A major haredi newspaper, Hamevaser, has come out roundly against Labor leader Yitzhak Herzog, thus lessening the already slim chances that he will be able to form a coalition after the March 17 elections.
Hamevaser is identified with the Shlomei Emunim faction in United Torah Judaism (UTJ), represented in the Knesset by MK Meir Porush, who co-founded the paper with his father, the late Menahem Porush.
While MKs from other major UTJ faction have not voiced a preference for either Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu or Herzog, Shlomei Emunim is worried that the unclarity regarding the possible coalition partners could harm the party in the polls, according to haredi website Kikar Hashabat, and has therefore decided to “take off the gloves” and attack Herzog.
The editorial Wednesday is not without criticism of Netanyahu, but it makes clear that Herzog is not an option. The writer explains acerbically that the last two years have shown Netanyahu's “true face” and that he agreed to serve as “a metastasis” of the anti-hareidi Yesh Atid, while Avigdor Liberman helped and Jewish Home's Naftali Bennett with his “kipponet” – or tiny kippah – rounded off the deal.
However, the editorial continues, Herzog is not a viable alternative. Using a common, if harsh, Hebrew idiom, it says that “there are some people trying to make the vermin kosher,” and create a positive image for the leader of the Labor party.
However, it says, we must “open our eyes in time” and see who this Herzog is, who is “showing his hooves” in the election. This is a reference to a midrash by the Jewish sages about pigs, which explains that they extend their hooves while running, as if to say – “look at me, I am pure.”
Herzog supported anti-religious laws despite being in the Opposition, the paper warns. While members of the “evil” Coalition had to support these laws out of coalition discipline, the Opposition's job was to fight against them – but it did the opposite, the newspaper says.
When the Enlistment Law came up for a vote, 12 Labor MKs voted in its favor, but three voted against it. Herzog was not one of these “righteous people in Sodom,” points out the writer. MK Omer Bar Lev, who represented Labor in the Shaked Committee, also usually voted with the Coalition.
"Is Herzog the solution? No!” – winds up the editorial.
Without haredi support, it is hard to envision Labor creating a ruling coalition. In any case, assuming polls are an indication of the actual results, such a coalition would involve highly unlikely partnerships, between haredim and Yesh Atid, and between Meretz and Avigdor Liberman.