic.” It’s true that Netanyahu’s party and bloc received the most votes. It’s also true that the majority of people voted against Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc.

Further reading: https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/03/israel-election-benjamin-netanyahu-and-israel-at-impasse/ (National Review)

Yeshiva University advances to Sweet 16 in NCAA Division III Tournament:

What happened? Following a historic 27-1 season in which they recorded their “best start in school history, the longest winning streak and their first national ranking,” the Yeshiva University Maccabees have advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Division III tournament. Having won the Skyline Conference, the Maccabees beat Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the first round and the Penn State Harrisburg in the second round of the competition. Their next game is against No. 3 Randolph-Macon College on March 3 at 2:00 p.m. in Ashland, Virginia. Every win from here will be a new record for the Maccabees.

Their path has been difficult. After a student at Yeshiva University tested positive for Coronavirus, their hotel in Baltimore canceled their reservation, forcing the team to find last-minute accommodations. Also, The Worcester Polytechnic Institute game was the first athletic event in America that banned spectators due to Coronavirus fears. On top of that, the team also cannot play, practice, or watch game film on Shabbat.

Further reading: https://www.wsj.com/articles/yeshiva-university-basketball-team-racks-up-faithful-fans-with-win-streak-11583440334 (WSJ)

Honorable Mentions:

The South China Morning Post published a profile on an 18-year-old from Hong Kong who passionately advocates for the Kaifeng Jews

A student at the Marine Academy of Arts and Sciences (MAST) in New Jersey sued her school, claiming the school failed to protect her from antisemitism. 

JTA is reporting the latest updates with Coronavirus in Jewish communities and Israel

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