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Video: Yair Lapid Spars with Ultra-Orthodox

In tense Knesset debate, Yesh Atid head critiques Haredi society and defends using Facebook on Shabbat

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This past week, Yair Lapid delivered his first speech as Finance Minister of the new Israeli government. In most countries, this might not sound like edge-of-your-seat material. But Israel is not most countries. What began as an effort by Lapid to explain his austerity budget quickly devolved into a shouting match with the Knesset’s ultra-Orthodox (or Haredi) members, who accused Lapid of unfairly targeting their community with his cuts.

As currently drafted, Lapid’s budget slashes government subsidies in half for religious schools that do not teach a core curriculum of science, math and English—a move designed to encourage ultra-Orthodox institutions to offer those subjects. At the same time, Lapid’s Yesh Atid party is spearheading a Knesset committee which proposes ending most military service exemptions for the ultra-Orthodox, as well as cutting 30% of funding for their seminaries.

“No one hates you,” Lapid insisted, over repeated interruptions from members of the Knesset’s ultra-Orthodox parties. “The only thing that happened … is that you are not in the coalition. This is called democracy.”

Despite such protestations of goodwill, sharp fault-lines between the secular Lapid and his Haredi interlocutors were apparent. When one lawmaker baldly accused Lapid of attempting to starve ultra-Orthodox children by cutting subsidies to large Haredi families, he responded sharply: “The entity that is responsible for supporting children is their parents,” an implicit indictment of the many ultra-Orthodox families currently living off government handouts, while one or both parents remain unemployed.

“To bring a child into this world is a weighty responsibility,” Lapid continued pointedly, “and you must not have children on the assumption that other people will support them, but rather on the assumption that you must support your own children.”

Haredi lawmakers also harangued Lapid over his use of Facebook on Shabbat, a period when even non-religious Knesset members typically refrain from posting. Lapid bristled and shot back, “I post news on Shabbat because I don’t keep Shabbat. I don’t tell you what to do on Shabbat, you don’t tell me what to do on Shabbat.” When MK Moshe Gafni refused to drop the subject, the Knesset meeting chair Meir Shitreet cut him off with the wry riposte, “MK Gafni, I am sure that you don’t use the internet!” To which Lapid added, “Heaven forbid.”

Watch the key moments of Lapid’s back-and-forth below; we’ve added English subtitles (click ‘CC’ if not enabled):

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ginzy1 says:

I agree with Lapid’s view that the Hareidi world has to change, but his tactics and pontifications are counterproductive and will ultimately backfire. Which may be what he **REALLY** wants.

BTW, he is also exhibiting not a little hypocrisy. His IDF service consisted on serving as a reporter for the IDF magazine BaHaHaNeh. Also I believe he himself lacks a Te’UDaT BaGRut, i.e., a matriculation certificate (high school diploma). In short,, Lapid could standing following his own advice.


J’lem / Efrata

    Ian Thal says:

    Most Israelis do not serve in combat positions during their IDF service, so I am not sure that stating that he served as a journalist is much of a criticism; the point is that he served his country in the manner that was demanded of him instead of avoiding service.

Poupic says:

Good for Lapid! He speaks not a moment too soon.

Noahson says:

I don’t understand. Only Hebrew subtitles appear on my screen. How do you get the English?

We could do with this guy in the UK!

David Sher says:

Lapid is winning this debate in the mind of the public. The Haredim are going through the five stages of grief. Ultimately they will reach acceptance.

moish says:

the chairman of the session was meir sheetrit and not yuli edelstein, as stated

First I agree with Hugo Cavendish, apart from the UK the Republic of Ireland need a man like Lapid.

It is not cost effective for Israel to provide welfare support to healthy fit and smart men between 18 and 65 to analyze Torah, update etc etc. Israel is a nation of the 21st century, her progress in 65 years has been meteoric. The population is growing which it needs to do. Infrastructure is ever in progress, as is technological advances above all Israel has on her doorstep an undeclared war from the Arab community all over the middle east. Israel must under all circumstances have a defense budget, the funds come from taxes. With a large % of the male population not contributing to the tax revenues but draining them for welfare, in a modern state this is unrealistic. I can’t criticize Mr. Lapid’s method of approach, he must have his reasons. When MT crushed the Unions in the UK there was total uproar, there are those today who still whinge – her policies were necessary, just as Mr. Lapid has to drag part of Israel’s community into the 21st Century..

hekesq says:

Israel started out as a secular Jewish state but has been co-opted by the ultra Orthodox who wield enormous power considering their actual numbers. Good for Lapid for standing up to them.

Minniehaha says:

Finally, someone telling the Haredi off. How refreshing!

cipher says:

“No one hates you,” Lapid insisted, over repeated interruptions from members of the Knesset’s ultra-Orthodox parties. “The only thing that happened … is that you are not in the coalition. This is called democracy.”

Well, he lost them right there.

Of course, I agree with the other commenters (and most of the Israeli populace) – good for him.

YESH Atid Yesh Lapid! If I lived in Israel I’d vote for you! Speak the truth brother!

brynababy says:

He is fabulous!! He could yet be the saving of Israel in accomplishing two states. living side by side.

Tzvi says:

Speaking as an ultra orthodox Jew that lives in NYC, works full time, and studies the Torah an hour each day.People have to understand the problem is not that they do not want work. the problem is they are not allowed to work as long as you do not serve in the military.and since we do not serve No serves =No work
Now on to my point

The military is the worst place for an ultra orthodox Jew period (not debatable)
Exempt us from service we will be the first to work and sustain are self we are not stupid contrary to what you may think many of us have really sharp minds from studying so much the Talmud, just come to NYC and see for yourself walk in to BH Photo in Manhattan or Adrama cameras Both are owned and populated by Ultra Ultra Orthodox with employees numbering in the thousands again all ultra orthodox

Sorry for any mistakes in spelling or grammar

    Another Tzvi says:


    Please explain to this Orthodox Jew who served in the army and whose son is now in hesder, why an army where over 35% of the officers are Orthodox is the “worst place for an ultra orthodox Jew period” and why this is not debatable.

      I have no explanation. As i said its not debatable
      But since you asked so nicely I will explain(LOL). what you are referring to is mizrachi to my understanding they have the highest percentage rate of serving men in the military (Unlike the liberal left whom try to avoid military service just as much as us) and the reason is Because those are there values that’s what they believe in that is their upbringing that’s what strengthens them.
      Unlike by us its not are values, its not what we believe in,and it will bring us down, it will weaken us,

        Another Tzvi says:

        Tzvi – Thank you for your polite response. You didn’t really answer the question though.

        If chareidim can get away with not serving in the army because it is against their values, then the secular majority can get away with not providing funding to chareidim because it is against their values to fund freeloaders.

        Anyway, “Mai chazis d’damech samek tfei” is a very Jewish value from the time of the Gemara.

          Tzvi says:

          Look do you understand that its almost impossible for a family of 7 in Israel to support itself, tax is through the roof, they are not allowed in to the secular work force. They have 1 option to live off the government. lower taxes, make it possible to make 100k a year, move from a socialist economy to more a capitalist economy, and we will do just fine. And besides why does lapid not go yell at the Arabs they don’t serve they take way more money then we do

    Daniel Rubin says:


    You are partially right. This is a quintessentially Israeli issue in which both sides are wrong. If there wasn’t an ingrained “freyer” mentality in Israeli culture, it would have occurred to the secular Israeli public long ago to cut its losses and let the Charedim get to work, never mind the army.

    However, do not fool yourself into thinking that the Gedolim in Israel do not prefer the situation the way it is. They WANT the Charedi public to be unable to work. They know perfectly well how many Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn work and that is precisely what they want to avoid.

    So yes, if the Charedim could just be exempt from the military and allowed to work, many would take that offer. But they don’t have anyone advocating for that on their behalf. (And, as I said, no one on the other side of the debate is coming up with that idea either.)

    MacTurk says:

    Why should anyone else be expected to put their lives on the line to defend your ignorant arrogance?

    Why will you not serve?

    Why must less moral and less religious folk have to bear the burden of defending you and your condescending fellows, who despise the very institution which guarantees their right to life?

Good for Lapid, indeed! The Haredi have had special privileges for entirely too long, and it’s more than time they realized that they’re not automatically superior to any other Israelis.

MacTurk says:

Truly ignorant people, disrespectful of parliamentary proceedure.

They are parasitical on the state, its defence forces, and its economy.


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Video: Yair Lapid Spars with Ultra-Orthodox

In tense Knesset debate, Yesh Atid head critiques Haredi society and defends using Facebook on Shabbat

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