"Such a coalition will be made by the middle-class and above, by those who have, by the Tel Aviv state and not by development towns and the slums. These are under [Shas’s] responsibility. We already said we're willing to accept extreme compromises, but not in order to go into government. We have no problem with being in the opposition and we've been there before, but we care for public unity. We care that the major cuts, the equal share of the burden and keeping the Jewish character of the State will be reached by dialogue and not by coercion. I'm afraid our outreached hand is not answered by certain factions."
A Secular Government Will Abandon Israel’s poor, Haredi Leader Claims
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
A coalition government formed without the inclusion of haredi political parties is a coalition government that will not include or represent Israel’s poor, a Sefardi haredi leader claimed earlier today.
"A coalition without haredim is a coalition without the other Israel – it will not be a haredi-free coalition, but a poor-free coalition," Sefardi haredi Shas Party co-head Aryeh Deri said this morning at his party’s convention, Ynet reported.
Haredim, who have made themselves poor by refusing secular education and by insisting on universal full time yeshiva study that continues at least to legal retirement age, are the core of Shas’ voters. This allows Shas to market itself as a party concerned with poverty issues, and to an extent it is. But rap on Shas is that far too many of its anti-poverty initiatives disproportionately benefit the haredi poor while excluding or drastically limiting the benefit to the non-haredi poor.
Another Shas co-head, Interior Minister Eli Yishai announced the convention that Shas is now willing to compromise on the issue of drafing haredim into the military. Haredim have been legally and illegally evading Israel’s military draft for decades. But secular parties that favor drafting haredim did very well in last week’s Knesset elections. Shas did not. For the first time in years, Israel’s potential prime minister won’t necessarily need haredi parties to build his (or her) coalition.
"We'll do everything to find a golden mean to prevent a rift. Nevertheless, we'll not join the coalition for every price. If there's no choice we'll sit in the opposition and do our job from there,” Yishai said.
Deri cautioned against a new secular-only coalition led by current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud-Beiteinu joint list.
"Such a coalition will be made by the middle-class and above, by those who have, by the Tel Aviv state and not by development towns and the slums. These are under [Shas’s] responsibility. We already said we're willing to accept extreme compromises, but not in order to go into government. We have no problem with being in the opposition and we've been there before, but we care for public unity. We care that the major cuts, the equal share of the burden and keeping the Jewish character of the State will be reached by dialogue and not by coercion. I'm afraid our outreached hand is not answered by certain factions," Deri reportedly said. He also rejected the idea of a universal military draft that includes haredim. "Everyone knows it will not bring one person to enlist. A real draft will be made only by consent and everyone knows it."
Yishai also attacked the draft and made it clear that any ‘compromise’ Shas’ would agree to would have to allow haredim to continue full time yeshiva study in perpituity.
"Now they want to ruin everything under pretense of equality. But there was never a danger of a rift in the people like today. Many are waiting to enlist but are not drafted. I suggest no one consider tearing the students away from their Torahs. It will lead to a rift in the nation, Netanyahu said the same,” Yishai claimed.
Shas' third co-head, Ariel Atias said that the new secular-oriented political party Yesh Atid, which won 19 Knesset seats Tuesday, one more than all the haredi parties combined, wants to close down the yeshivas.
“Many feel, and so do I, that maybe the elected prime minister will be [Yesh Atid’s founder and head] Yair Lapid. But they [Yesh Atid] will not bring more haredim to the army. They [just] want to close down the yeshivas [and make haredim work for a living].…We think that those [haredim] who do not study [in yeshiva] should enlist [in the military]. The yeshivas are meant to study Torah and are not a shelter for those who don't study,” Attias insisted.
But those who “don’t study” are not true or full haredim; they occupy a very low place in haredi society and generally can only redeem themselves by becoming very rich and giving lots of charity to haredi rabbis and their institutions. And very few can do that. So the vast majority of haredim opt for full time yeshiva study, often for decades, even though it makes them poor.
Non-haredi Israelis are overwhelming fed up with the high cost of paying the welfare benefits and yeshiva stipends that keep haredi society running, and they want haredim to share the burden of the country’s defense equally.