Naftali Bennett has made a huge mistake. Driven by emotion—blaming Sara Netanyahu for his new pact with Yesh Atid Leader Yair Lapid, and the sense of rage many of us in the National Religious camp feel towards the likes of Aryeh Deri, and towards the Haredim who look down on us as being not much better than the secular in terms of our Jewish merits—he has gotten himself into the worst possible partnership.
Before I proceed, I must add that in many ways Bennett is merely the newest victim of a terrible situation in which wife of the prime minister has been intimidating her husband and through him the politics of the entire country. Everyone in the Israeli media is familiar with this pathological mess, as does the political class, but to date no one has been able to effectively control it. Bennett did not invent Sara Netanyahu, he was simply foolish enough to cross her, and then not smart enough to realize what an enemy he has created. If Bennett’s clashes with Sara Netanyahu lead, God forbid, to the evacuation of Jewish homes, it would be a catastrophe reminiscent of “the modesty of Rabbi Zecharia ben Avkules destroyed our Temple.” (Gittin 56a).
In their declaration of fealty, which they repeat incessantly, both Yair and Naftali are telling the world how, when sitting together in government, they’re going to collaborate on those 90% of the issues about which they both fully agree: they’re both in favor of free enterprise and less red tape, they both favor rational religious legislation—Ayelet Shaked even wants civil marriages for those the Rabbinate has declared unweddable.
Yair (and his two rabbis, Shai Piron and Dov Lipman) wouldn’t mind, I expect, giving the Ministry of Religious Services to Habayit Hayehudi, and appointing the much deserving Tzohar chairman Rabbi David Stav Chief Rabbi. And I suppose Bennett, who is kind of a Libertarian on many issues, wouldn’t get in the way of public transportation on Shabbat for those communities that want it (e.g. Tel Aviv).
And both Lapid and Bennett agree that it’s high time the Haredim carried the burden of military service and full participation in the work force like the rest of us. I mean, how many among us don’t feel that the majority of those Haredim don’t even belong inside a yeshiva, that they should stop living like parasites and stop the pretense of saving “klal yisroel” by warming up a yeshiva bench.
This proud, new Lapid-Bennett axis agrees on so much, except for those meaningless 10% of the issues where their thinking is radically different. That, of course, is the part where the Netanyahu-Lapid-Livni axis freezes construction—any construction—in the homes of half a million National Religious Israelis, and then comes to the homes of 100 thousand National Religious Israelis and puts them on trucks because they live on the wrong side of the security fence.
Check out the Yesh Atid list of MKs and find even one—including the two honorable rabbis—who fought against the Gush Katif mass expulsion of between eight and ten thousand Jews. Back in 2004, Rabbi Piron, when asked for a psak (halachic ruling) on what to do about the Gush Katif plot, prescribed doing what we can to avoid the uprooting, but only with love, because on the other side stood great patriots who felt, innocently—not my cynical interpretation, his—that this way they’ll bring peace to the land. And then the good rabbi added, with love, that “we settled on the hilltops at the expense of settling in the hearts” of Israelis. Meaning, of course, the hearts of the good rabbi’s friends on the left who would like to see all of us in a DP camp south of Beer Sheva.
And MK Dov Lipman had this refreshing thing to say to Paperblog: “If, and I emphasize if, we reach a point where we have an internationally backed agreement which they will sign (not like Gush Katif which was unilateral) which includes our terms including an undivided Yerushalayim, then I believe we would have to accept it even though that means the painful giving up of Jewish homes and land.”
And those are just Lapid’s Rabbis! For heaven’s sake, talk about the camel giving a lift across the river to the scorpion! The Yesh Atid list is comprised of anti-Orthodox professionals. The entire country was talking last week about MK Ruth Calderon’s opening speech, where she taught a blat gemorah from the podium and showed how Jewish tradition belongs not only to the black hats and not even just to the knitted yarmulkes, but to the hatless as well. Marvelous, not a dry eye in the house. But check out Calderon’s anti-Orthodox record, and you’ll discover anything but a yearning for mutual respect and acceptance.
But forget about those relatively harmless wall flowers, whose actual influence on the politics of expulsion has been negligible—because no one has given them the power so far—and look at the number 5 man on Lapid’s list, former GSS head Yaakov Peri, who’s been advocating the expulsion of Gaza, Judea and Samaria Jews his entire career, who signed the Ayalon-Nusseiba petition calling for the splitting of Jerusalem – this is Naftali Bennett’s ally!
If, God forbid, the Lapid-Bennett axis succeeds in forcing itself on Netanyahu “as is,” we will have created the most formidable enemy of the settlements since the time Yossi Sarid and Yossi Beilin held office and brought us Oslo. Moreover, Bennett can make it possible for Lapid to gain some prestige as a brilliant this or that minister—let’s face it, despite his dubious education and occasionally strange notions of history, math and other Core Curriculum (Limudei Libah) problems, the man has flash—in two to four years Lapid can emerge as the new white hope of the left, leading a Nouveau Oslo government—obviously without Likud and without Habayit Hayehudi.
And what is this burning problem of the “equal burden” that must be faced head on this minute? The refusal of nearly eight percent of Israelis—the Haredim—to serve in the army. Man, this burns us up. It makes us sick, just looking at these young men with their hats and their beards, and their Eastern European dress, total parasites—while more than 20% of the population, Israeli Arabs, are just as parasitic on every single issue, except for the fact that they also, on occasion, collaborate with our enemies.
Sadly, Naftali Bennett was not thinking like a Jew this time around, and, I believe, acted on his feelings and not with his head. We’ve all been so enamored with the idea that Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi together comprise 31 MKs, exactly as many as the Likud Beitenu does, and some have even quipped that our own “pact” is stronger than the Liberman-Netanyahu marriage.
But, you know, Habayit Hayehudi together with Shas and United Torah Judaism comprise 30 MKs, with the difference being that it is wholly Jewish, never mind the cultural differences, and that over there Bennett actually carries the biggest stick.
Folks, despite the cultural differences, the more astute—and learned—members of Habayit Hayehudi, working with the likes of Eli Yishai from Shas and Meir Porush from UTJ, could settle the “equal burden” thing in a day. The yeshivas are just as interested in getting rid of their freeloaders, the punks who hang around “Cats Square” in Jerusalem, doing drugs and beating up unsuspecting Arab passersby—they just need to find a way of looking good doing it.
And despite the sad record of Shas in the ushering in of Oslo—the vast majority of Haredi politicians today are not enemies of the settlements, especially since so many Haredim, their voters, live outside the “green line.”
It’s not too late, folks, for the more introspective and astute members of Habayit Hayehudi (I’m looking at you, Uri Orbach) to forge the axis in which we could all rejoice, the axis of Torah Jews who are willing to overcome their relatively minute differences on military service, and compromise over the chief rabbinate, which has been turned into the private property of the Haredim (whose voters don’t even use its services).
Other than that, I’d like to find out I have 30 proud, pro-settlement Orthodox representatives in the Netanyahu government, uniting in offsetting the Livni-Mofaz direction—rather than a leftist government our man Naftali helped create with his sweet, home grown naivete.
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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