Forcing hareidi men to enlist in the IDF would mean “rebellion and chaos” on the streets of Israel, says one of the Shas party’s three leaders, Minister Eli Yishai.
“Thousands and hundreds of thousands of people would march in the streets, thousands of yeshiva students would fill the prisons,” Yishai told Yisrael Hayom.
“The military police would run around Bnei Brak, there would be rebellion and chaos, and worse, even those who do enlist today would stop doing so,” he continued. “The ones who would get stronger would be the extremists, who would say, ‘Here you go. You see it’s impossible to work with the state, we have to work against it.’”
Yishai admitted that reports of an agreement between the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) faction and Yesh Atid had caused him concern. In response, he said, “I went to the spiritual leadership,” turning to religious-Zionist rabbis to persuade them of Shas’ cause.
“It was not an attempt to create an alliance, or to form a bloc saying, ‘you’ll enter the coalition or sit in the opposition together with us,’” he explained. “It was coming from a place of trying to protect the Torah world.”
“It could be that they will be in [the coalition] and we will be out. It doesn’t matter,” he said, adding, “even though when they went in without us, in the second Sharon government, they hurt both the Torah world and the land of Israel, with the Disengagement.”
Yishai admitted that it has been hard for him to adjust to the three-way leadership deal in Shas, in which he is sharing power with Aryeh Deri and Ariel Attias. “It wasn’t easy on a personal level. Also on a professional level, it was hard to go from a situation of being the sole chairman, who makes decisions alone, to being one of three, where everyone is equal.”
However, he said, he has no doubts about the situation. “I was educated at Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s knee, and this was the rabbi’s decision,” he explained.