In response to accusations that hareidi parties were being “boycotted” by the new government, MK Elazar Stern (Hatnu'a) said that it was the hareidim themselves who were the boycotters – of their own rabbis who in the past had approved of programs that would encourage hareidim of draft age to join the army.
In a speech to the Knesset during a session that was set to result in a vote to approve the new government formed by Binyamin Netanyahu, United Torah Jewry MK Ya'akov Litzman railed against the demand by Yesh Atid that the Prime Minister keep hareidi parties out of the government as its price for joining the coalition.
But Stern, former head of educational programs in the IDF and a member of the Religious Zionist community, accused Litzman and UTJ of hypocrisy. “Who invented the term 'boycott' in this context?” he asked when he addressed the Knesset, directing his comments at Litzman.
“I know of numerous rabbis who were boycotted by a large part of the hareidi community,” Stern said. The rabbis, he said, were boycotted and attacked over their support of the Nachal Hareidi IDF program, which provides a “soft landing” for hareidi youth who wish to serve in the IDF, ensuring that they have full access to religious services and are able to serve without compromising their observance.
“They threw rocks at these rabbis and cursed them,” Stern said. “All this for their support of the Nachal Hareidi program.” If UTJ wanted to talk about boycotts, he added, that would be a good place to start.