Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

9 Tammuz 5760 - July 12, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
Showing their True Colors?

The recommendations of the Tal Commission on the issue of drafting yeshiva students, which passed their first reading a week and a half ago were the subject of much passion. The entire delegation of UTJ was united in a valiant effort to ensure the passage of the bill and their parliamentary efforts displayed an encouraging unity.

The surprise of the vote was the speech and vote against the bill by Likud leader Ariel Sharon, who had enjoyed a generally easy access to rabbinical leaders throughout the years. In the vote, Likud and Sharon voted together with Shinui and Meretz against the desperate pleas of the chareidi representatives of UTJ and Shas. Sharon declared that it was his conscience that insisted that he vote as he did.

In this, he turned his back on many years of cooperation with the religious community. When the Likud was in power it considered chareidi support as a "given" and many complained that we were not given our due since we were taken so much for granted. Yet this vote is liable to change this.

It still remains true that the Right is closer to us than the Left. Yet this incident will certainly remain with us remind us that the Right is just less bad than the Left, but nothing more than that.

Though we owe Prime Minister Barak some gratitude for his stand in support of the Tal bill in the face of intense criticism from his own allies, we cannot say that this one instance wiped out all the hurt of the past, such as the unnecessary and very public chilul Shabbos that Barak ordered in the transport of the turbine parts almost a year ago. Moreover, Barak's support was clearly political and not ideological, and the chances for full passage of the bill on its second and third readings are not good.

Barak campaigned very long and very loudly for drafting yeshiva students. As the leader of the opposition, with much fanfare he proposed a law to draft all yeshiva students. His last election campaign promised "The Draft for All."

The biggest problem with Barak's support was put very sharply by Yossi Sarid, who voted against the Tal bill. Many said that the prime minister must have lied when he promised to draft everyone. Sarid explained, "Our problem is with the truth of the prime minister, not with his lies. Today, the prime minister himself said that when he promised what he promised, he did not know exactly what it meant. . . . There is a problem with this. The first problem is that the prime minister does not come from nowhere; he was the Army Chief of Staff. A man who comes from being the Chief of Staff should know all the details about this issue . . . the second problem . . . is that no one can be sure that this saying [that he did not know exactly what he meant] only applies to this issue. . . And this is a very serious problem."

Serious indeed. If Barak had said that he believes that yeshiva students should be drafted but he will compromise for peace or for politics, that would have been one thing. But to maintain, with his background in politics and the army, that he did not fully understand the complexity of the proposal to draft yeshiva students when he made it, calls everything that he says into question.

We pray that he does not make such a mistake in negotiating with the Palestinian Authority.

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