Bennett to haredim: Do a mitzvah - serve in IDF

In his first speech to the Knesset, Bayit Yehudi asks fellow MKs to be "freiers" to help citizens of Israel.

February 12, 2013 20:46
2 minute read.
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett

Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)


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It’s possible to study Torah and fight on the battlefield, Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett said in his first speech to the Knesset Tuesday, matching messages with his partner in coalition talks, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid.

Bennett focused on haredi (ultra-Orthodox) enlistment and education, two of the topics on which his party has coordinated with Yesh Atid in coalition negotiations.

Opening his speech by calling his fellow MKs his brothers and sisters – terminology frequently used in his party’s campaign – Bennett asked them to join him in being “freiers,” a slang term for “suckers,” or as he translated it, “someone who helps others and doesn’t get anything in return.”

“My parents came [from America to Israel] to be freiers.

Our parents educated us to be freiers and do the right thing even if we have to pay a price.

Let’s be freiers for the citizens of Israel,” he said.

The Bayit Yehudi chairman called for MKs to be unafraid of paying a political price, for example, in breaking monopolies’ and unions’ stranglehold on the market, which he said would be possible if parties worked together.

He also condemned schools that “spoil” students, calling for values-driven education, and said religious services in the country had turned into a “job-providing machine” instead of showing “the beauty of Judaism to all of Israel.”

“Torah study is not the interest of haredim, but is of interest to all of us; it is what helped us survive for 2,000 years in exile,” Bennett said. “The haredim are our brothers, but this situation cannot continue.

Even you, my haredi brothers, know not everyone learns Torah.”

Using a military metaphor, he said that “the national stretcher is going to fall” if the haredim did not help carry the burden.

“My haredi brothers – serving in the army is a mitzva, too,” he said. “I served with dear brothers who knew to carry a stretcher and learn Torah, charge into a battlefield and open a page of Talmud.”

As for diplomatic issues, he said that although he lived in Ra’anana, he felt safe knowing his brothers were protecting him from the hilltops of Judea and Samaria.

“There is no room in this small and lovely land God gave us for another country; it won’t happen,” he said.

“Friends, before we debate territory, we have to say: The Land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel. Now, lets argue.”

Fellow Bayit Yehudi MK Uri Orbach spoke afterward, congratulating his party leader on becoming a member of Knesset.

Orbach compared Bennett to Prince Charming kissing Sleeping Beauty – otherwise known as religious Zionism – and waking her up.

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