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An open letter to those who voted for Likud, Jewish Home, or Kulanu

Leading champions of the law mandating army service are now forging backroom deals that will overturn it

Dear Friends who voted for Likud, Jewish Home, or Kulanu in the most recent elections,

Eight months ago, you all went to the polls and voted for the party of your choice. Those of you who voted for Kulanu did so because socio-economic issues were most important to you, and Moshe Kachlon promised to make it possible to afford a home and to lower the cost of living.

Jewish Home voters made their choice because Naftali Bennett and his team made it clear that they would not allow the prime minister to negotiate with the Palestinians, and that they would make sure there would be a lot of construction in Judea and Samaria.

Those who voted for Likud felt that security was the most important issue, and Prime Minister Netanyahu promised that he would make Israel — and especially the streets of Jerusalem — safe and secure.

But none of you voted for those parties to undo the historic legislation passed in the previous Knesset, which created a mechanism for higher numbers of ultra-Orthodox young men to serve in the IDF or national service, and which enabled thousands to enter the workforce.

And yet, that is what they are on the verge of doing.

As we speak, the ultra-Orthodox parties are holding secret meetings with members of those three parties — Likud, Jewish Home, and Kulanu — to find a mechanism to overturn a law which has led to a 40% increase in Haredim serving in the IDF, and a 300% increase in Haredim going to work.

This is a very puzzling turn of events because the prime minister (Likud), the defense minister (Likud), and Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) all voted in favor of this law four times during the previous term — once when it was brought before the government for a vote, and then three times in the Knesset!

Was Naftali Bennett not telling the truth when he praised the law? After all, he is the one who said after the law passed that “The law is balanced and gradual, and is good for the Nation of Israel as a whole and for the Haredim in particular.” Is Naftali — who served as a commander of an elite commando unit — really going to vote to overturn the draft law which he viewed as good for the entire nation?

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev (Likud) was particularly excited when the law passed in March 2014, saying:

It is an honor for us that the government of Israel led by the Likud movement is the one that is signed on a law which corrects a historic injustice. The time has come for all citizens of the country to enlist in the IDF or do national service because the law is the law. I support drafting Haredim into the army. We all took the lead on this together, and all have an interest in the Haredim and other groups enlisting in the army or doing national service.

Is Miri — a reserve brigadier general and former IDF spokeswoman — going to now vote to overturn that law which she was so proud of signing and helping to pass?

I become even more perplexed when I think of statements by other members of the above mentioned parties.

MK Yoav Kish (Likud) was one of the leaders of the so-called “Equality in Burden” demonstrations. I stood side by side with him in the protest tent which he established, and was inspired when he declared publicly regarding IDF service: “All of them — secular, ultra-Orthodox, and Arabs — must be partners in this mission.” Is he now going to vote to overturn the law and stop one of his life missions of ultra-Orthodox enlistment?

Finance Minister Moshe Kachlon (Kulanu) promised before the cameras: “I will not support overturning the equality in national burden law.” And now he will support it? What changed?

MK Avi Dichter (Likud) stated clearly:

The prime minister must understand that there is no other possibility…the obligation for all to serve is the vision from which all laws regarding service must be derived.

Will Avi Dichter — the former head of the Shabak who dedicated his life to Israel’s security — now vote to overturn the law which requires service for all?

Will my good friend MK Michael Oren — who came to Israel as a young lone soldier because he understood the importance of service — really vote to overturn this law which is completely in line with his value system?

What about MK Rachel Azariah, whose political career was built on challenging the ultra-Orthodox political and rabbinic establishment? Will she now succumb to their demands and vote according to their wishes?

The whole situation is puzzling, and it has to bother those of you who voted for these parties.

The good news is that there is something you can do about it. It is not too late. The ultra-Orthodox parties have issued an ultimatum: if the law is not overturned, they claim, they won’t vote in favor of the budget, which must pass in the coming weeks or we go to new elections. All of us know this is a bluff, because the ultra-Orthodox parties cannot afford to go to new elections. There is no chance that they will give up on the billions of shekel which are going to be flowing their way through this budget, and the cushy positions that they have in the government.

Any member of Likud, Jewish Home, or Kulanu can call their bluff and say they will not support the overturning of the draft legislation, and you can be sure that the budget will still pass and the government will not collapse.

And this is where you come in dear Likud, Jewish Home, and Kulanu voters. You should be bombarding the members of Knesset who you put into office. You should email them and demand that they not vote for any bill which overturns the historic draft legislation (emails of all MK’s are available in alphabetical order by clicking HERE or by party by clicking HERE). This is the time to make your voices heard. There is no way that you voted them into office to overturn such historic legislation, which is actually working and bringing the ultra-Orthodox into the army and the workforce.

And here’s a tip from a former MK — don’t send one mass email to all of them. Email each one of them individually. There is a better chance of them reading it that way. I would certainly focus on MK’s Oren, Azariah, Kish, and Dichter and Ministers Bennett and Regev. Find their Facebook pages and message them there as well. Remember — in a coalition of just 61 MK’s, all it takes is just one person with principles to object to this, and it will not pass.

Thank you for taking the time to act, and let’s hope and pray that just one of the coalition MK’s will have the courage to follow their conscience and do what is right and what their voters want.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Dov Lipman

About the Author
Dov Lipman was elected to the 19th Knesset in January 2013. He is the author of seven books about Judaism and Israel, and holds rabbinic ordination from Ner Israel Rabbinical College and a masters in education from Johns Hopkins University. He has been at the forefront of combating religious extremism in Israel and is a leader in efforts to create Jewish unity both in Israel and around the world. Former MK Lipman is invited to speak on behalf of the Jewish state both in Israel and around the world and serves as a political commentator for i24 News and ILTV. He currently serves as Senior Manager - Community Outreach for Honest Reporting.
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