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July 3, 2015 / 16 Tammuz, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘UTJ’

Gafni Says UTJ Will Only Go with Right

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

Moshe Gafni, the co-chairman of the Chareidi UTJ party said, “Rav Shach would never let us go with the Left, Degel HaTorah [Gafni’s faction in UTJ] has never gone with a leftwing government.”

The statements were made at a Degel HaTorah party meeting to party leaders and activists, according to a Bechadarei Chareidim video and report.

Actually, in July 1999, UTJ (and Moshe Gafni) sat in Ehud Barak’s leftwing government, side by side with Meretz (along with Shas, Liberman’s Yisrael B’Aliyah and the Mafdal).

To their credit, UTJ left the coalition in September of 1999, due to an open breach of Shabbat by the government when it ordered the transport of a large turbine generator for the electric company on Shabbat.

Gafni said that Degel HaTorah would have no problem going with the Left, in fact the Left would make sure the Chareidim receive even more money from the government.

But, Gafni said, Rav Shach [Degel HaTorah’s late spiritual founder] said the party needed to worry about the children of the non-religious who are learning in the public schools, over a million of them, who don’t know what is “Shema Yisrael,” implying that a Rightwing government helps in that area.

After the UTJ party became excluded from the current coalition, Gafni became an extremely vocal and enraged voice against the “Dati-Leumi” sector, even going as far as threatening to destroy Hesder Yeshivas and dry out the settlements in revenge when he gets back in power particularly in response to the Shaked Enlistment Law.

It appears Gafni’s pronouncement regarding the Left was made in reaction to Aryeh Deri’s recent statement that the Shas party would not join a leftwing government, which then put pressure on UTJ to also declare their allegiances for their rightfully concerned voters.

Lapid Freezes Funding for Draft-Delayed Haredim

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Finance Minister Yair Lapid on Wednesday froze the money going to Haredi yeshivas, following a Tuesday Supreme Court ruling that ordered the state to halt all payments to yeshivas whose students’ draft has been postponed.

Lapid instructed the Finance Ministry’s comptroller to freeze the payments, but on Thursday he issued a statement saying that, after discovering that the funds had already been sent to the Education Ministry, he convened an emergency meeting with his comptroller following which he ordered her to block those funds as well.

Lapid’s statement said that this was done in an effort to obey the high court’s ruling.

Now the two offices will be cooperating to separate the 18- to 20-year-old yeshiva students with an August draft postponement, who will not be paid, from the rest of the yeshiva students.

“These will no longer receive state funds,” said the Lapid statement. “Only once the Education Ministry’s examination of their cases is concluded will the Finance Ministry release the funds to those yeshiva students not included in the court ruling.”

The Supreme Court ruled on several appeals from so called good government groups. The court ordered government to issue an updated announcement by March 31 regarding the pay, saying the justices might issue a new decision should the Knesset not come up with new legislation by then.

Meanwhile, the justices have prohibited government to transfer any funds “intended to support Torah institution students born in 1994, 95 and the first half of 96, who received their draft date starting in August, 2013, and who have not shown up to be drafted based on general decisions to postpone their draft made by the IDF Chief of Staff.”

So, everybody wins: Lapid gets to show his few remaining potential voters that he’s tough on parasitic Haredim; the Haredi yeshiva deans get to show the world that Israel hates Torah; and Yeshiva students and their families get a rare opportunity to drop their nasty habit of eating several times a day and living in homes.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

MK Yaakov Litzman (UTJ) responded strongly to Health Minister Yael German’s (Yesh Atid) proposed legislation that would permit the state to automatically harvest organs from all dead Israeli without their explicit consent, unless the citizen previously signed a organ donor refusal card.

Litzman said, according to an Arutz-7 report, “This disgusting proposal has no place in a democratic, equitable and ethical state. This is clear and outrageous anti-religious [secular] coercion.”

‘That’s Just How It Is In The Knesset’

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Last week, a few minutes after my stormy exchange with haredi members of Knesset, I went to what we in the Knesset call the “back cafeteria.” It is not exactly a cafeteria but rather a lounge area behind the plenum where members of Knesset alone can enter.

There are couches and chairs, a smoking room, an espresso machine, and a large plasma TV that broadcasts the Knesset channel. This is the place where Knesset members can rest a little, gossip, close deals, and even develop friendships far from the public eye.

I took a coffee and sat with two fellow Yesh Atid MKs, Rena Frenkel and Yifat Kariv, who were still short of breath from the emotions that had just been unleashed in the plenum. After a minute, UTJ MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni, whom I had engaged in most of the debate, appeared next to us.

Gafni is a complex person. Most of the time in the plenum he acts haughty, attacking and shouting – a “hero of interruptions” who is equipped, as I mentioned from the podium, with a very strong pair of lungs that enable him to deafen you without a microphone.

But the moment he is away from the cameras he becomes a sweet, reasonable person whom you can come to agreements with regarding laws and committee work. In my eyes, and apparently in his as well, this is not duplicitous. When one is in the plenum, one is a representative of the public. When one is in the back cafeteria, one can be a human being.

“You are making a mistake, Rabbi Gafni,” I told him.

“Regarding what?” he asked.

“Regarding the debate.”

“Why?”

“Listen,” I said. “Tomorrow I am ascending the stage at the National Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv to give my first comprehensive speech as finance minister. I am going to present the principles of the economic policies I plan to present to the government, to provide details regarding my vision for Israeli society, and to explain for the first time the reforms the finance ministry is planning to pass in the Economic Arrangement Law. ”

“So what was the mistake?” Gafni asked.

“The mistake,” I answered, “is that from every perspective it would be better for me to present this speech in the Knesset. In my view, it is more democratic and more fitting that members of Knesset be the first to hear from the finance minister regarding his financial program rather than reading about it the next day in the newspaper.”

“You are very right,” said Gafni, “so why don’t you do that?”

“Because your faction won’t let me even complete the first sentence,” I said. “We both know precisely what will happen. I will start to speak, you will begin to scream, and I won’t succeed in explaining anything. An economic plan is complex and it deserves to have a real discourse and thoughtful dialogue based on facts and realities. I need twenty-five minutes to explain the budget and I don’t think it is too much to ask MKs to listen with seriousness and without interruptions for twenty-five minutes to something that will set the course for the country’s economy.

“If you would agree to give me this opportunity, I am prepared to sit afterward for six straight hours, to listen to your side regarding every detail in the budget, to take notes, and to look into every issue with seriousness and in good faith.”

“It doesn’t work that way,” said Gafni.

“Why not?”

“Because that’s just how it is in the Knesset.”

“What kind of answer is that? If that is so, then we need to change it.”

“It won’t work.”

“But don’t you agree with me,” I insisted, “that this is how it should work? That this will bring honor to the Knesset and to ourselves?”

“It could be,” Gafni said with hesitation.

“So I want to challenge you,” I said. “Go to the members of the opposition and get them organized. Tell them the time has come to change the rules of the game and create a new discourse. We will establish a couple of hours without interruptions from the floor and I will listen to you and you will listen to me. Perhaps a dialogue will emerge that will make us better. Want to try?”

What Are They Crying About?

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

It is difficult to understand the ultra-Orthodox reaction to its exclusion from the government coalition. After all, that’s how it goes in politics – sometimes you are in, sometimes you are out. For many long years, the ultra-Orthodox were in the coalition and the religious Zionists were out. Now they have changed places.

So what? Why all the lamenting, cries of despair and threats of destruction of the settlements, God forbid? Everybody with some common sense knows that nobody is going to send the yeshiva boys to prison camps and that no serious Torah learner is going to have to stop learning. What is causing such an exaggerated ultra-Orthodox reaction? It doesn’t make them look very good, so why throw years of friendly cooperation into the trashcan? Why incite baseless hatred of their constituency? What is going on here?

To understand the ultra-Orthodox, religious Zionists must remember how they felt and reacted after the Expulsion from Gush Katif. “How can you possibly compare the two?” you may ask. “Entire communities were razed in Gush Katif and with the ultra-Orthodox, it is simply a questions of politics.”

That is true. The destruction experienced by the religious Zionists was entirely real, and the pain of the expelled unbearable. But the intensity of the grief and the religious Zionist reaction to the Expulsion were much more than simple sharing of the pain of those driven from their homes. Settlements were destroyed before Gush Katif – and subsequently, as well.

In Gush Katif something much bigger than houses was destroyed. It seemed that what was destroyed there was ideology. That was the source of the deep pain and grief. That was what motivated the lamentation and the heartbreaking images, images like the picture of the Netzarim expellees carrying the menorah from their synagogue, creating an immediate association with the image of the menorah from the Beit HaMikdash being carried by the Jews exiled from Jerusalem.

That same destruction of ideology is what is being experienced now by the ultra-Orthodox. Interestingly, the reaction of the religious Zionists then and the ultra-Orthodox now are amazingly similar.

Until the expulsion from Gush Katif, the religious Zionists still believed that the redemption process was on “automatic pilot.” True, there were some malfunctions (some of them major) here and there but they could be explained away or ignored.

In Yamit Israel succumbed to the enticement of “peace,” and Oslo could be blamed on the Left. But when the Expulsion took place, Yair Lapid offered this explanation: “We had to teach you a lesson.” In other words, we drove you from your homes and destroyed your communities because we – the mainstream of the return to Zion – are simply unwilling to accept your interpretation, your ideology and your Rabbi Kook. So please get out of our sights and let us live our daily lives without your unbearable Messianism.

That is why we cried so bitterly. Not only about Gush Katif. We cried because they threw us out, threw out our belongings after us, and slammed the door shut – while life in Israel continued as if nothing had happened. It was much more than Gush Katif. It was the ideological breaking point and ultimate humiliation. The tears were meant to make our mainstream “father and mother” open the door for us once again.

Now that we understand what happened to the religious Zionists, we can understand what the ultra-Orthodox are experiencing. Certainly not with the same intensity, for to them Zionism is much less a father and mother than it is to the religious Zionists. But it is the same insult, based on the ultra-Orthodox feeling of belonging to the state. The Neturei Karta sect, for example, vociferously opposed to the state, was not insulted at all.

In other words, the more insulted the ultra-Orthodox are, the more they show how much they belong to the collective. And that is good news.

…To be continued

Strange Bedfellows

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

If there was ever a question about whether all Orthodox Jews support settlers this should end it. Haredi media personalities last week called for a boycott of Judea and Samaria products. That’s right. They have joined the BDS movement. At least the “B” part of it.

For those unfamiliar with the term – BDS stands for Boycott, Divest, and Sanction. This is a campaign started in 2005 by Palestinians and their sympathizers who claim that Israel is an oppressive occupier of innocent Palestinians. They have called for a boycott of all products and divestment of any businesses who have dealings with Judea and Samaria. They have also called for sanctions against the State of Israel itself until they give in to all the Palestinian demands including but not limited to “returning” the territory to its “rightful owners” the Palestinian people.

Most of us thought that anyone who supports sanctions like these are either anti-Semites or seriously misguided if well intentioned people. Many of whom are Jews. Misguided because they fail to see the broader picture; do not factor in historical facts or security issues. Well intended because at least in some cases they see what appears to be injustices and want them to be corrected.

The Haredi world apparently feels the same way. They could not care less if Israel retains Judea and Samaria – as long as their Mosdos (religious institutions) get funded. That is the reason for the boycott. From JTA – here is the way some Haredi media personalities put it:

“We need to think twice about supporting those who hate us. It’s about time we stop being suckers,” commentator Avi Bloom said, according to the Times of Israel. “When Bennett cries about mothers not being able to sleep at night, you can come and ask him by what right does he not allow Tel Aviv mothers, and now ultra-Orthodox mothers as well, to sleep at night because of the need to protect some random outpost.”

Kol Baramah commentator Yaakov Rivlin echoed the sentiment. “It’s time to end all these relations with the real estate dealers in the West Bank territories,” he said.

A senior columnist for the Hamodia newspaper, Yisrael Hershkowitz, wrote, “The settlements will pay the price for the costly arrogance” of Bennett.

Hershkowitz said companies located in Jewish settlements in the West Bank or companies owned by settlers could go out of business if boycotted by haredim.

Now I am no supporter of settlements. Certainly not those “random outposts” that are there for Religious Zionist reasons about settling all of Eretz Yisroel. Although I do believe in that religious principle I do not believe now is the time for that. In fact believe that Israel should do whatever it can to avoid conflict with Palestinians or exacerbate their enmity. Israel should bend over backwards to avoid oppressive measures to the extent that it is able to do so without compromising the safety of its citizens. I believe that Israel tries to do that to the best of their ability despite accusations to the contrary by the BDS people.

I believe that Haredim are on the same page with me on the issue of West Bank settlements. But where I part company with them is when they start boycotting people – not because they think Israel is being excessively harsh on the Palestinian people. But because they think it will pressure the government into continuing its financial support at previous levels. And also because of their opposition to the political right wing (that champions the cause West Bank settlements and includes Religious Zionists) that insist Haredim have to subject themselves to the draft equally with all citizens. Haredim want them to ‘pay a price’! for all of that, it seems.

So there you have it – BDS and Haredim uniting to boycott the Jewish State – even if not in common cause. Never in a million years would I have ever predicted this unholy coalition. And yet… there it is.

There is something not quite right when religious Jews unite with enemies of the Jewish people to undermine the Jewish State. Even if one does not support the settlements, to boycott them along with our enemies because of financial considerations or as a means to punish political opponents does not become people who claim to be the most religious and God fearing among us.

Although it is off-putting to see all of this happening, one can understand why they do it. The Haredi world in Israel exists financially to a great extent because of government largess. That is why the Haredi parties always join in coalition with the governing party regardless of whether it is a right wing or left wing one. It is their way of getting the most financial support by promising to vote with them on political matters.

Haredim are not political right wingers or left wingers. They are interested only in continuity. They know that much of their community depends on those government stipends just to survive at poverty level. As do their institutions. They believe that dedication to full time Torah study and nothing less is the true Derech HaShem. They therefore see all of this as Hishtadlus – putting forth maximum effort to see that their lifestyle continues unabated.

Desperate men do desperate things. If that means destroying the livelihoods of Judea and Samaria residents via a boycott of their products – so be it.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Disappointed But Not Surprised

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

I know that this is their view. Nonetheless, it still pains me when I see them saying so in such stark black and white terms. I am referring to the recent statement by the Agudah Moetzes endorsing the views of their Israeli counterparts on the issue of drafting Yeshiva students. They are obviously very opposed.

While I accept that the members of the Moetzes are talmidei hachamim with few peers; and that their views should be respected, I have to say that there are times – like this one – that makes it very difficult for me to do so. Not because I don’t respect their knowledge. Nor do I suspect that their views are anything but l’shem shomayim – for the sake of heaven. I truly believe that they are selfless human beings that have dedicated their lives to doing the will of God and serving Klal Yisroel.

Here is a translation of their most recent proclamation from the Baltimore Jewish Life:

We are deeply dismayed by the efforts in Eretz Yisroel to draft B’nei Yeshiva and remove them from the Beis Medrash, the wellspring of Torah to which they dedicate their days and nights. The perseverance and security of Hashem’s people are rooted in its dedication to Torah study, as Chazal comment on the posuk “Our feet were standing at your gates, Yerushalayim”: “What will enable our feet to stand firm in war? The gates of Yerushalayim, where [Jews] devote themselves to Torah study.”

We appeal to the members of the government in Israel not to take any steps that will in any way negatively affect the B’nei Yeshiva and their study of Torah. For Torah study is “our life and the length of our days,” which will “lead us, upright, forever.” Like I said, this is no surprise. But it bothers me just the same. I understand the issue. They say that Torah study is what saves the world. That without it, the world would cease to exist… and that certainly Torah study is what protects the Jewish people. Granted. But what this statement does not say is that security requires not only Torah study but in the case of Israel – an army. This very simple fact – and it is a fact – was acknowledged in public by Rav Haim Shmulevitz, a Gadol of an earlier generation. I can’t even count anymore the times I’ve quoted this revered sage of the 20th century on this issue. He did not make it up. Nor is there any rabbinic opposition to this fact. It is the truth. It’s called hishtadlus – maximum mental and physical effort. Hishtadlus in this case requires that we do whatever earthly things we can to accomplish the goal of protecting Jewish lives. Which means that we do not rely on miracles. If there were no army, there would be no hishtadlus. It is true that Torah holds up the world. But as R’ Haim said we need not only a spiritual army. We need a physical army as well. If that were not so, there would no such thing as a milchemes mitzvah (a war mandated by God). We would just all sit in a beis hamedrash and study Torah until our enemies were destroyed by fire and brimstone from heaven. David HaMelech captured Jerusalem not by staying in the beis hamedrash but by going to war.

This statement does not address that issue. Nor does it answer the pain and suffering of families whose sons have been maimed or killed in doing their hishtadlus in battle, while yeshiva students do theirs in relative safety. The idea of “sharing the burden” which is what proponents of drafting Haredim want – is based on this kind of inequity. Why do they not address it? How can they not? How can they just say they are dismayed by a possible draft without addressing this issue?

Nor do they explain why they feel that the status quo ante should remain untouched in any way? I could better understand if they had said that there ought not be a draft for Haredim – if they qualified it with the requirement to root out those who are faking it or just going through the motions because of peer pressure. Or maybe even those who are learning but not quite at the level one would expect of someone who is Torah umnaso (Torah is his job).

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/disappointed-but-not-surprised/2013/02/21/

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