Over the past week there have been several unpleasant exchanges between members of Shas and Jewish Home (Bayit Yehudi) , with the former accusing the latter of planning to join a government in which Yesh Atid will be a senior member, and support the party's implementation of a plan that would severely curb the number of hareidi yeshiva students who would be exempted from IDF service.
According to plans promoted by Lapid, only 400 of the top scholars in hareidi yeshivas would receive exemptions from military service. Everyone else would have to serve in the army, or at least national service. Shas MKs have accused Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett of planning to support this plan as the price for his entry into the government being formed by Binyamin Netanyahu.
Bennett, for his part, said in a speech earlier this week that he was not of a single mind with Lapid. “I want to say this clearly: We will work on behalf of the entire Torah world, not just that of religious Zionist institutions. We will not allow the Torah world to be damaged. Torah learning is important to the entire Jewish people, not just the hareidim. The hareidim are our brothers, not our enemies.” And speaking to Arutz Sheva Tuesday, newly-sworn in Jewish Home MK Yoni Chetbun said that MKs from both parties had met earlier Tuesday, and had come to a “meeting of the minds,” with both sides pledging to do what they could to build bridges with their constituents.
But on Thursday, a new anti-Bennett screed appeared in the weekly Shas-affiliated Yom Leyom newspaper. Because of his background, the newspaper says, Bennett cannot possibly understand the importance of full-time Torah study.
“Bennett admits that he grew up in a non-observant home that had no Torah values at all,” the newspaper said in an op-ed piece. “If we are to judge him on his actions so far, he is apparently more than willing to lend a hand to the demolishing of Torah institutions. This, using a mandate given to him by hundreds of thousands of observant voters.
“It began on election night, when he said he would not be bound by the decisions of his movement's rabbis,” the op-ed continued. “It continued with declarations by Ayelet Shaked that the conversion process was 'onerous,' Bennett's continued pronouncements that the status quo on religious matters is outdated – something even Yair Lapid has not dared to say – and proceeding to the alliance between Bennett and Lapid. This is who is at the head of the Religious Zionist movement,” the op-ed concluded.
Media attacks aside, in recent days, leaders of the hareidi community have sought assistance from rabbis in the Religious Zionist movement on the matter of the hareidi draft, Arutz Sheva has been informed. Among those involved in the matter are Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed of Beit Yeshiva, venerable rabbinic leader Rabbi Chaim Druckman, Rabbi Yaakov Shapira of Merkaz Harav and others.