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After Netanyahu, a chance for a government of national healing

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The leaders of Israel’s two ultra-Orthodox parties held a quite staggering press conference on Tuesday, at which they denounced the “change government” and especially its Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett.

Staggering in the vitriol they heaped upon Bennett, who is set to become Israel’s first Orthodox prime minister, and staggering in the arrogance with which they asserted that theirs is the only legitimate approach to halachic Judaism and that the “Jewish state” is imperiled by their imminent exclusion from government.

Bennett and his colleagues will “destroy Shabbat, conversion, the Chief Rabbinate, kashrut and will tear the people of Israel asunder,” thundered Shas leader Aryeh Deri.

“He should take off his kippa,” raged United Torah Judaism’s Yaakov Litzman.

“The names of the wicked shall rot,” proclaimed UTJ leader Moshe Gafni.

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Bennett, in response, was mild and rather sorrowful: “These are comments that do not gain them any respect, and reflect a loss of control,” he said. “Only a year ago, when the current unity government was formed, Yamina was left out and the Haredim were in. You did not see me calling on Gafni to take off his kippa. There was a government, we were not part of it, and the sun still rose in the morning.”

“The ultra-Orthodox MKs will not teach us what Judaism is, and certainly not what Zionism is,” Bennett added.

What Bennett also accurately described as the Haredi MKs’ “hysterical outburst” underlined their conviction that for all Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ongoing........

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