Daily Israel Report

Bennett: Lapid Should Respect, Not Insult, Chief Rabbis

Jewish Home party head Naftali Bennett says comments by Finance Minister Yair Lapid about Israel's Chief Rabbis were unacceptable.
By David Lev
First Publish: 1/13/2014, 5:37 PM

Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett
Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett
Flash 90

Jewish Home party head Naftali Bennett said Monday that comments by Finance Minister Yair Lapid about Israel's Chief Rabbis were unacceptable. While he did not necessarily agree with the Rabbis that girls should under no circumstances do IDF service, the way Lapid attacked the them for saying so could not be allowed to pass without criticism, he said.

“I believe that all girls should do either IDF service or National Service,” said Bennett. “With that, the attack on the Rabbis for their traditional position is an unacceptable attack on the respect due them,” he said.

On Friday, Lapid condemned Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi David Lau and Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef  on his Facebook page for campaigning against IDF service for girls. The official position of the Rabbinate since the establishment of the state is that girls who wish to serve the state should undertake National Service, and not enlist in the IDF.

Lapid, taking exception, huffed at the Rabbis, saying that they were guilty of “arrogance, and have created a national scandal. We will act in the Knesset to have them fired, and attack them through the legal system if necessary.” As “state employees,” said Lapid, the Rabbis had no right to encourage girls not to serve in the army.

But Bennett said that the Rabbis had a right to say what they did. “Those who want to can listen to them, and those who do not want to don't. But threatening to fire them is unacceptable.

“I, as Religious Affairs Minister, intend to deal with this issue. I will not allow Israel's political to include 'executions' for those who speak their minds,” he added.

In a letter to Lapid, MK Yoni Chetboun on Monday slammed him for the comments, saying they “were very unworthy for a leader of Israel. It is shocking that you would demean the honor of the Torah in this way. I demand that you apologize for these remarks.

“Israel is not Germany or France,” added Chetboun. “Israel is a Jewish state. The Chief Rabbis are not 'state employees,' but leaders of large groups and authorities on Jewish law. They will not be treated as mere 'employees' in the Jewish state.”