Yair Lapid used his first month as finance minister to study the material and keep in touch with the outside world via Facebook. But this week he took the Knesset plenum by storm. His maiden speech was undoubtedly the best show in town, and the silent majority, comprised mainly of the middle class and the poor – cheered him on from home.
It was a bit uncomfortable to watch the patrons of the State since its inception, now members of the opposition, huddled together, looking for excuses for the problems they left behind. But they deserve to be in this situation. Lapid entered a space that has been abandoned by all the previous governments.
The haredim always knew how to take advantage of their political power and laughed at us all the way to the Finance Committee. It was evident in every field: They have never shouldered their share of the burden (military service, work and taxes), and what caused the greatest antagonism among the average citizens was the fact that a minority was determining the majority's lifestyle.
Lapid is right; there is a reason the deficit grew to its current size. It is all a matter of priorities - millions of shekels are transferred each year to the haredi education system (Torani); close to a billion shekels are allocated to the kollels and hundreds of millions more are transferred to religious councils and public institutions. Did these funds not contribute to the deficit? Lapid is right – the working public always pays the price of the minority, and not only with regards to funding.
During his speech at the opening of the Knesset's summer session, Lapid came under fire from haredi MKs for posting on Facebook on Shabbat. Lapid responded by saying, "Don't tell me what to do on Shabbat, and I won't tell you what to do on Shabbat," and once again brought to the forefront the majority's frustration with the influence of the ultra-Orthodox on all aspects of daily life.
Israel may be the only Western country whose citizens are shackled under the rule of religion and where public transportation is not available on Saturday. Now all we can do is wait and let Lapid do the work, despite the painful economic measures this will involve. What other choice do we have?