‘Parasites’ comment on haredim evokes outrage

Deputy Finance Minister Levy recants comment made during radio interview; maintains haredim must integrate into the workforce.

haredi men black hats 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
haredi men black hats 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A comment made by Deputy Finance Minister Mickey Levy labeling haredim as “parasites” elicited angry denouncements from the ultra-Orthodox political leadership on Wednesday.
Speaking to haredi radio station Kol Barama on Wednesday morning, Levy said that the ultra-Orthodox community had to take on the country’s financial burdens and integrate into the labor force.
“It’s not possible to be parasites on the Israeli public any longer,” he continued.
Challenged by radio host Motti Lavie for using the controversial expression, Levy apologized but continued to insist on the importance of integrating the haredi community into the job market.
“I apologize for the word, I’m just saying that it’s not possible to live on the shoulders of the Israeli taxpayer, of those who pay taxes, those who go to the army, those who serve the state.
“You are citizens with equal rights, so come be equal in obligations too,” Levy continued.
Shas co-chairman MK Eli Yishai said that such language in other parts of the world would be called anti-Semitic.
“It worries me that in Israel in 2013 things are being said like in Germany in 1942,” the former interior minister wrote on his Facebook page. “If similar statements to what the deputy minister said were made in other countries such as by a European member of parliament about the Jewish community there would be total outrage, and justifiably so,” he continued.
“Unfortunately, the behavior of the finance minister and Yesh Atid leader gives legitimacy and encourages the continued injury to the haredi community,” he added in reference to comments made by Yair Lapid in Knesset on Monday.
Levy later apologized again from the Knesset plenum, saying again that he should not have used the word and apologizing to anyone who was offended.