Haredi Political Party Reportedly On Edge Of Split
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The Ashkenazi haredi political party Untied Torah Judaism (UTJ) may be about to break apart, the Jerusalem Post reports.
UTJ is currently made up of two smaller parties or factions: the hasidic Agudath Israel party and the non-hasidic Degel HaTorah party.
But Degel HaTorah is threatening to split apart as followers of the Jerusalem-based Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, unhappy with Auerbach’s failure to gain haredi leadership after the death of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv this summer, registered a new political party last week, Netzach, and vowed to compete with UTJ for the haredi vote unless it gets its way.
So far, it hasn’t.
“We are asking for the rights we have had up until now,” Yishayhu Wein, who is the editor at the new haredi daily newspaper HaPeles, founded by Auerbach’s supporters this after Elyashiv’s death to compete with the Degel HaTorah-controlled daily Yated Ne’eman.
The Netzach faction wants Rabbi Menahem Carmel slotted as the number three Knesset candidate on the Degel HaTorah list.
Degel HaTorah will have none of it because Carmel is loyal to Auerbach.
“Rabbi Elyashiv placed Carmel on the number three spot for Degel Hatorah and it’s not legitimate to change this; it’s a stab in the back for the followers of Rabbi Elyashiv,” Wein told The Jerusalem Post yesterday.
“If we don’t get what we want, then we have no problem running on an alternate [Knesset] list,” Wein said, but added that Netzach’s leaders were open to discussions with Degel HaTorah leaders.
While negotiations have reportedly taken place, Degel HaTorah leaders deny it.
Auerbach is considered to be among the most conservative of Lithuanian haredi rabbis.
Aharon Leib Shteinman, the current haredi leader, is seen as more pragmatic and, in haredi terms, more moderate.
Shteinman’s faction controls both Yated Ne’eman and Degel HaTorah, and is backed by the majority of senior Lithuanian haredi rabbis.
The new Netzach party is not expected to be able to garner enough votes to win a Knesset seat in the upcoming election.
If Netzach does compete for haredi votes it could cost UTJ – and haredim – one Knesset seat, because the Netzach votes pulled from UTJ will be wasted when Netzach fails to meet the votes threshold.
UTJ currently holds five Knesset seats. Three of those seats are held Agudath Israel faction members; two are held by Degel HaTorah faction members.