As absurd as this may sound, the ultra-Orthodox community is paying a price for daring to join rightist governments, especially if these are led by Benjamin Netanyahu. The anti-haredi wave that had been sweeping through Israel in recent weeks is part of the overall animosity towards the Netanyahu government, which haredi parties are full partners in.
As a whole, the haredi public is not rightist and features a great diversity of opinion. It includes rightist groups, very large groups that are part of the centrist camp, and groups holding views that are more leftist than Kadima's positions.
The Orthodox community never took part in rightist rallies and never viewed itself as part of Israel's rightist camp. The haredim mostly keep their views to themselves. For the most part, haredi papers also refrain from taking an unequivocal stance. This is true in respect to Shas, and certainly in respect to United Torah Judaism.
In recent years, only because of the sobering up in the face of diplomatic processes, it appears that the haredi community had shifted to the right. However, this is not the case. The Orthodox community may be more realistic and more skeptical, yet it is not rightist by definition.
The haredi community does not view the Greater Israel as the start of our salvation process and does not rush to the Judea and Samaria hills.
For the sake of those who forgot it, we shall note that Shas was part of the government at the time of the Oslo Accords, and that United Torah Judaism was in Sharon's government during the Gaza disengagement (although it voted against the plan.)
Generally speaking, haredi party representatives barely address political-diplomatic issues. In order to maintain the status quo, the haredi community joins any government it feels welcome in. In most cases, the haredim are a convenient partner.
Keep future in mindHowever, while the haredim are not bothered when they are part of leftist or centrist governments, because diplomatic progress is worth the partnership at almost any price, joining a rightist government subjects the Orthodox community to incitement and character assassination.
It happened not too long ago that Tzipi Livni – who currently seeks to join forces with Netanyahu to curb haredi extortion – sought to form a government. Emissaries on her behalf arrived at the homes of United Torah Judaism representatives bearing pledges that are more substantial than the ones offered by Netanyahu.
The only demand made of Livni was to refrain from holding talks on Jerusalem at this time. Everything was fair game, yet given the current security situation, where we are being fired at from any territory we give up, there should be no negotiations on east Jerusalem. Yet Livni refused to declare this publically.
There is no doubt that should Livni win the next elections, it will ask United Torah Judaism, and possibly Shas, to join the government. She will certainly prefer them over a government with Likud, for example – especially if Netanyahu will demand a rotation, as she did before.
Yet now, Livni is attempting to ride the anti-haredi wave in a bid to score political points. However, she would do well to take the future into consideration as well – not only vis-à-vis the Palestinians or Israeli Arabs; also vis-à-vis the haredim.