Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

5 Shevat 5760 - January 12, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Lapid Confirms Barak-Hilary Clinton Incident

by E. Rauchberger

Virulently anti-religious Shinui leader Tomy Lapid has confirmed that Barak did make a remark about him and chareidim to Hilary Clinton at a reception, but he said that intent was not as reported in the media.

Rabbi Moshe Gafni attacked Ehud Barak for his most serious, unfortunate outburst against the chareidi community. His words were first published in the local Jerusalem newspaper, "Kol Hair," as reported last week in Yated Ne'eman. According to the article, Ehud Barak hosted a reception in honor of Hilary Clinton during her visit to Israel a few weeks ago. Chairman of the Shinui party, Tommy Lapid, who very anti-chareidi, was also in attendance.

Barak introduced Lapid to Mrs. Clinton. Perhaps in order to define Lapid's place in Israel's political spectrum, Barak told her that Lapid could teach her how to handle the chareidim in the United States. A most unforgivable, terrible outburst.

Rabbi Moshe Gafni strongly denounced Barak's words, protesting on behalf of the entire chareidi public. Chairman of the meeting, Maksim Levi (One Israel) continually interrupted Rabbi Gafni's speech, claiming that the facts had been denied by the Office of the Prime Minister.

A few hours earlier in the Knesset at the meeting of the Coalition Administration, Rabbi Yaakov Litzman had asked for an urgent motion on the subject. However, Chaim Ramon, liaison between the Government and the Knesset, asked that the topic be removed from the agenda, since Barak completely denied that he ever said the words attributed to him, claiming that the incident was a complete fabrication.

Rabbi Moshe Gafni expressed his amazement that the denial came only after the matter had reached the Knesset: not immediately following its publication in the local newspaper. However, his question remained unanswered.

In speaking to the Knesset plenum, Chaim Ramon denied the entire incident over and over, stating that Barak never uttered these words.

So, did he say it or not? The one that should know the answer, aside from Barak and Mrs. Clinton, is none other than Tommy Lapid! What does he have to say about it? Surprise: Lapid says Barak did say it -- and how.

Here's the story according to Lapid: Hilary Clinton is running for Congress in the State of New York where, of course, there are quite a few Jews, including a lot of chareidim. Mrs. Clinton is evidently not doing too well with the Jewish vote. During her recent trip to Israel, she discussed the problem with Ehud Barak. When Lapid was introduced to her, Barak told her -- ironically -- that here was someone who could help her with her problematic votes: those of the chareidim.

In other words, Barak did say what was attributed to him, in spite of the repeated denials. Of course, his remarks were meant to be sarcastic. Barak didn't really mean that Lapid would coach Clinton how to take care of the chareidim in a negative way; this was not her request and she certainly has no interest in such a ploy. He simply was being facetious, saying that since Lapid was an "expert" in chareidi Jews, maybe he could help her enlist their support. A prime example of caustic, sardonic "humor." And a bad joke.

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