Bennett is an 'evil' and 'wicked' Reform Jew who will rot, say haredi MKs

Bennett warned ultra-Orthodox MKs if their outburst is an attempt to deter the inquiry into the Meron disaster, it won't work.

UTJ MK Yaakov Litzman together with UTJ MK Moshe Gafni and Shas head Aryeh Deri gives during a press statement at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, June 8, 2021.  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
UTJ MK Yaakov Litzman together with UTJ MK Moshe Gafni and Shas head Aryeh Deri gives during a press statement at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, June 8, 2021.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
In a ferocious attack on Tuesday, the leaders of the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties United Torah Judaism and Shas denounced Yamina leader and likely incoming prime minister Naftali Bennett as “evil.” They said his government would “uproot religion” and called on him to remove his yarmulke.
Speaking in the Knesset in a joint press conference, Interior Minister and Shas leader Arye Deri, UTJ chairman MK Moshe Gafni and Housing and Construction Minister Ya’acov Litzman (UTJ) said reforms to religion-and-state issues laid out in coalition agreements drawn up by the nascent government would destroy the Jewish character of the State of Israel.
Bennett condemned the attack upon him, and accused the haredi parties and their leaders of failing their voters, saying they were responsible for the Meron disaster.
Yamina’s draft coalition agreement with Yesh Atid includes commitments to decentralize conversion from the Chief Rabbinate to municipal chief rabbis, reform the kashrut supervision market and elect a religious-Zionist chief rabbi.
“The name of the evil shall rot,” Gafni said in reference to Bennett and his proposed changes in religious matters.
“We won’t allow in any way Judaism or those things connected to the religious and haredi community for the continuation of religious life to be harmed,” he said in a fiery speech. “We won’t allow it. There will be a war on every detail. This evil man who is a partner to these agreements won’t be able to do anything.”
Gafni compared Bennett to the biblical figure of Korach, who rebelled against Moses and was swallowed up by the earth. He called on Yamina voters and the religious-Zionist public to excommunicate Yamina MKs and officials.
“Eject these people from your midst,” Gafni said. “They should be cut off and banished; you should not have an inheritance with them.”
“We will remove this evil government from the land,” he added. “Don’t try and deceive us. Don’t talk to us. Get out of our sight.”
Deri denounced the proposed reforms as “the uprooting of religion from the state,” citing legislation stipulated in Yisrael Beytenu’s coalition agreement that would allow for public transportation and increased commerce on Shabbat, civil marriage and reform the provision of kashrut supervision.
“It now turns out that due to personal lust for power and ambition, the government led by Bennett will throw away all the values that were sacred to the people of Israel for thousands of years,” he said.
“The Jewish state is in danger,” Deri said. “The State of Israel is changing its appearance and identity. The government headed by Bennett will destroy and ruin everything that we have preserved of the Jewish character and identity of the country, which enables life together over the last 73 years together.”
Litzman said the putative coalition was “an extremist, left-wing government without values or a moral compass,” adding that “everything Jewish is being wiped out.”
“I call on Bennett to remove his yarmulke,” he said. “It is great impertinence; he should take his yarmulke off after signing these things.”
Bennett denounced the fierce broadside by the haredi leaders.
“Haredi MKs won’t teach us what Judaism is,” he said.
Bennett implicitly castigated Gafni, Deri and Litzman for the Meron disaster in which 45 mostly haredi men and boys died in late April at the holy site, which suffers from long-term neglect and insufficient infrastructure for the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who the Tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.
“To the haredi citizens of the country, I say you have nothing to worry about,” he said. “The opposite [is true]. This last year has shown that you are the ones who pay, literally with your lives, for the political culture of neglect, preference of close associates and perpetuation of problems.”
Bennett vowed that a state commission of enquiry would be established to investigate the Meron disaster.•