Rabbi Avihai Rontski, a close ally of Economy Minister and Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett, said on Sunday that Bayit Yehudi had more in common with Yesh Atid than with haredi (ultra-Orthodox) political parties.
Writing on his Facebook page, Rontski, who formerly served as IDF chief rabbi, underlined the importance for Bayit Yehudi to appeal to the broader Israeli public while drawing distinctions between his party and haredi political factions.
“There is a broader common denominator between the two movements [Bayit Yehudi and Yesh Atid] than there is with the haredi parties,” wrote Rontski, who is also close to the party’s Knesset faction chairwoman, MK Ayelet Shaked. “It appears that the only issue for these [haredi] parties is their private [communal] benefit, while the good of the state is far from them.”
Rontski’s comments about the haredi political parties drew a contrast with what he said were the principles of Bayit Yehudi.
“It is our ambition to be a movement that leads the Jewish people, God willing, and we are therefore obligated to take positions and pathways that connect us to the general public, as well as to those who want a Jewish state that rests on the foundations of tradition, and who are loyal to the partnership in building all of its elements – economic, security and political,” the rabbi wrote.
Relations with the haredi parties, United Torah Judaism and Shas, have hit record lows in recent weeks and months, owing to Bayit Yehudi’s support for the haredi conscription law that the Knesset passed two weeks ago.
Several haredi rabbis and politicians have issued fierce denunciations of Bayit Yehudi, and the national-religious movement in general, in the wake of the passage of the law.
One such declaration came from Rabbi David Yosef, son of the late Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and himself a member of the Shas Council of Torah Sages. Following the passage of the conscription law, Yosef described the national-religious movement as “haters of the Torah, our greatest enemies.”
In addition, the haredi media have broadly depicted Bayit Yehudi as having failed to protect the sanctity of Torah study and the religious status quo in Israel, and have been vociferous in their criticism of the national-religious political and rabbinical leadership.
The biggest selling haredi daily, Yated Ne’eman, deeply offended the national- religious community just before the mass haredi prayer and protest rally at the beginning of this month when it accused Rabbi Haim Druckman, one of the preeminent rabbinical leaders of the national-religious movement, of “shameless and unprecedented hypocrisy.”