Eyewitness Report

The chapters of Tehillim, Selichos, Shema Koleinu and Adon Haselichot that resonated through the Knesset halls after midnight on Monday lent an aura of solemnity to a place that usually is used for light political banter.

7 p.m.: The 18 Shas and UTJ MKs left the Knesset plenum when Finance Minister Yair Lapid rose to respond to no- confidence motions in the government. They felt that the night when the yeshivah draft law was going to be passed was too serious a time to spar with the man who gets offended when anyone says he hates the chareidim.

Lapid was supposed to respond to eight no-confidence motions presented by all the opposition factions, but of course, there is only one problem facing Israel: the chareidi sector — that same sector that he doesn’t hate. And therefore, he spent the entire response speech indulging in the polemics of the title of the UTJ no-confidence motion: “The incitement and harassment of the finance minister against the chareidi sector.”

This title got him so riled up that he went into “offense is the best defense” mode and claimed that “whoever accuses another person of incitement and harassment is spreading hatred in Israel.” And as an expert on Torah sources and Kabbalah, he also knows Heavenly calculations and therefore declared, “that anyone who foments hatred in Israel is postponing the arrival of Moshiach…”

If he would have looked at the MKs who did remain in the plenum, he would not have been able to miss the smiles on many of their faces. They apparently did not understand why someone who insists he does not hate the chareidi sector nor is he inciting against them needs to speak about it so much, while ignoring all the other problems that the opposition factions raised in their motions.

The finance minister even went so far as to suggest to the Knesset Chairman to erase the words “incitement and harassment” from UTJ’s motion, which of course, does not exist in the Knesset regulations. But why should that make a difference to him? After all, he doesn’t hate, incite or harass. So how could he agree that those words to remain? But they did, despite his protestations.