Some "New Politicians" are actively working on breaking the stranglehold of the ultra-Orthodox minority, and taking about taking away some of the absurd privileges they have accumulated.
JERUSALEM (AP) -- A cultural war has erupted between Israel's rising political star and his ultra-Orthodox rivals.
Newly minted Finance Minister Yair Lapid, hugely popular for opposing the long-standing preferential treatment enjoyed by the religious minority, is moving swiftly to slash state handouts to large families, compel lifelong seminary students to work and join the army, and remove funding for schools that don't teach math, science and English.
The religious - labeled "parasites" by one Lapid emissary this week - are crying foul. But they appear helpless, at least in the short run, to stop Lapid from pressing his agenda.
For most of the last three decades, the country's small ultra-Orthodox minority sat in governing coalitions, securing vast budgets for religious schools and automatic exemptions from mandatory military service for tens of thousands of young men in full-time religious studies.
Tapping into widespread resentment over these expensive perks, Lapid made a strong showing in January elections. His new Yesh Atid, or There is a Future, party finished second in the voting, turning him into the newest star of Israeli politics and propelling him to a senior position in the governing coalition.
The religious parties, meanwhile, were pushed into the opposition.
Lapid, facing a yawning deficit, has moved quickly to drastically slash budgets favoring the ultra-Orthodox.
"I say, let there be war," Lapid said in a speech Wednesday.
About bloody time, I say. These Haredim have accumulated a disproportionate amount of influence in Israeli politics - not just cushy financial subsidies and service exemptions for themselves, but they also influence Israeli foreign policy to a significant (and disproportionate) degree. I'd love to see this guy bust them up