Yoni Chetboun .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
MK Yoni Chetboun of the hybrid haredi/hard-line national-religious Yahad party conducted a whistle stop tour of several yeshivas from both communities promoting the idea of Jewish unity while plugging the credentials of his new party.
Among his stops were the haredi Kiseh Rahamim yeshiva in Bnei Brak, whose dean Rabbi Meir Mazuz is Yahad’s spiritual guide, the national- religious Yeshivat Hesder Ramat Gan and the Hesder yeshiva in the settlement of Karnei Shomron.
“It is written in Megilat Esther that there was Jewish man was in the Persian capital Shushan,” observed Chetboun in reference to Mordechai in the Book of Esther.
“A Jewish man, not a rabbi, not a haredi, not [someone with] a knitted yarmulke or with a yarmulke in his pocket, but simply ‘a Jewish man,’” he continued. “This is the message of Purim and this is the message of Yahad,” he averred.
But Chetboun noted that the Book of Esther also described Mordechai as from the tribe of Benjamin, but using the term “yemini,” which in modern Hebrew would mean right-wing, as Yahad is.
The party, which united with the Kahanist, hard-right Otzma Yehudit faction for the election, has adopted uncompromising positions against any possible accommodation with the Palestinians, and opposes reforms to the provision of religious services and the place of Judaism in public life in general.
Chetboun said earlier this week that the Jewish identity of the state was “traded away over the last two years” in an “attack of anti-religious” legislation, in reference to several laws that were passed or proposed to liberalize religious life and the centralized control of the Chief Rabbinate.
Despite Chetboun’s claim, many of the proposed laws were stymied by conservative elements in Bayit Yehudi, from where Chetboun came, or by the Likud party fearful for the prospects of an alliance with the haredi political factions.
Chetboun said, however, that Yahad would seek to prevent a recurrence of the alliance between Bayit Yehudi and Yesh Atid that was formed at the beginning of the outgoing government, although the now badly damaged relationship between the two parties makes it unlikely that a reformation of this alliance will happen.
Yesh Atid MKs Aliza Lavie and Shai Piron, along with MK Elazar Stern, formerly of Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua party but with Yesh Atid, were behind much of the legislation seeking to reform religious life in the country to which Chetboun and Yahad object.
“Today it is ever clearer that we need a complementary force that will protect and balance the coalition in its relationship to matters of religion and state. We will be that force... and will prevent an alliance between Bayit Yehudi and Yesh Atid,” he said.