Liberman blames cost of living on haredim

The comment angered haredi Knesset members, who said the finance minister cannot shift the responsibility for Israel's socioeconomic challenges to their sector.

 Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman told his Yisrael Beytenu faction on Monday that part of the reason for the escalating cost of living in Israel is that more than half of haredim (ultra-Orthodox) do not participate in the workforce.

The comment angered haredi Knesset members, who said the finance minister cannot shift the responsibility for Israel’s socioeconomic challenges to their sector.

“He already found who to blame,” Shas leader Arye Deri told his faction. “In the 1930s, when the propaganda started in Germany, they decided the Jews were to blame. Today, it is the haredim who are to blame.”

United Torah Judaism leader Moshe Gafni said such statements belong in a garbage dump. UTJ faction chairman Yaakov Litzman called Liberman’s statement “an antisemitic canard that recalls dark periods when Jews were blamed for all the problems of humanity.”

“It is shameful for the government that it enabled a man who endangers an entire sector to be finance minister,” Litzman said.

Yaakov Litzman at the weekly cabinet meeting, March 2020. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)Yaakov Litzman at the weekly cabinet meeting, March 2020. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

UTJ MK Israel Eichler went further, calling Liberman “an anti-Jewish inciter,” who has tried to embitter the lives of the haredim, warning that his comments encouraged violence against them.

“Recent incidents of violence against haredim by police and others are a direct result of the incitement of Liberman and his colleagues,” Eichler said.