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Nov 27, 2012

Rabbi Moshe and Mr. Gafni

I have never been able to figure out MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ). Sometimes he says things that make a lot of sense, and then other times he contradicts himself. When he says things that I don't necessarily agree with, or like, that is fine and it does not bother me because he is representing a very specific ideology. What gets me is when he tries to present himself to the public as being some sort of moderate, somebody to work with, but then internally he basically admits it was all a lie just to dupe the general public. That's the only way I can understand his latest self-contradiction.

Just a few weeks ago MK Moshe Gafni surprised the Israeli public when he spoke as part of a political panel in Hertzliya. Among what he discussed and said, Gafni said that he is in favor of anybody in yeshiva not learning should be going to the army. Gafni said it is very difficult to learn Torah all day, and a large portion of the people are not able to do it. (source: Kikar)

Seems reasonable. Even surprising to many, as here is a haredi politician saying yeshiva students not studying seriously in yeshiva should go to the army. I have heard Gafni say that before, though I have yet to see him lead a movement in the yeshiva system of weeding out the boys who are not learning and sending them to the army.

Today, however, MK Moshe Gafni is singing a different tune about the army.

The Yated Neeman has been making claims that the Lishkat HaGiyus, the IDF Draft Board, has been harassing yeshiva students; demeaning medical exams (not sure what that means - doesnt everyone go through the same medical exams?), attempts to get them to sign papers, attempts to persuade them to actually join and forgo the deferral, etc..

Gafni's response, when asked about the issue, was that this is a clear attempt by the army to literally turn them away from their religion. Things were done that are prohibited and harm the lifestyle and the way of the Torah that these students are brought up on, and things were done that were demeaning to them. The Torah world will not agree with this in any way, he said, and if things dont change immediately he will recommend to the gedolim that they instruct the yeshiva students not to go to the Lishkat Giyus. Gafni said he will be meeting with people from the Ministry of Defense and from the IDF to make them aware of the severity of the matter. (source: Kikar)

One is an external presentation - when he talks to the general public he says things to appear as a reasonable, moderate person, representing a reasonable position, while when dealing internally, he takes a very hard line against the army.

As I said above - if Gafni would say to the public what he says internally, or vice versa, that would be fine with me. He represents a certain ideology, and that is what he is trying to sell, and explain. What irks me about him is the way he sells to the public one bowl of lokshen, as the Israeli phrase goes, and a different one internally.

What does he really believe, who is he really playing? Does he really believe in his more moderate statements, or does he really believe in his more militant statements? Is he pulling a fast one on the general public, or is he pulling a fast one on the haredi community? That I would love to know.

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  1. I don't really understand what contradiction you see here: Yeshiva students who aren't really learning should go to the army, but those who are really learning shouldn't be harassed. What doesn't make sense?

  2. it is in what he said about the army. not that the boys shouldnt be harassed. if the army is evil and trying to make yeshiva boys not religious, if they are forcing the boys to transgress issurim and force them to change their lifestyle, then Moshe Gafni would also not approve of the yeshiva boys who are not learning going to the army.,
    either the army is ok and appropriate people should go (and non-appropriate shouldnt), or the army is evil and nobody should go


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