3 min read
Discussion on the Israeli Government with Knesset Member Yaakov Margi

This past month Platform got the chance to sit down with Knesset member Mr. Yakov Margi from Shas. We discussed his thoughts on a range of issues, including the changes made by the current government in its religious policies, his thoughts on a potential new government and Shas’s time in the opposition.

Platform: Over the past year, the current government has changed a number of old policies that Shas and UTJ supported, such as the kashrut laws. What do you think has been the most harmful change for Torah observing Jews and the Jewish character of the state of Israel and why?

MK Yakov Margi: This government has made a couple of harmful changes in its policies in the area of religion. The problem is that there have been big changes to policies in the areas of kashrut, the matter of marriage and in the subject of religion without coordination with the chief rabbinate and main rabbinate of Israel. Changing the rabbinates mandate is a dangerous process that would not just start and end in the subject of kashrut, it would affect the entire jewish identity of the country of Israel.

Platform: About a day ago, there was a video taken of Rav Mazuz saying that Lapid was worse than Hitler, because Hitler cared about his own people. Do you agree or disagree with this statement, or were his words taken out of context?

MK Yakov Margi: I personally would never, ever make a comparison to the Holocaust in any manner, or any in argument to describe any difficulty or action. There is no enemy comparable to the Nazis and there is no person in the state of israel that can be compared to a Nazi.

Platform: After a few important setbacks from the government (such as Silman leaving, Chikli, and the Meretz MK) the government is currently very close to collapse and perhaps new elections. Assuming the current government falls and Israel has elections or a new right wing government, are there any lessons that the right wing can learn from its time in the opposition and if so what are they?

MK Yakov Margi: Look, our first priority is for this government to end and I would rather that it would be sooner rather than later. I would prefer an alternative government rather than needing to go to another round of elections. We already had an election recently, a little more than a year ago. I don't think there is any need for another election, I think we need to form an alternative government from all the right-wing elements in Israeli politics. This current government has made a couple of errors. We can see how it can't handle the economy and how Israel's internal security has been compromised through all of the disturbance and violence that really started to burst out over this last year. I think the right- wing opposition has learned important lessons from the period of the current government that can help it govern in the future. The government offices, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Finance have been cooperating with the government despite the fact that the finance ministry and the Regulatory Legal Management doesn’t share the same economic worldview of the current government. Still, they [the finance and justice ministries] gave them a green light to do whatever they want. I think one lesson in governing that we can learn from here is that the right- wing governments have always followed the advice of the Justice Ministry and the finance ministry when governing. I think that the next right wing government needs to maintain this [the current government’s] policy, with all due respect to the clerks. The clerks [within those ministries] can only suggest and advise, but the state needs to implement matters of policies. In this department, I give the current government a good grade.

Platform: It's no secret that the Haredi parties have backed Netanyahu for the last 20 years or so, is there anything the left could offer Shas that would make them join a different coalition, not led by Bibi?

MK Yakov Margi: Look, they [the coalition] spared us the answer. It's not because we said we didn't want to. They didn't even suggest anything to us, in fact the opposite is true. [Finance Minister Avigdor] Liberman said that he will not form a government with orthodox Jews. Maybe if they would have suggested something to us we would have joined, but instead they banned the orthodox Jews. The basic foundations of the government need to be in line with the interests of the orthodox parties, if the basic foundations aren’t there, we can’t join any government.

Platform: Yesterday, hundreds of religious Jews, mostly Dati Leumi danced, waved flags and even prayed on the Temple Mount. However, not all religious jews agree with going up to and praying on the Har Habayit (Temple Mount). For example, Rav Gershon Edelstein was reported to have been against such actions, viewing them as provocative and halichally (according to Jewish Law) unacceptable. What are your thoughts on Jews praying on the temple mount, before the 3rd Beit Hamikdash (3rd Jewish Temple)?

MK Yakov Margi: First of all, the flag parade wasn't just orthodox jews. Do you think that there aren't also people in Israeli society besides the orthodox, that celebrate Jerusalem day? Not all of them celebrate with white shirts, flags and dancing, but most of israel besides the radical left wing they are happy about the happiness of Jerusalem. Regarding going to the har habayit (Temple Mount), our opinion is known. This is against the halacha, because the rabbis decided that today, at this time, we can't go to the Har Habayit. It’s a sacred place and because of that I have an uneasy opinion about those who go to Har Habayit. Not because Hamas or the Palestinians are threatening us, but because it's forbidden by Halacha. However if it was allowed by halacha and someone was threatening us, my opinion would be that we should do it just to prove our sovereignty in the state of israel and the Har Habayit, but unfortunately we can't go to the Har Habayit at this time this, which is why I have an uneasy opinion about it but I respect those who believe it is allowed according to halacha and go there.

* The email will not be published on the website.