Regev Responds

Uri Regev's Blog

The MK who sees Israel as an enemy

Yisrael Eichler, returning to the Knesset, lashes out against the state and its institutions. Now’s the time for a government that won’t be dependent on him and his comrades.

UTJ MeetingUTJ Meeting

Who is it who calls the State of Israel “an enemy state,” “an abusive and evil regime,” and “a Hebrew ghetto”? Not Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, nor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, ruler of Iran. It’s the new/old member of Knesset, Yisrael Eichler of the United Torah Judaism party. He calls Israel’s Supreme Court “the refuge of the immoral secular regime,” “a judicial church… bequeathing to the people the laws of Sodom and Gomorrah.” He describes the secular public as “a generation of people resembling human beasts who behave like two-legged animals.” He had an attack of nausea when the pope visited Israel. Eichler attacked President Shimon Peres, who received the pope, thus: “The darkness of the Exile issued from the mouth of the president of the Judenstat.”

Doubtless we will soon hear him preaching from the Knesset podium about ahavat Yisrael and protesting against increasing criticism of the Haredi public. Experience suggests that, while condemning the cutting language sometimes employed for this criticism, he will describe it as “incitement in the Nazi style” and “a blood libel against the Haredim.” All these pronouncements, and many others, no less outrageous, appear in a special Hiddush report on equality, freedom of religion, and “”the MK who sees Israel as an enemy.” We are publishing this report on the occasion of Eichler’s return to the Knesset. Fortunately, we live in a modern democracy that honors the principle of free speech and upholds the importance of a free market of ideas. Only in such a democracy can someone like Eichler so prolifically express his ultra-extremist positions against the state and against democracy.

We must defend Eicheler’s right to curse the courts, the nation’s president, its laws and its educational system, but meanwhile the time has come to usher him and his comrades out of the coalition.

They refuse to expose their children to the core curriculum or to send them to enlist in the army together with all those “human beasts.”

Perhaps one should thank Eichler in that his (re)entry into the Knesset

positions taken by the Haredi leadership become increasingly extreme

exposes to the light of day what the coalition partnership and United Torah Judaism itself generally exert themselves to hide – the hostile stance of UTJ toward the state and toward the government in which UTJ is a partner. This repression, and the coalition’s repeated surrender to the whims of and the extortion by UTJ, have an identical explanation: the regime’s cynicism that views the purchase of Haredi votes as a necessary evil. The truth must be spoken: This opportunistic approach is typical not solely of the present coalition; it has been typical of most Israeli administrations since the government changed hands in 1977.

But the price for buying the government, the cost of the coalition agreements, and the damage they cause to the state and to Israeli society, are always increasing – not only because the Haredi public is growing larger, but also because the appetite of Eichler and his comrades knows no limits. Figures like Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer have repeatedly warned of the danger to the future of the economy and the nation’s security should the Haredi sector continue to dodge the core educational curriculum, army service, and participation in the workforce. Instead of creating real change, however, the coalition institutes reforms that are no more than sleight of hand.

Meanwhile, the positions taken by the Haredi leadership become increasingly extreme. The battles over modesty have reached delusional proportions undreamt of in the past, like separate bus lines and sidewalks, and modesty squads at the Western Wall. If in the past the Haredi party fought against Reform and Conservative conversions, today it is also fighting against conversions by the Chief Rabbinate and the IDF Rabbinate. In every such struggle, UTJ places extremist religious goals ahead of the national interest. It demands relocating an intensive care unit on the front lines in order not to move some bones of dead people. It prefers dividing the nation to converting soldiers.

The time has come to look reality

Bibi and soldiers ready to convert Flash90Bibi and soldiers ready to convert Flash90

in the eye and understand who the government’s partners are. This is a party that does everything possible to undermine the rule of law and the authority of the courts, and sees the laws of the state as evil, as Sodom and Gomorrah. This is a party that tries to thwart any supervision of its educational system, but never ceases to rob the public coffers for the ruinous education it does provide. This is a party that entangles the state in conflicts with a majority of the Jewish people because of an extremist approach to the question of “Who is a Jew?”; it is a party and that bars more than 300,000 members of that people from any possibility of marrying here in Israel.

Undoubtedly, we must protect Eichler’s right to curse the courts, the nation’s president, the heads of the various streams of Judaism and the heads of other religions, the laws of the state and its educational system, and so on and so forth. But meantime, the time has come to show him, and his UTJ comrades in the coalition, the exit. The time has come to set up a new coalition, all of whose members are concerned for the state rather than hostile to the state, a coalition not dependent on the votes of Eichler and company.

Only a civil government of this sort can effect the changes needed to assure the future of Israeli society: To institute pluralism in marriage and in conversion, to stop the funding of education without the core curriculum, to encourage yeshiva students to get jobs and to limit government funding for yeshivas, to make military service mandatory and to safeguard the future of the economy and of the army. Only such a government can lead to the realization of the equality and religious freedom enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. Eichler’s return to the Knesset should be a warning bell for all of us, reminding us just how urgent and how important that goal is.

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