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Silman Switches Sides: "The Time Has Come To Form A National, Jewish And Zionist Government"

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Idit Silman is seen speaking in the Knesset. She withdrew from the Naftali Bennett government, saying to him, “I will not abet the harming of the Jewish identity of the State of Israel and the people of Israel.” (Screencap: @KnessetT)

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A clash between Yamina MK Idit Silman and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz left the Israeli government coalition teetering because “a minister in Israel came and said to follow a ruling by the High Court of Justice,” she told Haaretz on Wednesday. Silman has a background in teaching and healthcare work prior to being thrust into the role as chair of the precarious Naftali Bennett coalition, which has lasted ten months.

Silman wrote a letter to Prime Minister Bennett – who is head of the Yamina Party – resigning her role as coalition caucus whip over the dispute, without informing fellow members she was considering such a drastic action. She cited a controversy about allowing chametz into hospitals during Passover – when unleavened bread is forbidden – as an example of other ministers disrespecting voters.

Various media simplified for readers what this all means, using terms such as “quit on ideological grounds”, “resign over hospital food”, and “objected to the government allowing bread to be brought into public hospitals.”

Haaretz reported that she cancelled a meeting with Bennett last Tuesday and “that Silman was promised the role of health minister in any Likud-led government.” Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Idit, you are proving that what guides you is a concern for the Jewish identity of the State of Israel and the Land of Israel, and I welcome you back home to the national camp.”

“My key values are inconsistent with [the coalition’s] current reality. I hear the voices in the field and the sincere protest raised by the voters who supported us and with whose support we were elected, and also to the pain of those who did not vote for us but belong to the national camp,” she wrote in her resignation letter to Bennett. “I can no longer bear the damage to values ​​and causes that are essential and right.”

Silman specifically accused the government of undermining Israel’s Jewish character. She insisted, “I will not abet the harming of the Jewish identity of the State of Israel and the people of Israel.” She called on coalition members to “admit” that it was time to think of a “new path.”

She later elaborated: “the time has come to form a national, Jewish and Zionist government.” 

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The High Court ruled that hospitals cannot ban patients and visitors from bringing in food that is not Kosher for Passover during the holiday week. Following the ruling, Horowitz published a letter calling on hospital heads to follow suit, drawing Silman into the fray.

“What bothered me was that a health minister who is supposed to deal with health, is now taking issues of religion and state and doing a real spin and a poke in the eye with them!” she said. “Do not touch things that should not be touched,” she told Haaretz.

“If I do not set this as a flag, it will continue to deteriorate.” Silman characterised the hospital practices until now as “traditional in nature, not religious,” in restricting chametz brought in by visitors.

“How have they managed in hospitals until now? I have been in the world of health for more than 20 years… There is no religious coercion in hospitals. There never was,” Silman said. “Not in hospitals and not in the military. Security guards never rummaged through bags.”

 “Thank God, the hospitals know how to handle things very well – even on Passover.”

The aftermath of Idit Silman’s resignation led to speculation about backroom dealings, kingmakers, and potentially yet another election. (Screencap: I24News YouTube)

In a public statement Wednesday morning she lamented, “Unfortunately, I cannot anymore. I have tried unity. As someone who comes from the world of common good, I worked very hard for the current coalition. Regrettably, I cannot lend a hand to the blow to the State of Israel and Jewish people’s Jewish identity.”

 “I know I am not the only one who feels this way. The State of Israel’s Jewish identity is our right to exist here. It is our heart. It is our essence. Damage [to it], without any consideration for the public and the values I represent, is a red line to me. Another government can be established in this Knesset.”

On Wednesday evening, Bennett claimed Silman had been threatened by supporters Netanyahu and Religious Zionist head Betzalel Smotrich:

“Idit was persecuted for months, verbally abused by supporters of Bibi and Smotrich at the most horrific level… She described to me the threats against her husband Shmulik’s workplace and her children in Bnei Akiva. She broke in the end… the main thing we need to deal with at the moment is stabilising the faction and the coalition.”

Time of Israel reported: “Silman definitely felt general discomfort in this coalition, but the specific issue of chametz is just an excuse,” said Yair Sheleg, an expert in national-religious politics with the Shalom Hartman Institute.

“I think she already decided that she’s leaving and then searched for an excuse. The whole blow-up a few days ago was a game born to serve as an excuse to resign today.”

Marty Gold is the Editor-in -Chief of TheJ.ca. Known for investigative reporting, he has specialized in covering municipal and provincial politics, and a wide range of sports and entertainment, in newspapers, magazines, online, and on his first love, radio. His business and consulting experience includes live events and sales, workplace safety, documentary productions, PR, and telecommunications in Vancouver, Los Angeles and across Canada, and as a contestant on CBC-TV Dragons Den.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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Happy reading!

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