Ultra-Orthodox MK Gafni: 'these elections are war'

Grand Rabbi of Viznitz: destroyers of religion want to bring about a Holocaust like Hitler

Moshe Gafni
Fiery ultra-Orthodox MK and senior figure in the United Torah Judaism Party Moshe Gafni said on Monday that the elections on Tuesday are “a war” for the ultra-Orthodox community, which they are religiously obligated to fight.
Speaking on Army Radio, Gafni was explaining comments he made Sunday night at the mass rally held by UTJ in Jerusalem, where he compared what he described as assaults on Judaism and the Torah by secular political parties to the wars fought by the Israelites against their biblical enemy, the Amalekites.
“Amalek wages war against God and His Torah,” said Gafni Sunday night.
“In every generation, when they waged war against God and His Torah, it was a war with swords; today when they declare against God and His Torah, it is through elections.”
Speaking on Army Radio on Monday morning, Gafni declined to say exactly who he was comparing to the nation of Amalek, although his references to elections made it relatively clear the reference was to Yisrael Beytenu and Blue and White, both of which have promised to establish governments without the ultra-Orthodox parties.
“When there is a war against Judaism and things which are beloved to us, then there is an obligation to go and fight. Our war today is the elections,” said Gafni.
The idea that there is a religious duty and obligation to vote in elections is one that has been strongly pushed by the ultra-Orthodox parties, and is in part the reason why turnout among the ultra-Orthodox electorate is so high, because of the religious significance of voting.
Speaking in similar terms to Gafni Monday night at the UTJ election rally was the Grand Rebbe of the Viznitz hassidic community, Rabbi Yisroel Hager, who noted that the Hebrew date of the election on Tuesday, the 17th of the Hebrew month of Elul, was the same day that Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939.
“Eighty years ago the evil one, Hitler, entered Poland on 17 Elul… Unfortunately the destroyers of religion and the ruiners of religion also want to bring about a Holocaust, may God have mercy,” continued the grand rabbi, in an apparent reference to Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman and Blue and White co-chairman Yair Lapid, who have both campaigned against the ultra-Orthodox community.
Lapid responded on Twitter to the comments and said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should condemn Hager’s remarks.
“These are [Netayahu’s] natural partners?” I demand that Bibi [Netanyahu] condemn the words of the grand rabbi. Hitler murdered my grandfather in the gas chambers. There is a limit to incitement,” Lapid tweeted.