Professor Avi Simhon.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
United Torah Judaism has expressed opposition to the appointment of Prof. Avi Simhon as head of the National Economic Council in light of comments he made about the haredi sector’s high fertility rate.
The haredi (ultra-Orthodox) party said on Sunday however that it would respect the prime minister’s right to appoint his preferred candidate but that it would not allow what it called negative policies towards large families to be implemented.
Five years ago, Simhon wrote an article for The Marker financial paper titled “A family with eight children is a sin,” in which he claimed that Israel’s economic prosperity was being hindered by the large number of children families in the Arab and haredi sector have.
In an article for Globes, he made similar remarks, saying the high birthrate was “destructive to society, since the chances that these children will finish school and acquire skills is very low.”
UTJ MK Uri Maklev said Saturday night that the appointment was wrong and inappropriate.
“Simhon is one of the ones who are satiated and not only does not care about the hungry and poor, but even thinks that the poor are preventing them from becoming even fatter,” said Maklev.
“People with these kinds of views are self-centered, disconnected and cruel.”
On Sunday, a spokesman for UTJ said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had spoken with the heads of the party and with Shas regarding Simhon’s appointment, and that the haredi lawmakers had expressed their concerns about him and his past comments in the meeting.
According to the spokesman, the prime minister said the agreements regarding social and economic policies made in the coalition agreements had not changed.
“The MKs stated to the prime minister that if Simhon made further such comments or acted in accordance with his stated views on large families it would not be taken lightly,” he said.
“Jewish children are the future of the Jewish people, and large families are an expression of blessing and happiness.
The government is obligated to take care of Jewish children and act in accordance with their rights and for their future. The prime minister has the right to appoint professional people who he thinks are appropriate, but we will stand guard so that he doesn’t not instigate negative trends against weak families in Israel and those with large numbers of children.”