rabbi dov lipman.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Outgoing Yesh Atid MK Dov Lipman has called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to roll back the achievements made on integrating haredim into military service and the work force, as well as accomplishments on issues of religion and state made during the last government.
It seems likely that haredi parties United Torah Judaism and Shas will be part of the next coalition and both factions have spoken repeatedly, both during the election campaign and subsequently, of repealing many of the measures adopted by the outgoing government on religious life in Israel and on haredi integration.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Lipman said that dangers to the internal cohesion of the Jewish people in Israel are just as serious as external security dangers, and that revoking these laws would harm efforts to bring the population together.
He referred in particular to the law for haredi conscription passed by the outgoing Knesset, including its provisions for training haredi men for work and assistance with job placement, as well as the conversion reform law that was approved by the cabinet but has not been implemented.
“The State of Israel is about the people of Israel, we’ve come back here to create our future together,” said Lipman.
“Giving control off all these issues back to the haredim again and moving us backwards would push people away from Judaism and from being proud Jews in a Jewish state.
That would demonstrate a lack of leadership and a lack of vision and I would call on the prime minister to really think hard about this,” he said.
Lipman accused the haredi leadership of thinking “only about their community, not the Jewish people as a whole,” and called on Netanyahu “to recognize the significance of these issues, to bring them to the fore and to try and find real solutions.”
The law for haredi conscription passed last year also gave some 30,000 haredi men an exemption from military service in order to allow them to enter the workforce, which the previous legal situation prohibited if they were still of military age but had not served in the IDF.
Lipman pointed to recent data showing a 300 percent increase in haredi men looking for work in 2014 over 2013.
The MK said that the haredi conscription law combined the with cuts enacted by the government to state-paid stipends for full-time yeshiva students and to child welfare allowances had brought more haredi men to seek work instead of remaining in the study halls.
“Theres no doubt that these measures mean that it was less worthwhile for people to sit back and stay in yeshiva.
There’s a real concern that by making it comfortable for them again by reversing the cuts this trend could be halted,” Lipman said.
He also said that when the haredi parties inevitably demand to repeal the law for haredi conscription or revoke the most critical clauses it would reignite the damaging emotions and debate about the issue and once again give ammunition to extremist rabbis to incite against the idea of haredi military service.
Lipman called for the conversion reform law, which would increase access to conversion and, proponents hope, leader to greater numbers of non-Jewish Israelis from the former Soviet Union converting, to be implemented.
It was approved by a government order in November last year, but has been stalled by opposition from the Chief Rabbinate, as well as from some members of the steering committee which was set up to implement the law.
Looking to the next Knesset and the possible make-up of the next coalition, Lipman said he believed there would be few MKs who would take a stand on these issues, although he expressed hope that incoming Kulanu MK Rachel Azaria, who has worked for reform of aspects of religious life both in Jerusalem as a member of the municipal council and nationally, would speak out against the repeal of some of the measures adopted during the last government.
The outgoing Yesh Atid MK said, however, that he did not believe Kulanu party leader Moshe Kahlon would expend much political capital on the issues and that Azaria “will have a very hard time sitting in this coalition.”