Harav Zalman Melamed of Beit El is the latest of numerous prominent Rabbanim in the National Religious sector to come out against the Jewish Home party in light of the government’s anti-Torah agenda.
Harav Melamed, who is the Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivat Beit El, spoke out against what he termed “[Treasury Minister] Lapid’s war on Torah” and the responsibility that Jewish Home bears for the results as a senior coalition partner.
He said that he was not surprised at the reports in the media this week about the harassment of a soldier in a chareidi neighborhood. “It was expected,” he said. “It is the result of Lapid’s war against the Torah.” His words were cited by journalist Uzi Baruch of Arutz 7.
“Unfortunately, Jewish Home, thus far, has not been able to serve as a bridge between the chareidi public and the secular public, and against its will, it also bears responsibility for the rising hatred between different sectors of the public,” Harav Melamed added.
“Increased police patrols in the chareidi neighborhoods will not cause uniformed soldiers to walk around there,” he said.
Regarding the extensive condemnations in the secular media, he said, “Even though they are right, it will do nothing to reduce the increasing hatred and alienation that has resulted from the behavior of Lapid and his party.
“The root cause must be addressed, not the result. The treatment of Torah and its scholars must be changed for the better. The brutal cuts must be annulled. The job of Jewish Home is to work tirelessly to stop the deterioration without compromises. There is no heter to be partners to inciting hatred, even if they think in the end there will be a purpose to it. That’s a mitzvah haba b’aveirah.”
Concurrently, Harav Dov Lior, the Rav of Kiryat Arba and one of the most senior Rabbanim in the National Religious community, summoned four Jewish Home members and harshly criticized the party’s leader, Naftali Bennett.
The four MKs are affiliated with Tekumah, one of the two parties that comprise Jewish Home. (The other is the National Religious Party, known as the Mafdal.) Harav Lior is considered the leader of Tekumah, and he supported the pact between Bennett and Lapid upon the formation of the government.
However, he lambasted Bennett for meeting last week with the heads of the Conservative movement in Israel and welcoming them warmly. Bennett said after the meeting that the Conservatives are “an equal among equals in Judaism” and that he represents them as well in his capacity as Religious Affairs Minister.
According to a report in Maariv, Harav Lior summoned the four MKs of the Tekumah party, Housing Minister Uri Ariel, Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Eli Ben Dahan, MK Zevulun Kalfa and MK Orit Struk, along with several other Rabbanim. He expressed his anger that Jewish Home was not maintaining a religious character and was not acting in accordance with rabbinical guidance.
Harav Lior said at the meeting that he had criticism for the way Jewish Home was conducting itself, including the financial cuts to the yeshivah world, but what upset him most Bennett’s meeting with the Conservatives. “How can such a thing happen davka when we are in the coalition?” the Rav asked pointedly.
The Rav told the MKs that the Conservative movement causes extensive damage to the Jewish world both in Israel and in the Diaspora, and it is inconceivable that Jewish Home should be a party to the statement that they are equal in the Jewish world.
“Things are being done in Torah-related areas with no consultation with the Rabbanim and in direct contravention to their opinions. It is clear that what Bennett said is not the opinion of the faction or of most of its MKs,” the Rav said. He then asked the MKs to ensure that such a thing does not happen again.
Hamodia’s reporter adds that Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett does not seem inclined to heed the Rabbanim’s call. His spokesman defiantly said that “he respects the right of Harav Lior to express his opinion.”
He continues, with his “brother” Lapid, to lead the hostility and incitement. However, more and more Torah-observant Jews who voted for Jewish Home realize that they bear responsibility for the dismal results brought about by party representatives.
While the party’s leadership may seem impervious to these calls, four Jewish Home MKs threatened on Thursday to vote against the budget legislation should cuts to yeshivos not be rescinded.
MKs Zevulun Kalfa, Orit Struk, Yoni Shetbon, and Motty Yogev claim that the budget laws passed in first readings will impose cuts of more than NIS 400 million to yeshivos in 2014, or 53% of the overall budget. The reason for their objection is that the Hesder yeshivos and other National Religious yeshivos will be severely affected by these cuts.
MK Kalfa, who sits on the Knesset Finance Committee, threatened to vote against the laws in the committee as well, not only in the Knesset, if these clauses are not rectified.
“The finance minister promised me in personal conversations several times that he is watching over the Torah world. This promise is not manifested in the current budget laws being presented,” Kalfa said. “I will not support the laws if they are not rectified immediately.”
It should be noted that if the four MKs act on their threats, the party can impose parliamentary sanctions on them.