Efraim Halevy 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy responded on Sunday to the growing storm
surrounding comments he made last week that religious radicalization is a
greater threat to Israel than Iran and [Iranian President Mahmoud]
“The ‘haredization,’ the process of [religious]
radicalization is bringing [societal] segregation and the deepening of a rift in
Am Yisrael,” he said in an interview on Radio Kol Hai. “It is more serious and
more dangerous than any external threat.
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Maybe my example of Iran was
extreme and I’m sorry if people were offended. I’ll be happy to apologize if
people will apologize for the path which they’re taking in order to change the
army and the public sphere.”
At a reunion of military academy graduates
on Thursday night, Halevy said that “ultra- Orthodox radicalization” was a more
severe threat to Israel than the Iranian nuclear program and stressed that
national unity is critical in countering external threats.
have infuriated a number of haredi politicians and created a significant
On Sunday, Knesset Finance Committee chairman Moshe Gafni
(United Torah Judaism) wrote to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein
Efraim Halevy on suspicion of incitement.
In his letter, Gafni wrote that
Halevy’s words crossed a red line.
“We are not talking about a single
lapse of Halevy’s. The man has put these things on his agenda and repeats them
time after time.”
Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias said
that the comments were shocking and divisive, and Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin
said Halevy was guilty of committing the sin of “idiocy of the
Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman called Halevy’s comments
slanderous, adding “it’s frightening that someone who served in such a senior
position should not flinch from disparaging and inciting against an entire
sector of the population, creating division and argument among the
But Halevy received some support from Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, head
of the header yeshiva in Petah Tikva and a leading religious- Zionist
“I partly agree with him,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “It’s very
impressive that someone who was so senior within the security apparatus should
point out that it will be the internal issues facing us which will determine the
fate of the State of Israel.
“It's not fair, however,” Cherlow added “to
throw everything on the haredim. All sectors of society need to clean house,
haredim, religious-Zionists, secular people, to see if what they’re doing is
helping or hindering am Yisrael.”
During his speech on Thursday night,
Halevy referenced a number of recent examples of radicalizations such as
gendersegregated bus lines and halachic rulings forbidding religious soldiers
from listening to women sing, saying that it was not necessary for each
generation to add more and more religious stringencies.
In the radio
interview on Sunday, Halevy insisted that he didn’t mean to offend anyone, and
spoke out specifically against radicalization, and not against haredim as a
group or as individuals.