When Members of Knesset vote Wednesday on the question of hareidi army enlistment, the real issue they decide will be a far deeper one, Finance Minister Yair Lapid declared Tuesday.
“What are we voting on tomorrow? Not just hareidi enlistment, or hareidi men joining the workforce. First and foremost, we’re voting on the question of who decides,” Lapid said.
“We’ll vote for the idea that the state has the right, and the obligation, to determine its future, and that it does not need to ask for anybody’s permission,” he continued. “We’ll vote for the fact that we can still be one country, one society, with one founding principle.”
The other choice, he warned, is “a multi-cultural circus where every interest group can come tell us, ‘I’m not playing, your rules don’t apply to me, your principles don’t obligate me, we’re prepared to accept the benefits but we won’t consider taking on the responsibilities.’”
“On the other hand,” he continued, “is the realization that Zionism has returned, and isn’t ashamed of its role as a melting pot equal to the sum of its part, and isn’t ashamed to stand up for its principles… which obligate everyone, even those who don’t like them.”
The idea of “equal burden of service,” in which hareidi men are equally obligated to serve in the IDF, “is not an attack on religion, or on anyone’s lifestyle,” he said, adding, “We don’t want to hurt anyone’s way of life.”
Lapid continued in a more conciliatory tone, saying, “Over the upcoming months and years, hareidi society will realize that we are deeply committed to help them in pursuing education, finding employment, and integrating in Israeli society and the Israeli economy.”
He then went on the attack again, saying, “At the same time, they’ll need to ask themselves what their obligations are. Is it too much to expect that people who live here - people whose lives are protected by IDF soldiers every day, who enjoy state-funded roads, electricity, water, education, and defense – is it too much to expect them to give their part in return?
“No more and no less, just their part, like any other Israeli citizen,” he concluded.