Carrying the torch
Lapid announces hollow plan to integrate ultra-Orthodox
Yair Lapid proposes a five year exemption of yeshiva students. Hiddush President Uri Regev warns: "This would be the end of the People's army"
Yair Lapid, Credit, Miriam Alaster, Flash 90
Hiddush President, Rabbi Uri Regev, expressed deep concern today regarding Yair Lapid's presentation of his new program for yeshiva students. Lapid, who enjoyed broad popularity as a TV personality, and recently announced he would follow in his father's footsteps in entering politics. Lapid's father, Tommy Lapid, was responsible for the Shinui party which held 15 seats in the Knesset; he was a champion of religious freedoms.
Yair Lapid has too championed the cause of religious freedoms, but Regev views this move as a setback. Lapid's new party, Yesh Atid (There is a Future), announced their plan to deal with ultra-Orthodox army exemption. The plan would officially exempt yeshiva students for five years.
Rabbi Regev respond to Lapid's proposal saying "Although Lapid has good intentions, the program's sweeping five year exemption would mean an end to the People's Army, a treasured ideal of the Israeli people. Ultra-Orthodox political parties could not have asked for a better gift."
Regev noted "Even the program's legality is questionable given that the Tal Law was recently declared to violate legal principles of equality. But even more important, the chance of even one yeshiva student enlisting in the army after a five year exemption is incredibly low. There is no reason there should be a transition period; exemptions for yeshiva students should be limited to a quota immediately, and the Israeli Army should be in control of who they will or will not recruit. This is the only way there will be equality in service."
Shahar Ilan: There is no need for sweeping exemption in order to integrated ultra-Orthodox men into the workforce; if yeshiva subsidies are significantly reduced, there will be no choice but to work for a living.
Vice President of Hiddush, Shahar Ilan, recalls in his blog "Kashrut Supervisor" (Hebrew) that Lapid said "The solution is simple. Everyone must servce." The proposed plan would exempt yeshiva students for five years, and then draft them. But five years in the Israeli political system is an eternity; the norm will become legal exemption.
Ilan reports: Lapid's argument for a five year exemption is to give ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students a way to freely enter the workforce. However, there is no need for sweeping exemption in order to integrated ultra-Orthodox men into the workforce; if yeshiva subsidies are significantly reduced, there will be no choice but to work for a living.
MK Issac Herzog, Minister of Labor, said "Yair Lapid's proposed plan runs completely contrary to the principles laid out by the Supreme Court regarding the Tal Law. He is not in favor of equality and is not leading toward a process of integration, rather the opposite.
MK Rabbi Chaim Amsalem, who retired from Shas and formed a movement called Am Shalem, said "The select few who kill themselves truly studying Torah are the torch-bearers of the Jewish People and should be given thorough and serious study without interruption. For everyone else, we must find the right formula to integrate them into sharing civic burdens and participating in the workforce. This is the desire of most Israelis and a large part of the ultra-Orthodox population.
For Ha'aretz's article in Hebrew, click here