Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett 370.
(photo credit:Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett said on Monday with regard to the issue of
haredi enlistment in the army that yeshiva students who are studying Torah
should be allowed to continue their studies and not be forced to enlist in
national service programs.
Speaking with haredi station Radio Kol Hai,
Bennett added that his party would “fight against legislation which would
coercively draft” yeshiva students.
“We will be a partner which will
fight for Torah study in Israel, and we will fight against laws that coerce
service,” Bennett said.
“Whoever is learning Torah should continue to
learn Torah, full stop,” he continued.
“This is my stance from the
beginning. Although it’s not always easy to explain this to our secular
brothers, my way is to explain that the Jewish people have existed for thousands
of years in exile because of Torah, and in the State of Israel we need to
The Bayit Yehudi leader did say, however, that there
was a problem with men who do not perform national service but who are not
studying either, and that such people need to be integrated into the work
“I will support someone who is able to get up early in the morning
to learn and sanctify their lives; there is nothing harder than this. Someone
who does not, I expect him to join Israeli society.”
which has focused heavily on the issue of haredi enlistment, condemned Bennett’s
comments, saying that his position “would ensure that there will be no support
for a true equalization in the burden of national service.”
that Bennett has no interest in changing the situation,” a Yisrael Beytenu
Idan Miller, one of the leaders of the Camp Sucker
movement campaigning for haredi enlistment in national service and a candidate
on the The Tzipi Livni party list, also denounced Bennett’s comments, and said
that he was “promoting the shirker ideology of the haredim.”
removed the liberal mask from his face, and anyone who bears the burden of
service in this country has to know that these are Bennett’s positions, and
should therefore discount Bayit Yehudi as an option in the elections,” Miller
During the interview, Bennett took the opportunity to call for the
religious establishment and institutions to be made more accessible and user
friendly to the secular public.
In an apparent nod to the
national-religious rabbinical association Tzohar, Bennett focused on what he
described as the negative experience secular couples have when approaching their
local rabbinates to get married, and said that “greater efforts must be made to
embrace the secular public and explain” Jewish laws and values to
He also criticized the rabbinate as a “machine for dolling out
jobs” and said it was “no surprise that young couples are going to Cyprus to get
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