Last month United Torah Jewry MKs heckled a speech by Prime Minister Netanyahu and then walked out of the room. As the prime minister read out the names of the ministers in his new government, UTJ MK Yisrael Eichler shouted, “Jews don’t ban Jews” from the Knesset. (The reference was to demands by the Yesh Atid Party that haredi parties be excluded from Netanyahu’s new coalition.)
The MKs then walked out, returning once Netanyahu had finished. Speaking for UTJ in the Knesset session, MK Ya’akov Litzman said he feared the worst from the new government. Noting a statement by Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid that his party would turn out to be the best friends the haredi community had in the Knesset, Litzman skeptically told his listeners to “compare it to a declaration by Ahmad Tibi that he will ‘take care of the settlements’ if he ever joins a government.”
I’m considered haredi. So is my family. Yet I protest the chutzpah. I refute the audacity.
What happened here is simple: The baby lost his lollipop and threw a tantrum.
For years Lizman and Eichler and their party compatriots were part and parcel of governments led by Netanyahu. For years they sat on their leather chairs in their opulent offices with a cadre of secretaries and others to do their bidding – all under the leadership of Netanyahu. For years they sat at his table, enjoying every moment of their power .
In that time, did they secure some benefits for their constituents, for yeshivas and the poor? Yes, they did. And did they do this without ulterior motives? No, they did not. The trappings of their positions were enough to infuse them with an air of superiority. They considered themselves untouchable. Their posture stiffened as they grew to assume that Netanyahu couldn’t do without them and that they would always sit in the kitchen with their hands in the cookie jar.
“Jews Don’t Ban Jews” was one of the protest statements made by Eichler in the upheaval he created in the Knesset. But recent history tells a sorry story of actions taken by UTJ directed against other Jews. Eichler’s party was in cahoots with the other haredi parties in voting not to allow a national referendum to annex the Golan Heights. Why did Eichler’s party vote to “ban Jews” from becoming part of Israel? Was it because those Jews were not voting for haredi parties? Because those Jews wore kippot serugot?
In 2009 the haredi parties voted against inclusion of the Religious Zionists. And back in 2005, a few months prior to the execution of the Gaza Disengagement, UTJ joined the government in that fateful eleventh hour in order to give Ariel Sharon the support and legitimacy he needed to carry out the expulsion of nearly ten thousand Jews from their homes and the destruction of a number of flourishing Jewish communities.
Was that act of treachery by UTJ done because the great majority – if not 100 percent – of those expelled from Gaza were from the Religious Zionist camp rather than the haredi sector?
So how dare Eichler and Lizman say what they said when theirs was the party that banned Jews at every turn?
And let us not forget about the other haredi party that has been so insulted by its non-inclusion in the new government. Let us not forget how Shas supported the Oslo Accords, which brought us more than 1,500 murdered Jews. Let us not forget how Shas helped with the withdrawal from Hebron and the implementation of the Wye Agreement. And how in 1992 and 2006 Shas joined the government in order to keep Religious Zionist parties out.
In the recent campaign and its aftermath, the wearers of kippot serugot were shunned by haredi politicians almost as if they were non-Jews. But just listen to the loud and clear hysterics coming from the mouths of the haredi sore losers and remember who did what to whom over the years and you will know who really is in the business of banning other Jews.
UTJ and Shas begged and cried and cajoled in the hope that Netanyahu would ask them to join his government. They would have jumped at an invitation – and would do so now if one were tendered. Is there a clearer definition of hypocrisy?