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Change coalition and ego; Haredim; Lieberman and corruption

Reader comment on item: Bibi, Thank You for Your Service

Submitted by Zev Spitz (Israel), Jun 12, 2021 at 18:12

I generally find myself in agreement with most of your writings on the Middle East. However, there are a number of important points that need to be made here.

Your portrayal of the change coalition as being led by principle is IMO quite inaccurate. The positions of both Bennet and Saar are far more in line with those of a right-wing coalition; they would have happily joined such a coalition if not for their personal animus towards Netanyahu. And Bennet has betrayed multiple sets of principles held dear by his constituents: the "Greater Israel" principles, and religious observant principles. (AFAICT Netanyahu is not blameless here either, in spite of his long record of effective and powerful leadership.)

Your characterization of the Haredi community as "not recognizing the state" is inaccurate. While Haredim do not see the secular state as the ideal goal of Jewish aspirations, most of the Haredi subgroups recognize its essential role in protecting Jewish life in Israel; and support it for that role alone.

The "shirking military duty" canard is also lacking essential context. The Haredim, dedicated to observing and preserving Judaism qua Judaism, and educating their children in that manner, strongly resist any educational or cultural program which interferes with that goal; this includes military service. And defining people who chose a grueling 9-hours-a-day schedule of study alongside other religious services as "shirking" is a little strange, to say the least.

By what measure do you classify Haredim as "wards of government" and "dependent on handouts"? Expenses for Haredi households are far lower (approximately 50% below the national average); many poverty indicators thus incorrectly classify up to 25% of Haredi households as below the poverty line because they have lower total income. Also, Haredi communities offer many opportunities to buy food and other items at wholesale prices. Haredi institutions receive far less per student than non-Haredi institutions. And the common portrayal of Haredi men as "not working" is also missing context -- as Haredi families become larger, a larger percentage of Haredi men go out to work.

Considering that Lieberman's most recent rise to power owes much to his ability to spread such canards borrowed from anti-Semitic tropes, it is indeed accurate to say that Lieberman is "ideally situated to perform this task" of dismantling the strongest repositories of Judaism in the world.


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