I am allowing myself to turn to you in this manner because throughout the election campaign you gave the impression that you are "one of us," a man of the people. Despite the fact that I consider myself a haredi, I respect the integrity you displayed throughout the campaign very much. Unlike other candidates, you focused on presenting your political platform rather than attacking other candidates. This was the right thing to do.
I am writing this letter to you because I believe you are holding the key to running this country. To be more specific, these elections placed a great responsibility on your shoulders: It is up to you to prevent civil war in Israel. It's as simple as that.
I am sure you are a very intelligent man who understands the equal share of the burden (also called "drafting yeshiva boys") issue very well. This is a very serious issue, and the next government will have to address it. This issue may exacerbate the religious-secular divide in Israel and lead to civil war.
It is very easy to decide on a universal draft and, seemingly, to be done with it. The question is what will Yesh Atid do with regards to the tens of thousands of seculars who dodge the IDF draft each year? I have yet to get an answer on this from any politician. Deciding on a universal draft would result in the outbreak of a civil war within a few months. The ultra-Orthodox will not relent. Moreover, as the draft becomes more coercive, the resistance to it will intensify.
Great responsibility. Yair Lapid (Photo: EPA)
Therefore, it will be your job to find a way to draft the haredim who should be drafted (particularly those who do nothing - they are frowned upon by the rabbis as well) while allowing those yeshiva boys who do study to continue to do so. You must find the right mechanism to check who among the ultra-Orthodox should be exempt from IDF service under the Torato Emunato (Torah is his profession") arrangement and who shouldn't. This can only be done through dialogue.
If you will be wise enough to remain truthful and continue to lead rather than be cast into the garbage bin of political history in Israel, you will have to reach an agreement with the haredim. Only by sitting with Deri, Gafni, Rabbi Yosef and Rabbi Steinman will you be able to resolve this issue. I am certain Naftali Bennett will be glad to help you out and connect you with the right people in the haredi world. There are people within your own Yesh Atid party who can help you with this as well; Rabbi Shai Piron for example.
Yair, you must keep in mind that the key to the continued existence of the State of Israel is in your hands. Your role is crucial. Now is the time to reach an agreement between the seculars and haredim. The haredim understand that a solution is needed, but a good solution is one that comes only from the understanding that the haredi population is different; it has different beliefs and different needs. One must be very creative to find a way to combine the secular and ultra-Orthodox worlds.
If you succeed in reaching an agreement on such an important tissue, you will be able to reach agreements with the haredim on other matters as well - and certainly promote your agenda. If you choose not to follow this path, you will be responsible for a civil war, should it break out.
Ohad Shaked is a history and civics teacher