Above: Rabbi Moshe Gafni
Haredi Politician Picks Fight With Zionist Orthodox, Sparking Major Coalition Row
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The Chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee Rabbi Moshe Gafni of the Ashkenazi haredi United Torah Judaism Party (UTJ) yanked several Settlement Division of the World Zionist Organization budget items off the committees voting schedule Tuesday sparking a row with Zionist Orthodox MKs, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Gafni claims Zionist Orthodox yeshivas get more funding than haredi yeshivas, and demanded that be changed before the yanked items are reinstated for a vote. Gafni also demanded that haredi West Bank settlements get funding from the Settlement Division and demanded that Bennett change the criteria used to allocate stipends to foreign yeshiva students studying in Israel. As it now stands, foreign haredi yeshiva students must take part in mandatory activities that include visiting an army base, the Kotel (Western Wall), and Yad Vashem (Israel’s national Holocaust memorial and museum). The two haredi parties in the governing coalition, UTJ and Shas, want the requirement to participate in those visits ended.
Almost 40% of all West Bank Jewish settlers are haredi.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked for a meeting to be held between Gafni, the Zionist Orthodox HaBayit HaYehudi Party’s Chairman Naftali Bennett (who is also Israel’s Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister), and Sefardi haredi Shas Party Chairman Aryeh Deri (who is also Israel’s Minister of the Development of the Negev and Galilee).
Bennett reportedly refused to attend, however, because of his objection to Gafni’s thuggish behavior.
“There is equality [in yeshiva funding] and I’m taking care of everyone,” Bennett reportedly said in an interview with the haredi Radio Kol Barama. “He’s making a big mistake with his behavior. I don’t understand why there’s a need for a fight and to blame settlements and the Zionist Orthodox [sector] for everything. Do I attack haredim? We don’t need to fight with each other. I prefer to work with people of peace who are looking for the path of peace and aren’t looking for a fight.”
A spokesman for Gafni responded to Bennett’s comments by lashing out at Bennett on Twitter. He claimed Bennett has not visited even one haredi school since becoming education minister. “It seems that those who claim the man simply hates haredim are correct,” the Gafni spokesman concluded.