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Ultra-Orthodox celebrate Lapid's defeat

The ultra-Orthodox hope that joining the government will restore the funding stripped from the budget and annul military reforms introduced by former Finance Minister Yair Lapid.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews take part in a rally supporting the United Torah Judaism party in Bnei Brak near Tel Aviv March 11, 2015. Israelis will vote in a parliamentary election on March 17, choosing among party lists of candidates to serve in the 120-seat Knesset. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun (ISRAEL - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS RELIGION) - RTR4SYUI

At the convening of the 19th Knesset’s summer session on April 22, 2013, the chairman of Yesh Atid, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, stood at the podium and took a swipe at ultra-Orthodox lawmakers: “The only thing that has happened, Knesset member Gafni, is that you are not in the coalition,” Lapid jeered at Moshe Gafni, the outgoing chairman of the Finance Committee and Yahadut HaTorah member, in response to his interjections. “It’s called democracy, Knesset member Gafni. And I’m not asking you what I can and can’t talk about. I don’t take orders from his honor. The state has stopped taking orders from his honor. We are sick and tired of taking orders from his honor.” Two years later, on April 29, the tables were turned. This time it was Knesset member Gafni who lashed out at Knesset member Lapid: “Yair Lapid is no longer relevant. He can say whatever he wants. I am very happy to say that the state is done taking orders from him.”

Moshe Gafni’s cynicism is probably the less hurtful part for Lapid. Rather, Gafni’s party joining the emerging coalition augurs the dismantling, one by one, of all of Lapid’s achievements in the outgoing government, beginning with the conversion to Judaism reforms over which he labored, through the cuts he made in the yeshiva budgets and to the historic reform in military recruitment of the ultra-Orthodox, which he led, legislating mandatory military service for yeshiva (rabbinical college) students. This is why April 29 was a festive day for the ultra-Orthodox. Even now, almost a week later, the sense in the community, as expressed in synagogues and conversations in hallway, is one of tremendous victory. For the first time, there is a feeling on the ultra-Orthodox street that its lost honor (and funding) has been restored.

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