Daily Israel Report

Hareidi MKs: We're Now on the Left

In an interview, MK Moshe Gafni said that hareidi parties were now allying themselves with the left, permanently
By David Lev
First Publish: 3/7/2013, 3:20 PM

MK Moshe Gafni
MK Moshe Gafni
Israel news photo: Flash 90

In an interview with the daily Yisrael Hayom newspaper Thursday, MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Jewry), Chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, said that his party was switching allegiances. “Until now we agreed to joining together only with right wing parties, but that is over. Now we will be working with Shelly Yechimovich.”

Gafni said that, in his opinion, UTJ – and the hareidi community – was in a sense more comfortable with the center-left views of Yechimovich's Labor Party than with the right wing views of many Likud MKs. “To tell the truth, we are much closer in our views to Yechimovich than to Orit Strook of Bayit Yehudi.” Yedhimovich is pushing a social welfare program that calls for more government involvement.

In the past, Labor has traditionally advocated for major territorial withdrawals from Judea and Samaria, but UTJ has always opposed them as did national-religious parties, while both hareidi and national religious parties supported the continuation of yeshiva students' army exemptions - the latter group applying more stringent conditions to the exemption of its fulltime students, who are much less in number.

The report also quoted former Shas MK Shlomo Benizri as saying that Bayit Yehudi's insistence on maintaining its pact with Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid was causing a major loss in support for the right among the hareidi community. “They are simply pushing the hareidim into the arms of the left,” Benizri said, according to the report. “I hope that the National-Religious community understands the implications of what they are doing now.”

Many feel that Bayit Yehudi's pact is tactical, but Bennett has come under criticism in the national religious camp as well.

Listeners to hareidi radio stations in Israel in recent days have commented on the harsh attitudes displayed towards the  religious Zionist community in the wake of the coalition negotiations. Listeners and some of the hareidi community's leaders have discussed a range of actions the hareidi community should take because of what they called Bennett's “attempts to destroy the Torah world.”  Bennett has aired a video where he promises not to allow coercion on the issue of hareidi draft - and religious Zionist mainstream rabbis have met with him to ensure that he knows that they feel the same way, but that has not affected the broadcasts.

One speaker on Kol Berama, a hareidi-oriented radio station that is considered close to Shas, said that “now, at the last minute, before the closing of the issue, the national-religious community must consider what it is doing, before their rabbis go down in history as destroyers of the Torah.” Other speakers, showing their anxiety about Lapid's demands, have even advocated a boycott of goods from Judea and Samaria, and quoted critical comments from rabbinical leaders of the past century against the Mizrachi and National Religious movement.