Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman’s vitriolic comments about haredim (ultra-Orthodox) sparked indignation on Sunday, as public figures from across the political spectrum said he should be investigated for incitement.
Speaking on Channel 12’s Ofira and Berko show on Friday, Liberman was asked about various political scenarios after the upcoming election, specifically if he would join a government with the haredi parties if it meant toppling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Liberman interjected, “The haredim and Bibi are on a wheelbarrow together to the garbage dump.”
In response, United Torah Judaism chairman Moshe Gafni said Liberman was losing his mind.
“His [Liberman’s] despair in his fight against Netanyahu is making him say things like this, but we haredim have for a long time treated him like someone who has lost his mind,” he said. “I expect the law-enforcement agencies to deal with this antisemitic comment,” he added.
Housing and Construction Minister Ya’acov Litzman (UTJ) said the “desire for hatred and incitement that drives Yvette [Liberman] is causing him to go off the rails to a dialogue of the sewers.” It was “embarrassing and arouses sympathy,” he added.
Gafni and Litzman called on the attorney-general to investigate Liberman for incitement.
In response, Liberman accused the haredi leaders of shedding “crocodile tears” and hypocrisy, citing a recent video issued by UTJ comparing non-Orthodox Jews to dogs.
The haredi leaders did not criticize that video or comments by MK Yitzhak Pindrus (UTJ) calling converts through the IDF’s conversion program shiksas, a disparaging term for a non-Jewish woman, and neither did Netanyahu, he said.
“The behavior of the haredi representatives in the Knesset Finance Committee, in the Housing and Construction Ministry and in the [Transportation Ministry]’s Exceptions Committee is the disgraceful behavior of macherim who arrange everything for their sector in return for a voting slip and together ignore the rest of the public that carries them on its back,” Liberman said.
Several left-wing figures, including Labor leader Merav Michaeli and former Meretz leader Zahava Gal-On, criticized Liberman. They also accused Liberman’s critics of failing to speak out against his past attacks against the Arab community.
“Are you outraged by the Liberman’s filth against the haredim?” Gal-On asked. “It’s a shame you weren’t outraged by his racism to his previous enemy when he advanced the Nation-State Law and proposed to transfer the Arab triangle to the Palestinian Authority to revoke the right to vote of Arabs and when he conducted a death-penalty campaign,” she said.
Mickey Gitzin, executive director of the left-wing New Israel Fund in Israel, said: “Someone who lives on hate, once for the Arabs and now the haredim, is someone who preaches hate.”
“The haredim lived with him in peace as long as he only dealt with the Arabs,” he said. “Incitement against entire sectors is disgusting, whether it’s against the haredim, Arabs, left-wingers or Reform [Judaism].”