The New Israel Fund (NIF) recommends adopting the strategy of two anti-religion activists in the struggle to win municipal elections by increase the participation of secular voters, Makor Rishon reported on Friday.
The two activists, Matan Gutman and Ron Bodner, run the Facebook group Ha’fer Dat (Heb: Desecrate Religion) in which Bodner regularly posts inflammatory statements against the Haredi and National Religious public. He has called Chabad followers “parasites and evil angels” and posted a picture of a cat wearing two pairs of tefillin.
Bodner posted a fake poster with a “notice” from the municipality of Rishon L’Tzion, saying: “Dear Religious/Haredi, you are entering a street whose residents are secular. Please be considerate of the local customs, expose your wife’s elbows and knees in the summer and make sure to use deodorant.”
According to Makor Rishon, the NIF has recommended this Facebook page as a source of information on secular activism and as an organization worthy of connecting to in preparation for the municipal elections.
The group was recommended by the NIF as part of a political initiative called the “Free Cities Forum,” directed by Efrat Yagur, whose role is “organizing for social change and freedom of religion.” The project coordinates the struggle on issues of state and religion ahead of local elections.
According to the INF website, “A free city is a city in which a group of residents decided to stand up and act against the religious coercion of city hall, the elected officials, and the educational institutions.”
The goal of the project is to promote candidates and party lists with secular and anti-religious agendas. To that end, the NIF collaborates with organizations and activists is engaged in the war against the various Orthodox sectors, in particular Chabad, religious associations, and educational institutions such as pre-military preparatory school of Eli.
Among NIF’s partner organizations in this effort are the Secular Forum, Free Israel, Reform organizations and activist like Hader Dat and Humanist magazine. Incidentally, Matan Gutman is also the editor of the Humanist.
The NIF has distributed a document drafted by Bodner and Gutman which is a work plan for anti-religious activists ahead of the local elections. The first goal of the document is to increase the percentage of votes among the secular public. In the document, the authors propose identifying the candidates who are “genuinely secular,” as they put it, and channel votes in their direction. In addition, they call for the creation of a “secular standard” for approved candidates, and propose “to flood the public space with religion and state issues.”
One major target for this draft are Chabad activities, which include summer camps for children in municipalities that cannot afford one. Chabad seems to enrage the Hafer Dat activists more than other religious groups. They recommend, for instance, to call city officials every time they run into a Chanad teffilin booth.
They also recommend emulating the new French laws against religion, and to prohibit wearing yarmulkes in public spaces.