Op-Ed: 'Et Tu Bennett' - A Hareidi Yeshiva Student's View
Rafi NewmanThe writer is a 23 year old Yeshiva Student learning in the Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem. He made aliya from the US in 1999 with his family.
I am genuinely horrified at the suggested hareidi draft “solution” that is being reported in the media. To my mind, it is reminiscent of the 2000-year-old plan against the Jews known as Fiscus Judaicus.
The goal of this plan was to break the back of Jews who steadfastly have, are, and always will be studying Torah. The Romans, after killing millions of Jews, were still unable to extinguish the Jewish religion. Therefore they proposed sanctions against those studying and offered incentives to encourage the old-fashioned Jews to leave their faith. With the black shadow of death lying over Israel as a result of the failed uprising of Bar Kochva, the Romans imposed “Fiscus Judaicus,” a taxation on the Jews to rid them of their Jewish character.
While the empire of Rome fell, the hate-fueled Fiscus Judaicus did not die with it. The concept was reformed to ‘”tolerance tax,” common in Russia, Poland, Galicia and many other countries.
A notable example of this was the protection tax imposed on Jews. If Jews wanted to be protected, they had to pay taxes. But protected from what? From invading armies? No. Protected from anti-Semitic attacks and pogroms. In other words, pay us or we won’t protect you from pogroms which we will incite if you don’t pay.
In Middle Eastern countries a similar tax called Jizya was leveled on the Jews. It was an extra tolerance and protection tax levied upon all non-Muslims, called Dhimmi.
By paying the extra tax, the wandering Jew was supposed to be tolerated, but were nevertheless incessantly subject to openly anti-Semitic remarks - and he felt himself lucky if the reactions were limited to remarks. A few notable examples:
"They are, all of them, born with raging fanaticism in their hearts, just as the Bretons and the Germans are born with blond hair. I would not be in the least bit surprised if these people would not some day become deadly to the human race." (Lettres de Memmius a Ciceron, 1771)
"You will only find in the Jews an ignorant and barbarous people, who for a long time have joined the most sordid avarice to the most detestable superstition and to the most invincible hatred of all peoples which tolerate and enrich them." ("Juif," Dictionnaire Philosophique)”
“They live among us in our homes, under our protection, use land and highways, market and streets. Princes and government sit by, snore and have their maws open, let the Jews take from their purse and chest, steal and rob whatever they will…For the Jews, as foreigners, certainly should have nothing from us; and what they have certainly must be ours. They do not work, do not earn anything from us, neither do we donate or give it to them. Yet they have our money and goods and are lords in our land where they are supposed to be in exile!” (Luther, Martin, 16th century German religious reformer)
Remnants of this sentiment seem to echo in the ISA (Shabak). Take for example Former Shabak Chief, Ephraim Halevy opining “The true threat to Israel comes from within, the extremism, the hareidiazation. This is what presents the true threat, more than Ahmadinejad.”
Lapid and Bennett’s platform in regard to the draft is Fiscus Judaicus. They plan to impose financial taxes and sanctions instead of Army service - a tolerance tax.
Beyond this, the partnership between Lapid and Bennet is nothing short of unnatural, because contrary to what many may think, there is a natural synergy between haredim and the settlers. Both live their lives sacrificing for their ideals, though the subject of that idealism may be different, and both are victims of the left-wing secular.
For decades, the settlers – like the hareidim – were victims of the pseudo-intellectual, anti-religious academic tirades by this same Yair Lapid who, together with his father Yossi Lapid, berated both hareidim and the land of Israel loyalists.
Yair Lapid’s articles are replete with diatribes such as one article against Bennett’s constituents called “Settlers know best?” in which Lapid expresses his outrage and indignation on how the country pays billions of shekels to settlements, for a minority which makes up only 4% of the population. Is that what Bennet also secretly believes?
It is the idealism of the National religious and hareidim that is a thorn in the side of the secular post-Zionists. In stark contrast to this idealism, Yair Lapid treats anything holy with contempt. He wishes to extinguish the light unto the nations.
To stop the bullying, Bennett has joined the bully to scapegoat the other victim, the hareidim, for everything that is wrong with this country.
Bennett joins Lapid in blaming the hareidim with the claim that if only they were in the army, if only they learned mathematics and English, if only they flooded the workplace, then housing would be affordable, university would be inexpensive, and everyone would earn much more money and pay fewer taxes.
This would be laughable if it were not so tragic. Though many blame the hareidim for not agreeing to join with Bayit Yehudi, MK Ayelet Shaked openly admitted that the Jewish Home never sat down with the haredi parties - in contradiction to MK Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) who claims that Shas refused to talk with them - to discuss a solution to the matter.
A good number of hareidim who strongly support settlements voted for Bennett. He beckoned to us holding out an olive branch and calling “brother!”, except that unbeknown to many, he held a sharpened dagger behind his back with the name Lapid etched on its blade. Bennett continues to call the haredim his brothers, but history is ridden with brothers who betray one another for personal gain.
The mantra of sharing the burden in military service and in the work force camouflages a hidden agenda: to close the hareidi yeshivas and to force the hareidim into situations which will compromise their religious observance.
I appeal to you, the national religious community – who believe in the Torah and who value dedication to learning Torah – you too have fulltime yeshiva students - to use your influence and power to advance our mutual moral imperatives. Because although today we will be subject to Fiscus Judaicus and the draft, tomorrow the settlements will be leveled, or left to wither.
The subject of the debate is not as relevant as the fact that Naftali Bennett negotiated for Lapid’s power and put him in critical political positions.
We feel that he betrayed us, do not be so sure that he will not betray you.