Agudah Threats to Remove Gafni’s Lithuanian Faction
Agudath Israel, the Hasidic faction of United Torah Judaism, dominated by the Gur dynasty, is threatening to drop its Lithuanian partner of many years, the Degel HaTorah party led by MK Moshe Gafni, and replace it with the more conservative Lithuanian group known as the Jerusalemite Faction.
The threat comes in response to Gafni’s demand to be the head of the United Torah Judaism election list and for Gafni’s people to be given the majority of the realistic slates (4 out of the 7 the polls usually predict for UTJ).
Agudah is also threatening to add Chabad candidates to its election list. If these are not idle threats, then an Agudah-Jerusalemite faction-Chabad list could threaten Gafni’s party’s ability to rise above the 2.25% vote threshold in November.
Opposition and Likud party Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu accused MK Gafni of sabotaging the right-wing bloc with which Netanyahu expects to establish his next government (Netanyahu Warns UTJ Split Threatens his Future Government). The former Prime Minister was responding to the news of the threat of a split that hangs over the United Torah Judaism faction, as the Lithuanians and Hasidim that comprise it do not agree on their future together.
Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, the Ponevezh Rosh Yeshiva and the spiritual leader of the Degel HaTorah party, is laboring to mediate between the Hasidim and Lithuanians to prevent a split. It should be noted that, despite the Agudah faction’s attempt to describe the clash as being over who would lead the faction and which side gets more seats, Gafni has been steadfast in saying the split is ideological.
The Lithuanians are stricter than the Hasidim over permitting a limited IDF draft of Haredi students, but the biggest split is over the Belz Hasidic dynasty’s decision to collaborate with the state’s education ministry and reap the benefits of integrating core curriculum subjects such as math and English.
Both sides have been engaged in establishing a rabbinic committee to examine the Belz decision to allow the Zionist state to get a foothold in their educational institutions.