There is a revolution underway in Israel — an upheavalnthat has nothing to do with rioting Palestinians, anburgeoning Arab birthrate, or Islamic fundamentalism.nLike the movement that gave birth to the United States,nthis is a revolution in the name of tradition. Perhapsncounterrevolution would be a more precise term. Its leadersnare orthodox rabbis whose bearded, Talmud-quoting followersnhave brought to Israeli politics a fervor associated withnHasidic prayer.nThe revolution’s opening guns reverberated in the resultsnof last fall’s national elections. Four religious partiesnachieved significant gains in the November balloting. Butnafter weeks of intensive negohations, a new Likud-Laborncoalition formed, and the Haredi (literally, “fearful ones” —nthose who fear God—as Orthodox Jews in Israel are called)nwere relegated to junior partner status.nStill, their electoral advances are an indication of growingninfluence. In 1984, religious parties polled 206,501 votes,nless than 10 percent of the total. In 1988, their vote swellednto 334,442, or 15 percent. Their combined representationnin the Knesset increased from 12 to 18 seats.nThey emerged from the 1988 election with the swingnvote in the Knesset, enough to give either of the evenlydividednbig parties a parliamentary majority. They bargainednfor power—too much, some would say — and lost. Innnegotiations with Likud, the Haredi demanded control ofnthe influential ministries of Education, Labor, and Housing,nas well as support for their agenda.nFinally, frustrated by these exorbitant demands andnanxious to demonstrate national unity in the face of thenPLO’s latest challenge, Shamir turned to Labor for anothernDon Feder is a columnist for The Boston Herald.n22/CHRONICLESnIsraelnby Don Federnnnright-left coalition, similar to the one that governed thennation from 1984 to 1988. The now-dispensable religiousnparties were awarded minor cabinet positions as consolationnprizes.nDespite this setback, the rise of religious parties will havena profound impact on the country. Typically, the US medianreacted with the disdain characteristic of its treatment ofntraditional religion, at home and abroad. Haredi leaders werenbranded wild-eyed fanatics, budding theocrats, koshernKhomeinies. Reflecting establishment incredulity at thenelection’s outcome, US News voiced shocked dismay thatnthe next Israeli government might actually be selected by “anhandful of tiny religious parties more concerned withnBiblical injunctions than with the Mideast peace process.”nWe all know what weird sorts concern themselves with thenBible.nThe New York Times assured its readers that “by far thenvast majority of Israelis are non-observant.” This couplednwith the contention that the “ultra-Orthodox” (what thenpress disdains, it often designates “ultra,” with the obviousnimplication of extremism) represent only 15 percent of thenpopulation leads to the erroneous conclusion that mostnIsraelis are antireligious. Actually, Orthodox and completelynsecularized Jews are probably the same proportion of thenpopulation. The majority of Israelis fall somewhere innbetween.nIndeed, the religious parties drew substantial supportnfrom the non-Orthodox electorate, such as Sephardic Jewsnwho might go to soccer matches on Saturday afternoon, butnexperience pangs of conscience over the lapse and listen tontheir rabbis on political matters. On the other hand, somenOrthodox probably voted for Likud or one of the smallernnationalist parties, putting the land question ahead ofn