In the wake of revelations that Avigdor Liberman personally handled exemptions for army service for numerous individuals in the chareidi community, MKs accused the Yisrael Beytenu head for running an election campaign that was not only hateful, but hypocritical. Speaking to Kol Baramah radio, Shas MK Rabbi Moshe Aboutbul said that “when it benefited Liberman, he was able to work with the chareidim, he would even wear a kippah and a shtreimel to get what he wanted. Today, when he is no longer relevant, he is trying to make himself so by playing the ‘chareidi card.’”
Haaretz on Monday published documentation that showed that, as defense minister, Liberman personally arranged for exemptions on behalf of individuals in the chareidi community. Requests for exemptions were channeled to his office from various sources, and he personally tended to the arrangements. The number of exemptions granted were in the hundreds, the report said.
In response, Liberman’s office denied having anything to do with granting exemptions. “Such requests, whether proffered by members of the chareidi community or by members of other communities, are handled by army professionals without input from the defense minister.” The IDF Spokesperson said that the army “will investigate the issues raised in the article, and present the results to the chief of staff. Lessons will be learned, and disciplinary steps will be taken against those involved.”
Whether the revelations will restrain Liberman from his nonstop campaign against chareidim remains to be seen. Speaking to Kol Chai, United Torah Judaism MK Rabbi Yaakov Asher said that there was nothing wrong with seeking exemption from army service, and it was common among many groups in Israeli society. Despite Liberman’s actions as defense minister, “during the past two elections the chareidim have been the whipping boy for Liberman. It’s gone too far – you ask him about the security situation, he answers with stories about chareidim, you ask him about peace, he talks about chareidim, you ask him about the economy he talks about chareidim. The public needs to make a decision about voting for this man.”
Shas MK Rabbi Yaakov Margi told Army Radio that “it’s interesting to see how the same Liberman who declared he would never join a government with chareidim because of the Draft Law acted when he was defense minister. In the past, Shas worked very well with Yisrael Beytenu MKs,” he added.