In the 80s and 90s he spearheaded the haredi lobby to close Bar-Ilan Street on Shabbat and was one of the organizers behind the mass protest against the Supreme Court in 1999. Former Member of Knesset Rabbi Menahem Porush is not fazed by the recent secular protest in Jerusalem.
In a conversation with Ynet he asserted, "All those who are fomenting (opposition) are a very small group of young people consumed by hatred. It's nothing. We have no reason to be intimidated by them. We are growing bigger and will continue to do so. Nothing will stop it."
Porush, 93, once a representative of the Agudat Yisrael party in the Knesset and deputy mayor of Jerusalem, is the haredi politician most associated with the city and the secular-religious struggle being waged in it. Currently as a bystander who still knows how to pull a few strings, he claimed that Saturday night's protest stemmed from the frustration of an entire population that feels as if its hold on the capital is declining.
However, he emphasized that, in his view, "the haredim are not commandeering Jerusalem, but are only putting an end to the secular domination."
"All of this hatred is out of jealousy," said Rabbi Porush. "They (the seculars) just need to show that they are still here, but they barely exist at all."
'Have free reproduction'
The former MK insisted that veteran Jerusalemites need not feel threatened by the haredim. "We don't bother them. We just know how to wage larger battles than them," he said.
"To keep the Sabbath and to protest against its desecration is not something we are forbidden to do. 'Jerusalem was only destroyed because its inhabitants desecrated the Shabbat.' We are shocked by this and will not allow the wall of Shabbat to be breached. This needs to cause a stir. A referendum should be done in the city and they'd see how many people think like us."
Instead of protesting, the haredi leader suggested that the secular people concentrate on having more children to win the demographic battle in the city. "We aren't to blame. We have a grandfather, a father, a son, a grandson, and a great-grandson – all together. What do they have? Everywhere we open a yeshiva, a seminar, they fill up immediately while the secular schools stand empty."
"On the contrary. They should grow. I wish. Nowadays, they are hostile towards reproduction. So they should start having children. Have free reproduction. The biggest disaster is that they limit reproduction. They should have children. We'd get by with them. They can also become religious," said the rabbi with a word of advice.