Yuval Karni
Yuval Karni
Photo: Ynet
Moshe Gafni and Aryeh Deri attacking Naftali Bennett last week for joining the coalition for change and removing Benjamin Netanyahu from power

A violation of the Jewish spirit

Analysis: By attacking Naftali Bennett, Haredi political leaders have shown how disconnected they are from Israeli society, living up to the accusations that they claim to have sole authority over the Jewish faith and how it must be practiced

Yuval Karni |
Published: 06.11.21 , 09:05
The ultra-Orthodox parties in the Knesset held an emergency meeting earlier this week. They proclaimed their loyalty to outgoing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, rejected the option to join the new coalition that will replace him after 12 years in power and called on their constituents not to cooperate with the new government.
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  • The Haredi opposition to the so-called "coalition for change" is legitimate and understandable. The ultra-Orthodox public has been supported financially by the outgoing government and their leadership feels it is being pushed aside.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    אריה דרעי משה גפני
    אריה דרעי משה גפני
    Moshe Gafni and Aryeh Deri attacking Naftali Bennett last week for joining the coalition for change and removing Benjamin Netanyahu from power
    (Photo: Amit Shabi)
    These feelings should not be underestimated, but the Haredi politicians have been taking their legitimate protests to baffling extremes by claiming the new government represents the end of Israel as a Jewish state and that their members are on the verge of persecution the likes of which were only seen in pre-state times.
    "Take off your yarmulke," they demanded of Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett, calling him evil and a Reform Jew.
    In their eyes, this was the worse epithet yet and a reference to the liberal stream of Judaism practiced by much of the American Jewish community but berated and hated by the ultra-Orthodox.
    Shas leader Aryeh Deri said the first religious prime minister in Israeli history would destroy any remnant of Judaism that he claimed the ultra-Orthodox have fought to protect in Israel's 73 years, including Shabbat, Orthodox conversions and kashrut.
    "It will tear Jewish society apart, sending it back to live as it did in the days of the Diaspora," Deri lamented.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    הפגנות חרדים בבני ברק
    הפגנות חרדים בבני ברק
    Haredi demonstrators are hit by police water cannons as they protested IDF draft for members of their community
    (Photo: AFP)
    With their attacks on Bennett, the Haredi political leaders have shown how far they are disconnected from Israeli society, living up to the accusations against them that they claim to have sole authority over the Jewish faith and how it must be practiced.
    Telling a religious Jew to remove his yarmulke in a political dispute is a violation of the spirit of the Jewish faith.
    None of Deri's colleagues asked him to remove his own kippa when he was convicted of corruption and sentenced to jail in 1999.
    None of them told Yigal Amir to remove his after the religious Jewish extremist assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.
    And no one is suggesting that Yaakov Litzman, a leader of the United Torah Judaism party, remove his yarmulke after he was indicted for defending accused pedophile Malka Leifer as she fought her extradition to Australia for more than seven years.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    מלכה לייפר
    מלכה לייפר
    Accused pedophile Malka Leifer in court contesting her extradition to Australia to stand trial in 2019
    (Photo: Amit Shabi)
    Bennett's crime is that his intended government does not include the ultra-Orthodox parties. His political conduct may be worthy of condemnation, but his yarmulke should remain where it is.
    The new government that will be sworn in on Sunday is made up of parties representing the right, the left and the center of Israel's political spectrum and includes a fair amount of religious members.
    It does not have a Haredi contingency, but nor does it intend to wage war against this sector of Israeli society.
    The wailing chest-beating of the Haredi party leaders is pure political theater and likely driven by their own interests and not those of their voters.

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