Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid said on Monday that he is not against Israel’s hareidi-religious population. He made the comments during an interview on Radio Kol Chai regarding the issue of equality in the burden.
“I do not hate any Jew in the world,” said Lapid. “We need to be in a Jewish state and that's important. I think the value of Torah study does not contradict with national service or with working.”
Lapid added that in a community like the hareidi-religious one, where charity and working for the community is considered a cornerstone, it is also important for individuals to join the civil service.
“The fact that a hareidi does it within a framework of national service means that he lives in a broader community and is contributing to that community, just as Jews have always contributed to the community,” he said, adding, “I think the hareidim in Israel are full citizens, I think they are a good and talented public and that they can go to serve in the army at the age of 18.”
Lapid said that he does not support Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon’s proposed outline for equal service, calling it “an insult.”
Ya’alon’s proposed law would gradually increase the number of those who serve, among the hareidim and among the Arabs, without setting public against public.
Lapid has previously presented his own plan which would give, in the first stage, an automatic exemption from serving in the IDF to all hareidim.
The second stage of the plan would be implemented five years later and as part of it, every citizen who turns 18 will be required to enlist in the army or perform civil service. The size of the army will be determined by a multi-year plan which will be tailored to Israel’s security needs.
Those who refuse to serve, according to Lapid’s plan, will lose all their rights to benefits and scholarships with the exception of national insurance.
Shas Chairman Eli Yishai later warned that Lapid “is acting like the wolf in the story of Little Red Riding Hood: He's trying to hide his sharp teeth and his hatred. He learned the lesson from his father, Tommy of blessed memory. He is indeed anti-hareidi but he knows how to hide his extremism.”
Tommy Lapid, Yair’s father, headed the staunchly secular and openly anti-hareidi Shinui party, which gained 15 seats in the Knesset before disbanding.
The controversy over the universal draft law involves the issue of canceling the traditional deferments from military service to force full-time Torah students to abandon their studies to serve in the army. Many secular Israelis are granted similar deferments on the basis of their status as entertainers or sports figures -- an issue that has not been raised in any of the general media coverage on the universal draft.