Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

2 Tammuz 5766 - June 28, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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

Opinion & Comment
Politica: Laying a Trap for Peretz

By E. Rauchberger

When the current government was set up everyone raised eyebrows when Ehud Olmert appointed Amir Peretz defense minister, but Olmert sat back and grinned a big grin. He knew exactly what he was doing, even if it was at the expense of Israel's citizens and perhaps even at the expense of their security.

Peretz has no real background or experience in security affairs. The finance portfolio was much better suited to his background, but Olmert insisted on leaving the Finance Ministry in the hands of Kadima and handing the Defense Ministry over to his partner from Labor.

The Hamas government, a weak Abu Mazen, the Convergence Plan against the wishes of the Palestinian people and a diplomatic freeze are just a few of the reasons why Olmert predicted that the State of Israel was headed toward a difficult period with the Palestinians. He sent in his rival, Peretz, to tangle with the Palestinians and to be embroiled in confrontations with the Arab world and the Left camp to which his party belongs.

Not realizing what he was getting into, Peretz was eager to take on the job to improve his security credentials and to make himself a real contender for the Prime Minister's Office in the future, since the people of Eretz Yisroel could not bring themselves to elect a man totally lacking diplomatic and security experience.

Once at his new post everybody watched and waited to see who was right. Based on recent events it seems Olmert made the wiser move while Peretz got snared in a trap. The Defense Minister has been left all alone in the battle against the Palestinians and the Kassam missiles, and most of all to deal with his neighbors and friends from the city of Sderot.

And things went from bad to worse following last week's attack on Kerem Shalom and the subsequent hostage crisis.

Had Ariel Sharon been serving as Prime Minister he would never have stood by quietly as the Palestinians rained missiles down on Sderot, but would have led the counter- attack, letting the Palestinians know just what they would be in for if the missile launching continued. He would not have shirked responsibility and left his Defense Minister to fend for himself. But then again Olmert is not Sharon — in more ways than one.

Taking the Law Seriously

"The law is the law," various Leftist champions of the rule of law constantly harp here in Israel — unless the law happens to touch on religion. And in some cases, even if it is merely associated with religion.

Take the Work and Rest Hours Law, for instance. The law was not originally legislated for religious reasons or even initiated by a religious party. In fact it was not even intended to preserve the sanctity of Shabbos Kodesh, but rather to guarantee the worker's right to rest. But since the law also banned working on Shabbos it was trampled over like a doormat. Among the die-hard champions of the rule of law, not a single word of protest passed their lips, as if the law was not on the books.

Beyond any shadow of a doubt, had Sunday or Tuesday been designated the official day of rest the Work and Rest Hours Law would have been enforced to the full extent of the law and any infringement would have brought high-pitched protests in defense of the workers and their need for a day of rest.

But since Shabbos Kodesh happened to be chosen as the day of rest — after all, we are talking about a Jewish country — the law was destined to be stomped on and violated.

Recently the issue came before the Knesset Finance Committee in light of the shocking fact nearly 20 percent of workers are employed on Shabbos, most of them against their will. But during the hiring process work on Shabbos is presented as a precondition for employment. Seven days a week, like slaves. And just like the nisyonos many Jews from Europe faced in America.

During the committee meeting, chareidi MKs were in for a surprise: a general consensus on the need to tighten enforcement of the Work and Rest Hours Law. Even hard-line secularists agreed, but for reasons of their own. They were unfazed by Shabbos desecration, but wanted to defend workers' rights.

"This time it is not a cultural debate between difference segments of the Jewish people, but a debate over greed," said MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni.

Trade and Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) pointed out that compelling people to work on Shabbos has ruined many families. He added that the courts, influenced by public opinion, see violations of the Work and Rest Hours Law not as an infringement on a social law but as a struggle between the religious and the secular, and choose sides accordingly.

Saying the new consensus could finally bring about genuine enforcement of the law Yishai presented a great absurdity: his ministry employs a grand total of four part-time inspectors to enforce the Work and Rest Hours Law around the country.

All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.