In a Knesset discussion Monday, Education Minister Naftali Bennett slammed Yesh Atid MK Alizah Lavie for the negative attitude of her party head Yair Lapid toward chareidim. “You consider them second class citizens,” Bennett told Lavie. “Why didn’t Lapid want to let a six year old chareidi child go to summer camp – because his school doesn’t teach core curriculum courses? What is the connection between the two?”
The discussion came in the context of a question and answer session in the Knesset Monday evening, in which ministers entertained “surprise” questions by MKs. The Q&A is the substitute for the previous practice of holding no-confidence votes on Mondays. The votes have always failed in the past, and with the addition of Yisrael Beytenu to the coalition, they are even less likely to succeed now – hence the change.
The attack by Bennett came in the context of a question by Lavie on the Education Minister’s position on requiring chareidi institutions to teach courses in math, science and English, and Bennett’s unwillingness to force the matter. In response, Bennett said that Yesh Atid had no problem picking on chareidim, but left other groups, like Arabs, alone. “Face it, Yesh Atid is an anti-chareidi party,” said Bennett. “You and your group should be ashamed of yourselves. You have destroyed generations and caused a great amount of damage. You stood in the way of funding for chareidi kindergartens when you were Finance Minister – why? Because they look different?”
Yesh Atid MK Yael German took offense at Bennett’s comments, calling them “incitement. You make it sound like we are against the chareidim. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are looking out for their future.”
Bennett responded to her comments by saying that he disagreed with her. “The question to Yair Lapid was why he was opposed to letting chareidi children go to day camp. There is no answer for that. It’s a terrible policy.”
As far as the core curriculum was concerned, Bennett said that he was working on it in a preferred manner. “There is a consensual process, and there is a bulldozer process. The latter is not the way I do things. Here is a secret – before there was a Yesh Atid there was more interest in chareidi schools in learning basic skills. When you came around there was a sudden resistance. You like being tough on chareidim, and all you are looking for is populist headlines.”