When is an ultra-Orthodox Jew not an ultra-Orthodox Jew? When he demonstrates against ultra-Orthodox Jews alongside MK Yair Lapid.
Lapid, head of the opposition Yesh Atid party, on Sunday took a group of party activists to a train station in Tel Aviv for a press conference at which he railed against the ultra-Orthodox parties in the Knesset for seeking to legalize mass exemptions from IDF conscription for yeshiva students.
To his left appeared a man who looked very much like an ultra-Orthodox Jew, complete with black skullcap and white shirt, holding a placard that, in a play on the words of a popular Hebrew song, read, “Whoever believes doesn’t dodge the draft.”
It was a curious sight, given the virtually blanket opposition by the Haredi community to military conscription.
Кто верует, тот не откашивает. У нас нет другой страны. #מי_שמאמין_לא_משטמת
Soon after Lapid’s press conference, the mysterious protester was revealed to have been a Yesh Atid activist named Dave Mandelshtam.
On his Facebook page, Mandelshtam can be seen enjoying the distinctly non-observant pastimes of going to the movies on Friday night — which is strictly forbidden for religious Jews.
A statement from Yesh Atid conceded, “After an examination, it turned out that the young man was a Yesh Atid activist who disguised himself as Haredi to protest against the draft dodging law.” It was done, the statement said, on Mandelshtam’s “own initiative.”
On Thursday, the determinedly secular Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman marked the Purim festival by dressing up as a Haredi soldier to poke fun at his ultra-Orthodox coalition colleagues.
Liberman’s party, Yisrael Beytenu, and the Kulanu party, under Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, are opposing attempts by the ultra-Orthodox parties to have a draft exemption bill passed before the state budget comes up for a vote by March 18, when the Knesset goes into recess.