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Storm over ‘Haredim Are Cancer’ Comment

A news report on court proceedings in Beit Shemesh vote fraud, and a show on the Haredi housing crisis exposes deep resentments by seculars of Haredim.
Beit Shemesh residents protesting in front of city hall what they consider the voter fraud that brought back a Haredi incumbent.

Beit Shemesh residents protesting in front of city hall what they consider the voter fraud that brought back a Haredi incumbent.
Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

“Is the Haredi population’s blood permitted?” begins an article in Kikar Hashabbat following the Tuesday Channel 2 report on the Jerusalem District Court session regarding the AG allegations of Beit Shemesh voter fraud.

While AG Yehuda Weinstein was telling the court about the organized, criminal conspiracy to steal votes in the recent municipal elections in the city of Beit Shemesh, a few miles west of Jerusalem, Amalia Buchbut, a resident of Beit Shemesh standing outside the court house, told Channel 2 the Haredim were a “cancer.”

Speaking to the cameras, Buchbut, whose sleepy city has become a focal point in the struggle between militant Haredim and modern Orthodox and non-religious Israelis, Buchbut compared the Haredim to “a spreading cancer, with metastases in every single city.”

Ouch. Say what you will about Haredi attacks on non-Haredim, and they’ve been numerous and vicious, I don’t recall anyone going in the C-word direction.

Back in 2012, Likud MK Miri Regev, formerly the Deputy IDF Spokesperson, told a rally in south Tel Aviv that “the Sudanese are a cancer in our body – we’ll do whatever it takes to send them back where they came from.”

Regev tried to respond to the pile-on of condemnations from everyone with a microphone and/or a keyboard in Israel by explaining that she meant the good cancer, or, rather that she only referred to the fact that those Sudanese were spreading everywhere, but not like cancer cells. That she meant well, in short, and didn’t intend to equate war-ravaged illegal migrant workers with anything that sucks the vitality of the body and brings about a tortured and inevitable death.

It was something to watch, especially if you’re into blood sports.

Amalia Buchbut is not a politician (although in Israel she may be running for Chair of the Labor party in no time—everybody else seems to). She does not have a team of advisers guiding everything she says and does. But she does watch television, like most Israelis, and it just so happens that she said the cancer thing directly following a show on Channel 2 titled: “Battle for the Home,” which many, especially Haredim, considered to be nothing short of a hate and fear propaganda campaign against the bearded folks moving next door.

In Israel, as in America, television channels are licensed by the public, and so they must keep within the limits of good taste and journalistic standards. The Channel 2 state-appointed board of governors will likely meet to discuss just how awful that anti-Haredi attack has been—and I’m lead to understand it crossed all the red lines.

That’s what Yossi Elituv, a member of the board, told Kikar Hashabbat: that it crossed all the red lines.

Essentially, the program showed in disturbing details the depth of the Haredi housing crisis, which drives many to leave their natural home turf and wander into formerly secular environments.

The thing is, Haredim don’t move about stealthily. Wherever they go, they’re noticed, and wherever they go they evoke predictable sets of prejudices. They’re the Ostjuden of Israel.

The program, which was just launched on Channel 2, with host Mickey Chaimovich, who used to anchor the channel’s news, is right on the numbers: each year some 7,000 Haredi couples get married in Israel (some say 8,000-9,000) and they require 7,000 apartments.

Over the past few years only 5 settlements for Haredim have been established, and the need far outweighs the supply. And so they spread out into secular cities, like Beit Shemesh, and the rest is very unappealing history.

Here’s another figure: There are 800,000 Haredim living in Israel today. And the host states plainly: These stories could be your story, too, in your neighborhood, in your home.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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One Response to “Storm over ‘Haredim Are Cancer’ Comment”

  1. Focusing on the words and not the deeds is part of the problem. Sudanese are a cancer to our state. On political correctness is an issue there. Criminal political activity is the issue not the word Cancer in regard to the stolen election.

    Keep the right focus.

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