Netanyahu warns against anti-haredi, settler incitement

PM: Only a small minority caused recent violence.

PM Netanyahu at Carmel Fire ceremony_311 (photo credit: Channel 10 )
PM Netanyahu at Carmel Fire ceremony_311
(photo credit: Channel 10 )
The public must not generalize and allow extremists to represent entire segments of society, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Wednesday in the Knesset.
Netanyahu addressed two recent, controversial issues – “price tag” attacks and haredi (ultra-Orthodox) discrimination against women – in his speech responding to a Kadima- initiated discussion in the Knesset plenum on “The Netanyahu government’s failures.”
The prime minister called for Israelis to unite around these topics, about which there is a “wide consensus in the nation.”
“If we’re united, we can better deal with challenges that threaten us,” he said. “We can also take on threats from marginal groups in society.”
Referring to the incident in which a haredi man spat on a eight-year-old girl walking to school in Beit Shemesh, Netanyahu said the State of Israel cannot accept spitting on people for any reason. Anyone who harasses women or anyone else must be stopped, he said, explaining that as a Western, liberal democracy, Israel’s public space is open to all.
At the same time, the prime minister said, most haredim abide by the law, and haredi leaders, including rabbis, MKs and ministers, condemned the recent incidents.
“We must not generalize,” Netanyahu said. “To include [all haredim] in the violence of a marginal, law-breaking group would be irresponsible.”
The prime minister also referred to the “price-tag” attack on an IDF base near the Jordanian border earlier this month, saying a “small but dangerous group threatens an entire [settler] population that works hard and serves in the IDF.”
Following Netanyahu’s statement, opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima) said recent events were not coincidental, and the theme that connects them is the government’s responsibility.
“The State of Israel turned into the wild west,” she said.
“Never before did people spit on little girls or burn down mosques.” Livni said the time has come for the government to say what is the source of authority – rabbis or the courts.
According to the Kadima leader, the public does not hate haredim. They are angry at the government for allowing a minority to promote a state ruled by Jewish law, she said, and they are upset because they are being asked to choose between Judaism and democracy, when the two are not contradictory.
“The prime minister only gets upset after he makes sure his coalition approves,” Livni said, saying Netanyahu’s policies are an attempt to appease haredi factions. However, she said, Zionism must win the current battle.