Attias defends his comments about Arabs

Housing minister: State must remain Jewish, it would be better for Jews, Arabs to live separately.

ariel attias 88 248 (photo credit: Courtesy)
ariel attias 88 248
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias (Shas) defended on Wednesday statements he made late last week in which he warned that haredi housing projects were urgently needed in order to stop "illegal Arab expansion" which, he said, threatened to overtake the Galilee. "The content of what I said, I think, is acceptable, from my perspective," he said while speaking at the Knesset plenum, but turning to MK Ibrahim Sarsour (UAL-Ta'al), added, "I think you would style it differently." "I am not certain whether when you turn to me and request that we build in the Arab sector, that you mean a new neighborhood in Herzliya for the Arab sector," Attias continued. "You mean, that the Arab sector, which has its own culture, its own places of worship, its own shopping habits, should live in its own culture." Sarsour seemed to nod his agreement. "The state is a Jewish state," the housing minister went on. "I believe that that is what it needs to be. "There is, of course, a place within it for Arabs to live, they have equal rights, we need to build for them, but in the end the definition is a Jewish state. We are not embarrassed about that," he said. "This is our country, this is where we want to live, we've been waiting for this for many years, and we expect there to be peace with all the different populations, including the Arab population," Attias maintained, but emphasized that "I believe that we should live separately, not that we have to live separately, and that's what I believe. You can disagree." "People stick their heads in the sand and think that equality will come if they say nice words, I think equality will come if people have the possibility to live in their own culture," he said. "Nobody thinks that I'm opposed to haredim, or that I'm racist against haredim," said the haredi minister. "And I've said the same things. The haredi community lives much better when it lives separately."