No one has a monopoly over Judaism - editorial

Saying that a political side “forgot what it is to be Jews” is utterly reprehensible.

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)
Since the current government took office in June, we have witnessed a growing and worrying phenomenon. Political leaders who oppose the Bennett-led coalition are constantly blaming its members for not being Jewish enough, or for acting against what they consider to be “traditional Jewish values.”
The irony here is that those who suffer most from these constant verbal attacks are the religious members of the coalition.
It began right after the coalition was formed, when the heads of the haredi parties demanded, in a conference they held at the Knesset, that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett “take off his kippah.”
When the coalition agreements were signed, MK Ya’acov Litzman said that it was “an extremist, left-wing government without values, or a moral compass,” and that “everything Jewish is being wiped out.”
“I call on Bennett to remove his kippah,” Litzman said. “It is a great chutzpah – he should take off his kippah after signing these things.”
  Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the cabinet meeting, November 28, 2021.  (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the cabinet meeting, November 28, 2021. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
At that same conference, Shas leader Arye Deri said “the Jewish state is in danger,” and “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 has enabled life together over the last 73 years.”
In recent weeks we have seen a similar offensive against Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana, who is advancing reforms that will make the rabbinate’s services more diverse and more welcoming to non-haredim.
Harsh threats against Kahana led the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) to assign him a 24/7 security detail.
But what started with criticism against the government and its members soon became a way to attack anyone who isn’t working according to the interests of those who are no longer in power – Likud, Shas, UTJ and the Religious Zionist Party.
In his testimony at the corruption trial of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Nir Hefetz spoke of the hardship he endured during the police investigation. At the same time, Netanyahu supporters were sharing on social media screenshots of quotes by Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit – an observant man who wears a kippah – in which he said that there is no basis to claims that pressure was applied against state’s witnesses during these investigations. Those posting the screenshots responded: “take off your kippah.”
Another victim of this trend, who is not a politician and never took a political stance, but did report on the Netanyahu investigation and trial, is Channel 13’s legal affairs analyst, Baruch Kra, a seasoned journalist.
The peak of the actions against Kra occurred last month outside Jerusalem District Court when a Netanyahu supporter attacked him with a cane and knocked his kippah off of his head. In a video that went viral on social media, Kra is seen being followed by a herd of Netanyahu supporters and being called “dirty Baruch” and a “traitor,” with some shouting at him: “take off your kippah.”
Those who repeat this demeaning sentence are essentially saying: You’re not good enough; you’re not Jewish enough.
In order to stop this ugly trend in its tracks, the time has come to say: No one has a monopoly over Judaism, no political side and no religious stream.
There are Orthodox Jews, but there are also secular, Reform and Conservative Jews. There are right-wing Jews, but there are also left-wingers among the faith. There are Mizrachi Jews and there are Ashkenazi Jews.
People can be critical of some political views and still be religious. This tactic of turning someone, or a group of people, into outsiders should be denounced by all.
Saying that a political side “forgot what it is to be Jews” is utterly reprehensible.
Israel and the Jewish people have thrived because of their diversity, not because they were homogeneous.
Israel is undergoing difficult political times, and the slurs from the opposition aimed at the coalition have reached new lows, both in the Knesset plenum and out.
Mandelblit was quoted earlier this week as saying that until recently, Israeli democracy was in danger.
To ensure that democracy is safeguarded, the charge that others are “less Jewish” because of their political views must expunged from the discourse now.