MK Moshe Arbel, Shas.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Name: Moshe Arbel
Petah TikvaFamily status
: Married with five childrenProfession before becoming an MK:
Ordained rabbi with qualifications to serve as state rabbi by Chief Rabbinate; qualified lawyer; served as the legal adviser to Shas MK Yoav Ben Tzur from 2013 to 2015; and served as chief of staff to Shas chairman Aryeh Deri from 2016 to 2018.
Why did you decide to enter politics?
I studied law after obtaining my rabbinic ordination because I wanted to be involved in the rabbinate but I didn’t want to make my living from the rabbinate.
One thing which gave me great satisfaction while I was working with MK Ben Tzur was the ability to have an influence on the macro level, especially on important issues which are not a matter of [societal] dispute.
When I was working with MK Ben Tzur, the Committee for the Fight Against Poverty published its report. I took all the recommendations of the document and turned every one of its recommendations into a piece of legislation.
The social values of capitalism with mercy and compassion are Jewish values in my eyes. The satisfaction of helping provide funds to poor children, to reduce gaps in society puts me in a position which I didn’t expect, to increase the common good, and this is the reason I wanted to become an MK.
This election has been notable for especially negative campaigning. What do you hope to do to bring people together after these divisive months?
There are a lot of real-life issues which are not subject to controversy between the coalition and opposition, left and right, religious and non-religious, Jews and Arabs, and if we emphasize these things we can do have amazing cooperation on such issues.
For example, on my first day in Knesset I established a lobby together with Michal Rozin from Meretz and Osama Sa’adi from Hadash Ta’al to fight traffic accidents and construction accidents. There’s no controversy here, no coalition and opposition.
We need to find as many issues like this where we can work together, because we have no other country.
I should point out that there will be arguments, but I will do everything to ensure that these arguments are done respectfully.
Unfortunately, the election campaign, almost entirely, made almost no mention of values, of a path. It was personality based. It was shallow at best, and violent at worst.
What we have to do in society is to disagree and express different positions but to do it with love and respect.What are the first bills you plan to propose?
I am working on several issues at once. Since I am also a member of the Shas coalition negotiation team, I don’t want to talk about specific legislation.
I am working on a law to protect kashrut supervisors’ rights and to ensure that they are not employed through human resources
companies [as has been proposed]. Together with the need to protect the purity of ethics and ensure that kashrut supervisors do not receive their salary from the business they supervise [as is currently the case], we also need to protect the honor of thousands of families of such workers. They should be employed through government associations or similar entities.
What is your position on US President Donald Trump’s expected peace plan and on a possible Palestinian state?
Every day, three times a day, I pray that God will bless his people Israel with peace. I haven’t seen Trump’s plan, so I can’t respond to it. The Palestinians today are a confederation. They have a leadership in Gaza and a leadership in Judea and Samaria, and unfortunately there is no partner. Abu Mazen is very weak. Let’s leave hypothetical questions [about a Palestinian state if they were a partner and if the Palestinians committed to nonviolence] for less respected newspapers than The Jerusalem Post.
Do you support maintaining the status quo on religion and state – including issues like marriage, public transportation on Shabbat, kashrut, the Kotel and others?
I unambiguously support the status quo, and my inclination is to go further than the current status quo. Nevertheless, our ability to advance here is only through protecting the current status quo so all sides can respect each other.
We are a Jewish state. Just like there are many people who go to Paris and really want to do shopping on Sunday, but because of socialist values they can’t, we need to know to respect this.
How do you think the government should address the matter of haredi enlistment in the IDF?
As someone who served in the army and still does reserve duty, I think that the state must allow anyone who learns Torah to continue to do so [without being called up to military service]. Those who learn Torah are our Tribe of Levi [who historically taught Torah to the Jewish people] and it is our obligation to help them learn Torah. Protecting a society of Torah learners is a Jewish value. I have no problem with [state] inspection of yeshiva students [to ensure those who are enrolled in yeshivas actually come to yeshiva to study].
What can be done to lower the cost of living?
It needs to be done in stages. We need to strengthen the authorities to ensure that there is real [market] competition here.
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