The head of the right wing Zionist Orthodox HaBayit HaYehudi political party Naftali Bennett has again said that any yeshiva student who wants to continue to study full time at the state’s expense should be exempted from the military draft to be able to continue to do so.
Haredim Who Want To Study Instead Of Serve In The Military Should Be Able To Do So, Zionist Orthodox Pol Says
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The head of the right wing Zionist Orthodox HaBayit HaYehudi political party Naftali Bennett has again said that any yeshiva student who wants to continue to study full time at the state’s expense should be exempted from the military draft to be able to continue to do so, Arutz Sheva reports.
Bennett made similar statements in the run-up to the January 22 national elections, even though the a large majority of HaBayit Hayehudi voters oppose haredi draft evasion.
A report by Hiddush, a nonprofit that advocates for religious freedom, found that the average married 28-year-old haredi yeshiva student receives more than $14,000 per year in state subsides, stipends and welfare payments.
In his first policy speech since the national elections, Bennett also said that his party was committed to guaranteeing that there was plenty of government funding for Torah institutions.
“If Torah study is important to the Jewish people, it must be a part of the regular state budget,” Bennet said at an event held for the heads of yeshiva. “Torah study cannot be based on coalition agreements. It must be part of the state budget. The state must decide if Torah study is important or not. If it is important, a regular allocation in the state budget must be made.…I want to say this clearly: We will work on behalf of the entire Torah world, not just that of Zionist Orthodox institutions. We will not allow the Torah world to be damaged.”
Until now, budgets for yeshivas were byproducts of coalition agreements, and of negotiations based on the Special Arrangements Law and attached to the yearly state budget. Bennett wants to make the yeshivas’ funding a line item in the state budget instead.
Bennett has been attacked by haredim over rumors that he had made a deal with Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid Party to make the new law drafting haredi yeshiva students near-universal, with only 400 of the top haredi scholars remaining exempt from military service. Thousands of other haredi would have to serve in the military or in a civil national service option. Haredi leaders strongly oppose this, insisting all haredi yeshiva students must remain exempt from military or national civil service.
Yesh Atid and HaBayit HaYehudi are both expected to join with Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud-Beiteinu Party to form the next government.
Bennett cited three principles he claimed his party would be guided by.
“Torah learning is important to the entire Jewish people, not just the haredim; the haredim are our brothers, not our enemies; and those who are truly learning Torah will continue to learn, while the others will serve the country and join Israeli society,” he said.
Lapid is unwilling to allow thousands of haredim to evade the military draft.
Polls show that Israeli Jews – including HaBayit Hayehudi voters –overwhelmingly want haredim to share the country’s defense burden. Israeli Jews – also including HaBayit Hayehudi voters – also overwhelming want the new government to be formed without any haredi political parties.
[Hat Tip: Burich.]