Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

24 Shevat 5759 - Feb. 10, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly







Tension in Centrist Party Over its Attitude Toward Religion

by Aryeh Zisman

MK Yitzchak Mordechai's vote in favor of the Religious Councils Law has caused a severe dispute in the centrist party. Leftists in the party claim that the former Defense Minister's vote along with his positive attitude toward tradition, are liable to drive away potential voters to Barak and the Labor party. This criticism was echoed by leaders of the Reform movement in the United States, who also found fault with Mordechai's manner of voting.

This tension in the centrist party because of its attitude to issues of religion and state, was anticipated. Last week, the leftists claimed that Mordechai's voting along with the chareidim and the right was not the position of most of the party. Those leftists noted that although Mordechai's position is considered traditional, it will be impossible to build a centrist party with someone who expresses such views in public.

Centrist party members fear that Mordechai's positions will result in a rift in the party, since they are the opposite of those of Milo and other party leftists. This, they say, is liable to cause leftists who until now have supported the centrist party, to return to Labor.

Some in the centrist party say that prior to the voting, Mordechai was asked to be absent from the vote, but in the end he decided to appear. "We have no chance of getting the support of the left if Mordechai espouses such positions," the centrists say.

They also said that surveys taken after Mordechai's joining the centrist party do not indicate any differences in its support from when it was headed by Shachak. "When Shachak was in the first position and Mordechai or Meridor second, we had the support of the left. However, now we have lost many leftist votes, and there is no certainty that the chareidi voters, with whom Mordechai voted, will compensate for the lost leftist voices, despite Mordechai's vote," analysts in the centrist party noted. They also predicted that the chareidi community will vote for Netanyahu, and not for Mordechai.

The dispute in the centrist party over issues of religion and state will apparently continue during the drafting of the final platform on these questions.

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