Apr 7, 2010

The fall of Yaakov Litzman

So after all that, after saying how the graves are definitely jewish and how halachically there is no way out of it and there is no way to move the graves, and if the government decision would be to move the graves he (Deputy Health Minister Litzman) would have to resign, after all that it turns out it was all just a power play.

Litzman backed down. Very unusual for him - he has made a political career around creating his own image as being strong-minded and one who sticks to his values. he has been able to threaten resignation in the past based on following halacha, and has generally been able to use the threats to get his political way. For what might be the first time, his image is now cracked. he stood up and threatened to resign because of how serious the grave situation in Ashkelon is according to halacha. And now he backed down.

Netanyahu told Litzman that he had to take the recommendations of the committee, and build the emergency room in its original location, moving the graves - respectfully of course. The backlash was at an unexpected level and he cannot ignore it.

Litzman said he understood the position Netanyahu was in, and if that is the decision he will go back to UTJ and see how they will proceed.

MK Gafni quickly announced that UTJ will not pull out of the coalition over this issue.

Litzman was sidelined. He could still personally resign. This overall would help or hurt nobody else, but it would allow him to keep his image.

Instead, Litzman said he will reconsult with a group of rabbonim. Sure enough, he came back saying that it could be done and he would not resign.

And here we have it folks - the fall of Yaakov Litzman. This will be the case that will be remembered as the one in which Yaakov Litzman lost his ability to threaten and manipulate the system. It will be the one in which Litzman lost his power and image. It will be the one that was shown that UTJ, or some people in UTJ, are not really basing everything they do on halacha and Torah ethics, but power plays and politics.

9 comments:

  1. I hope you're right because I don't see this on the news sites yet.

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  2. Raf i - it was on the news sites the past two days. I saw articles in ynet, kikar and bechadrei about it (each from a different angle, but the details were all more or less the same)...

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  3. This isn't the first time Litzman has backed down. Since 1977 every time Aguda/Gimmel has been in the coalition the Head of the Finance Committee of the Knesset went to a Gerrer, first Avraham Shapira and then Litzman.
    Degel demanded the Finance committee for Gafni and the other Hasidic factions in the Aguda didn't want it going to a Gerrer (in light of the J-m municipal election bruhaha)
    Litzman claimed that, from the Gerrer perspective, it is forbidden to serve in the government even as a "Deputy Minister" and as such the only suitable position for him would be the Finance Committee chair. When it was clear that the rest of Gimmel was backing Gafni, Litzman did get a "Psak from his Rebbe obligating him to take the (Deputy) Minister position in the Health Ministry"

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  4. Mul - the internal UTJ fights are a completely different issue, They are not claimed to be halacha based. Litzman cannot claim, and never did as far as I know, that he deserved a position over Gafni or Ravitz based on halachic preference. Just that the Gerrer community is larger than the Litvishe.

    In politics, Litzman bases his fights on halacha and says he cannot compromise the halacha and would therefore step down if he is opposed. In this case, they opposed him and he backed down.

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  5. Doesn't he have to discuss it specifically with Rav Elyashiv, since that's the Rav he got the "psak" from?

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  6. R.Litzman should be careful.
    Next time they will say he is just calling "WOLF."

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  7. Mordechai Y. ScherApril 07, 2010 5:04 PM

    Wow. I'm shocked. A real letdown and radical departure from the history of haredi involvement in national politics.

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  8. IMO the whole thing was a no win situation for yahadut hatorah once they decided to hoist themselves onto the hangmans noose.

    1)if the original decision had remained in place, there would have a back lash against them (and maybe some other parties like lieberman inc for going along). i am talking about the type of "shinui backlash" that happened after child allowances were raised.

    2) if the decision was reversed, then litzman has to decide whether or not to committ hairi kari on the knesset podium. he choose not to, making him look foolish as you correctly pointed out.

    3) if the bodies are moved and there is massive rioting, then again the hareidim look like "fill in the blank with your favorite word".

    litzman had some luck in the timing of the decisions; what with pesach, holyland scandal, this girl spy scandal, i don't think that it was noticed.

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