With a new government in reach, Bennett’s kippa becomes a bone of contention – Haaretz

Posted By on June 14, 2021

Interior Minister Arye Dery on Thursday distanced himself from recent remarks made by his fellow ultra-Orthodox politicians calling into question presumptive Prime Minister Naftali Bennetts religious observance and painting him as a danger to the Jewish character of the state of Israel.

We are all Jews, no matter what kind of kippa (we wear), and no one has the right to say who is not. That isnt my style, Dery, who leads the ultra-Orthodox Sephardic Shas party, said during an interview with Army Radio on Thursday morning.

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In recent days, ultra-Orthodox politicians belonging to the Ashkenazi United Torah Judaism party have used Bennetts kippa as a rhetorical device, symbolizing his alleged religious hypocrisy for joining a coalition in which they are not a part, but which does include the secularist Meretz and Yisrael Beiteinu factions.

Shas and UTJ lawmakers lambasted Bennett, set to become Israels first Orthodox prime minister after a confidence on Sunday, at a Knesset gathering on Tuesday, which had been called to discuss how to push back against proposed changes to the countrys religious status quo.

UTJ MK Yaakov Litzman called on Bennett to remove his kippa, saying that his wearing of the Jewish head-covering was a great insolence.

At least everyone should understand that he is a Reform Jew," he said.

Commenting on Litzmans remarks on Thursday, Dery stated that the lawmakers words stem from terrible pain and called on people not to judge him for them.

Far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, also condemned Litzmans insolent remark on Thursday, telling Army Radio that nobody is the account book of the holy one, blessed be he.

At the same gathering as Gafni and Litzman made their remarks, Dery used similar rhetoric, asserting that kippa wearers whose lust for power blinds their eyes would fulfill the dreams of Israels secularist parties and asserting that the new government would destroy everything that for 73 years we have maintained together, even in the most difficult times, the Jewish character and identity of the state that allows us to live together.

In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, Bennett pushed back against the ultra-Orthodox lawmakers attacks, calling them expressions that do not bring them honor and reflect a loss of temper.

The ultra-Orthodox Knesset members will not teach us what Judaism is and certainly not what Zionism is, he said, promising that as prime minister, he would take care of the ultra-Orthodox public and the Torah world.

To the ultra-Orthodox citizens of the country I say, again: you have nothing to worry about, he continued. On the contrary, the past year has shown that you are the ones who pay, with your very lives, for a political culture of neglect, nepotism and the perpetuation of problems.

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With a new government in reach, Bennett's kippa becomes a bone of contention - Haaretz

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