Mr. Litzman finally becomes a minister

Mr. Litzman FINALLY becomes a Minister

Or how the Israeli Government sold out to the Council of Torah Sages

Repeating an untruth often enough does not make it true. Case in point the fiction, as repeatedly printed in the Jerusalem Post and elsewhere, that the haredi UTJ party “did not allow its MKs to be officials (in the Israeli cabinet) in order not to take responsibility for the government desecrating the Sabbath” (Deri: Coalition parties approve expanding cabinet by adding Litzman as minister, JP 27 August).

Mr. Litzman and the party he represents, UTJ, are effectively the Agudath Israel, a radically ultra-Orthodox party that takes all its orders from a small group of self-designated rabbinic sages. Any government official who, through the political machinations of coalition politics, is culled from the ranks of UTJ owes his (it can never be a her) allegiance 100% to this Council of Torah Sages. In this sense they are identical to the elected leaders of Iran who are actually puppets under the total control of the Ayatollahs. There is no allowance for individuality or individual thinking, be it among those who vote for UTJ who obey every dictate of the Council, or on the part of the UTJ Members of Knesset whose fealty to the sages is absolute.

Nevertheless, such UTJ government officials as there were had zero compunctions about the Sabbath issue, evidence the very health ministry MK Litzman had de facto headed. And it goes without saying that UTJ and its rabbis and constituents take full advantage of government and semi-government agencies whose Sabbath violations benefit haredim as they do all Israeli citizens — ranging from the IDF and Police to the Electric Company.

The traditional refusal of UTJ to eschew the official title of minister had to do exclusively with the fact that Agudath Israel does not recognize the legitimacy of the State of Israel, full stop.

In 1948 the Agudath Israel, which had been in lockstep with Neturei Karta, decided it would be economically expedient to create an anti-Zionist religious party in order to reap the material benefits that accrue from using its mandates as a commodity for sale to the highest bidder.  Neturei Karta, to its credit, had greater integrity and refused to give or receive.

Historically, the Ashkenazi haredi communities in Eretz Israel had been economically dependent on ‘koilelim’, i.e., Rabbi Meir Baal Haness charities in their countries of origin which, since the 18th Century, had supported their indolent lifestyle. The Shoah effectively shut off the spigots from Europe, but the haredim were still loathe to actually start working or live productive lives as most of us understand it.

The solution was to use politics as a means of sticking their hands ever-deeper in into coffers filled by both Sabbath-violating and Sabbath-observing taxpayers (of the sort who do work, pay taxes and serve in the IDF).  Hence, where the title of minister might compromise their anti-Israel principles, the power of a minister — and the enormous pork that comes with it — was never a problem.  After all, money has no smell, especially when it is taken from a heretic. What was forbidden de jure was more than acceptable de facto.

Until now.

This political hocus pocus came to an abrupt end last week when  Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that Mr. Litzman must either give up his post as deputy minister or he must take on the full title of Minister of Health. Presumably, the expectation was he would be ordered by his rabbinic puppet masters to back out completely, thereby upholding the last vestige of Agudath Israel integrity.

Indeed, Litzman deferred his decision pending the decision of the Council of Torah Sages, who, contrary to expectation, gave their green light in rather short order.

While we are not privy to the deliberations of said sages, the rationale behind their ‘progressive’ step was no doubt the additional hundreds of millions that might me siphoned from the public’s pocket to continue the tradition of indolence begun in the 18th Century. With the haredi parties it’s never about foreign policy, or security, or agriculture or industry, or immigration. They are 100% agnostic on these critical issues, and are happy to sell their vote any which way. For them national politics is about one thing and one thing only: How much can they get away with charging, while resolutely refusing to have their constituents shoulder any share of the national burden, be it defense, taxation, or male productivity of any kind.

Barring any change whereby the major parties will wake up and refuse to enter into coalition arrangements with the haredim, and in light of the exponential growth of their communities, the time is fast coming when we can legitimately rename the Israeli treasury, Kupat Rabbi Meir Baal Haness Kolel Tziyonim.

About the Author
J.J Gross is a veteran creative director and copywriter, who made aliyah in 2007 from New York. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a lifelong student of Bible and Talmud. He is also the son of Holocaust survivors from Hungary and Slovakia.