Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

19 Shevat 5764 - February 11, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Interview with Degel HaTorah Secretary General MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni
by Betzalel Kahn

How do you sum up Netanyahu's first year as Finance Minister?

Binyamin Netanyahu has a liking for the chareidi sector. He does not have what others in this evil government have--the hatred, the antipathy, the desire to do harm. The man is driven by two things that result in a powerful blow to our sector: a) his economic policy of giving more to the rich and harming the poor, and invariably our sector, which is economically weak, is very affected, and b) his inexplicable fear of Shinui. He is simply scared of Shinui.

As a very high-ranking figure in the ruling party, a former prime minister, a man who apparently would like to be prime minister after Sharon, his inexplicable fear of Shinui is-- frightening. If he is a coward, that is terrible. If he is deliberately apprehensive apparently he sees them as future partners.

How do you explain Netanyahu's relative popularity despite the economic decrees directed primarily against the weak elements, the Likud voters?

This unfathomable vote by Likudniks in crisis neighborhoods and development towns, which the Likud harmed more than any other ruling party, is a phenomenon that has no clear and present explanation other than the historical reckoning this sector has with the Left and the Labor Party, a reckoning that continues to this day. This has no normal explanation. The Likud does more harm to the weak elements [than any other party]. The Labor Party hurt them much less. As a party the Likud's policy is a cruel policy that to a certain extent is worse than that in the United States. It does not resemble Europe, which has a welfare policy, and therefore their vote is not readily understandable.

Meanwhile the more established sectors, the elite, are also pleased with his administration!

True, the upper tenth is applauding Netanyahu because it has become richer. But the other categories are not applauding because they are crying over the situation and they see this as economic gaps, salary gaps and income gaps that are widening at an astonishing rate, which is going to tear apart Israeli society.

Netanyahu says, "Patience, things will change."

There is a parable about a horse whose owners got it used to eating less and less until it died. Said the horse's owner: The plan was a success, but the horse lacked patience.

How do you explain the polls showing Netanyahu has support for his moves?

I don't know how to explain it, but for many long months the chareidi press encouraged him considerably in certain areas. He changed the government's decision on the issue of the budget for talmidim from abroad, he changed government decisions that at first slashed the yeshiva budgets almost entirely, he spread out the cut in Children's Allowances over seven years. He did good things and he was encouraged and it sank in.

Today we are standing at a crossroads. Now the crisis is beginning to have its effect and people in dire situations are blaming him. The yeshivas are not receiving their regular funding, families feel the pinch, and if he does not take drastic measures for the public's sake the polls will be very unfavorable for him.

Perhaps the public is grumbling about the situation, but understands this is the right way to emerge from the economic crisis?

Not true, many people think otherwise. Not just in the chareidi sector. Netanyahu is now arriving at a crossroads of real crises: the yeshivas, religious services and large families. He is to blame for everything that is taking place. If he continues to fear Shinui, public opinion will change to his disadvantage without a doubt.


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