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Video: Lapid to Haredim: “We Need You”

Yair Lapid appeals to Israel’s ultra-Orthodox, says he does not seek to destroy their way of life, but rather to include them in the state’s defense.

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Tommy Lapid, the father of Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid, was infamous for his anti-religious rhetoric. He reserved his harshest invective for Israel’s ultra-Orthodox, whom he regularly dubbed “parasites,” “barbaric primitives,” “idle fanatics” and “enemies of progress” for taking state subsidies to study Torah while being exempt from military service. Indeed, Lapid the elder built an entire short-lived political party—Shinui (Change)—around the idea of bringing the country’s Haredim to heel. So when Yair Lapid entered the political arena, many suspected a similarly strident secularism would animate his campaign, whether explicitly or implicitly. And to a certain extent, this presumption was correct. Lapid’s new budget slashes Haredi subsidies; his party has proposed abolishing most Haredi army exemptions; and Lapid himself has gleefully sparred with ultra-Orthodox lawmakers in the Knesset to defend these stances.

But Yair Lapid is not his father. Where Tommy reveled in lambasting his ultra-Orthodox antagonists, Lapid has repeatedly reached out to them, even as there is little political advantage in doing so, given Lapid’s largely secular base and general anti-Haredi sentiment rife in Israeli society. The Yesh Atid leader’s latest outreach effort came at a press conference on Wednesday, where he addressed his words directly to the ultra-Orthodox over the heads of their leadership, which has accused Lapid of seeking to destroy the Haredi way of life.

“What is actually happening is not what they are telling you,” Lapid said. “What is really happening is not an attack on the world of Torah. What is really happening is not an attempt to topple the foundations of your world. Not one of us wishes, heaven forfend, to force hiloniyut (secularism) on you or to impose our version of Israeli identity. This state was established so that Jews could be Jews, and live as Jews, without having to fear anyone.”

“What is really happening is that it is impossible to continue like this. When the exemptions and subsidies for Torah learners were established in 1948, they encompassed 400 yeshiva students from the entire Israeli population. Today, the Haredi community numbers 800,000 people. Every third child in the country learns in a Haredi school. 10% of every army recruitment class consists of Haredim who will not enlist. And when these are the numbers, we cannot continue this way. Such a large population cannot stand on the sidelines and tell itself that the state is not its problem.”

In contrast to his father’s us-versus-them mentality, Lapid emphasized the shared fate of Haredim and non-Haredim. “If Iran develops a nuclear bomb, this is also happening to you,” he said. “If tomorrow, God forbid, a third intifada should break out, and there are waves of terror as there were in the past, this is also happening to you, and you know as well as I do that the terrorists do not distinguish between us.”

“This is also happening to you, and we need you.”

Watch an extended excerpt of Lapid’s entreaty below, with our English subtitles (click “CC” if not enabled):

Read the full speech in Hebrew here.

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Moshe says:

Excellent monipulator. He knows very well that the Hareidi community is the smallest burden on the budget, takes a fraction of say the arts, sports, arab universiries, leftist Kibbutzim losses, cost of violance, drugs etc. etc. etc. while they pay in taxes above avrage (based on the recio of hareidi rich element).

He also knows very well that the IDF doesn’t need them to be recruted. as all the exports say.

And to talk about readjustments to the exemptions of Yeshiva students, at that time they said you cannot join the proffesional work force with Yeshiva credits, as you can do in the US, and that he’s not changing…

    cipher says:

    He knows very well that the Hareidi community is the smallest burden on the budget

    To the contrary, the money spent on providing food, shelter and social services to Haredim has become a large part of the budget, and promises to become even larger as a result of their refusal to rein in their rate of reproduction coupled with their refusal to educate their children in a manner that would allow them to compete outside of their cloistered world.

    Israeli economists are now predicting national bankruptcy within a generation if they don’t get the Haredim off the social service rolls. Of course, none of those economists is a Haredi rov – and worse, they’ve all been to university – so I realize their word can’t be trusted.

      brynababy says:

      Excellent retort!!!

        m tannenbaum says:

        Iam not a charedi and I do want to see charedim integrated into Israeli society.
        Lapid’s colossal failure conclusively demonstrates what a political novice he is. The past decade has seen a steady rise in charedim joining the military and institutions of higher secular education. The rise has been gradual yet steady and expanding. Lapid has destroyed these quiet yet significant gains by compounding blunder upon blunder.
        First he condescendingly declared that there must be “equal sharing of the burden”. Implying that the charedi world’s pursuit of Judaic studies and rigorously Jewish lifestyle are unimportant and not part of “the burden”. How will he feel when the forthcoming supposed charedi majority in Israel demands that every young man equally “share the burden” and requires every secular Israeli to join a yeshiva for 3 years?
        By approaching the charedi leaders quietly and behind closed doors to try to find out what their real fears of having their youngsters join the military are, he would be able to present a viable plan which the charedi world could stomach. For example, calling the need to draft charedim as a vital pikuach nefesh situation would be far more effective than the “sharing the burden” approach. The Roshei Yeshivas would have a much easier time selling this to their constituency. He would be wise to attempt to curtail the length of compulsory service, add more money to yeshivas that play ball, come down hard on secular draft dodgers (35%- by most estimates), attempt to move the army to a mainly reserve army (it’s a small enough country, nowadays it doesn’t take very long to arrive at a conflict scene), establish Hesder type charedi yeshivas and much, much more.
        Second, he outrageously insists that those that do not enlist will be viewed as criminal offenders. WHAT?! Are you kidding? This is Csarist Russia stuff! How terrific will all the Lapid fans feel when footage of Jews pursuing, handcuffing and jailing jewish teenagers for avoiding conscription? And what do you think these boys will do in jail? They’ll simply sit and learn like they always have done only with a much greater financial burden on the State. Furthermore, what will the already overloaded Israeli courts look like when they have literally thousands of new cases to adjudicate? What hope does the country have when their economic future is unable to receive higher education or get jobs due to criminal records? What hope does the country have when the hatred is so intense and the schism so wide between brothers?

        Oh, and the ridiculous claim that the charedim are sucking the treasury dry is complete nonsense. They account for barely 3/4 of 1% of the state’s budget. Also, the shocking vitriol spewed forth by the first respondent to this article about the high reproductive rates of charedim is truly asinine. If it weren’t for the high birth rate by the charedim, Jews in Israel would probably be close to being a minority. Furthermore does anyone remember our national duty to repopulate following the holocaust better than the charedim?

        Finally how can anyone think his intentions are pure and not intended to undermine Torah study when he has attacked the National Religious world with equal fervor? This group dutifully does their military service (the army regards them as their best combat troops) and also pursues university degrees! Why slash by 50% the state funding for Zionist, Hesder yeshivas if every other item in the government’s budget is only sustaining a 3% reduction? Why did he make every attempt to literally shelve the wildly successful (at least according to top military officials) Hesder yeshiva program?

        The answers to the above questions are obvious: Lapid is an inexperienced political lightweight not unlike President Obama. They are both ideologues with Lapid possessing a complete disdain and a second grader’s understanding of Judaism. The difference being that Obama and his considerable charm can appeal to a massive African-American population (95%!! voted for him) that understandably regard him as a folk hero despite the long term, and possibly permanent damage, he is inflicting on the united States. Lapid just has the same shallow, angry, constituency that his father had–without the charm.
        Just as Obama did on his visit to Israel when he bypassed the Knesset and actually delivered his address in a concert hall (thereby bypassing Israel’s democratically elected parliamentary body), Lapid has repeatedly shown his weak grasp of the charedi world by attempting to bypass the charedi leadership and reach the yeshiva student directly. I also think that he doesn’t quite grasp what it means that he is the Finance Minister for the entire Israel and not just for his constituency. Nor does he begin to understand what it means ” a Jewish state”. It means a lot more than a place where a lot of Jews happen to live–for that we have Florida!
        Let me close with pointing out that my family all do university studies as well as military and civil service yet I am appalled by the embarrassing manner with which my finance minister has handled most every situation (there are plenty of others) since his election.


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Video: Lapid to Haredim: “We Need You”

Yair Lapid appeals to Israel’s ultra-Orthodox, says he does not seek to destroy their way of life, but rather to include them in the state’s defense.

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