Yesh Atid’s Deputy Finance Minister Mickey Levy said on a Haredi radio station Wednesday that Haredim are “parasites.” He immediately apologized, but the damage was done.
Yair Lapid, chairman of the Yesh Atid party and now Finance Minister, is widely hated by the Haredi community for his position that everyone in Israel, Haredi or not, should serve in the army or at least spend would-be army time doing national service
He angered the Haredi community even more this week with his proposed two-year budget that would cut payments for child support, a move that would be felt in the Haredi community, where families have a higher than average number of children. Money for yeshivas also would disappear.
Levy said on the Kol BaRama radio program that Haredim “should share in the burden, to integrate into the job market, stop being parasites drawing on the Israeli public’s resources… You can’t keep leaning on those who pay taxes, who enlist to the army, who serve the country.”
He immediately apologized for the use of the word “parasites” and then defended himself with a routine of “some of my best friends are Haredim.”
“I still visit the rabbis and pay them respect. I hold great respect for tradition and culture, and I come from a religious home,” he said.
Levy said that regardless of the faux pas, his point stands. “You are citizens of equal rights, thus you should be equal in your obligations as well.”
Haredi Knesset Members lost no time in criticizing Levy and Lapid, who irritated them even more in the Knesset on Monday when he told Haredim, “I understand you’re going through tough times. Weren’t you sitting in the government which created the deficit? Were you on Mars?”
He said the Haredi MKs are partly to blame for a bloated government deficit because of funding for yeshivas and other funding for the Haredi community.
Lapid came in for across-the-board criticism, even for posting Facebook messages on the Sabbath Haredi MK Moshe Gafni of Yehudat HaTorah said Lapid posts on the Sabbath because he loves it and wants a fight.”
“I suggest to my fellow hareidi MKs not to play into his hands,” he added. “He comes and says, ‘We’ll deal with the Haredi Jews.’”