Radio talk-show host Gabi Gazit referred for the first time Monday to the harsh words he had spoken against the ultra-Orthodox and settlers, claiming "I was misunderstood."
Gazit, who returned from vacation and hosted his "No-Stop Radio" show for the first time since the incident, withdrew the term "worms" he had used, and noted that he had meant only those who burn the State's flag or clashed with IDF soldiers, and had not intended to include all settlers or haredim.
Before explaining himself, he addressed those who had called for his dismissal, saying, "Despite the forecasts, here you are listening to my voice. We'll be here for a long, long time."
During the show's opening monologue, Gazit spoke of the events that had led to his outburst: During Holocaust Remembrance Day, some haredim failed to observe the minute's silence in honor of the victims, and during Memorial Day for Israel's soldiers, when he mourned those of his brigade who had fallen among the sands of the Sinai, he heard of flag-burning and attacks against soldiers.
"Something snapped in me, though I restrained myself," he said about the first incident, but after a week, "the crack in my heart widened, and I knew I couldn't restrain myself anymore." He admitted that the things he said were "harsh and callous," but, he said, he had paid for them – including via Facebook and other places where he was boycotted.
Gazit made an effort to clarify that he had not intended to include entire populations, and that he was surprised that some had understood him in this way. He said some ultra-Orthodox serve in the army, some work, produce, pay taxes – "and it seems they were included in what I said, without reason."
Regarding the others, he said, "That's a group that I can slam, that's a group that it's my duty to attack each day, and that's what I'll do. Not just them – also the State that continues to permit this phenomenon. That's my opinion, and I'll continue to express it."
Son of haredi Jew
While he wished to withdraw the word "worms," but added, "I am allowed to call those who avoid service 'leeches'." He clarified that when he referred to a "primitive belief," he had meant anti-Zionist ideology which had led extreme haredi groups to burn flags, and not religious faith.
"I am the son of a haredi Jew," he said. "My father was a cantor, and taught me never to undermine the faith of others."
He also referred to his "proposal" to disconnect the haredi community from electricity and water, or expel them abroad, claiming that he had meant to "compel those who were not happy in the State to manage their lives autonomously."
So where did the misunderstanding come from? Gazit suspected it came from the listeners, from those who "heard but didn't open their ears wide enough to understand."
He promised that he would continue to attack this "contemptuous phenomenon" at every opportunity, adding, "Maybe one day I'll also apologize, if there's a reason, but not today, not today, not today." He might apologize, he said, if those who called him Hitler and Goebbels and wished him and his family a painful death came to him to apologize.
'The worst kind of parasite'
During the show, Gazit had called the haredim "leeches", "parasites" and "worms", suggesting that they should be expelled from the State or shut up in their own neighborhoods cut off from electricity and water.
"They are useless," he said, "they don't produce anything, don't contribute anything, they don't plant a tree or a tomato, don't manufacture high-tech."
"They are parasites of the worse kind, and as far as I am concerned – if it was realistic – I would pack them up in one package and send them to their primitive brothers in the dark courtyards of Brooklyn, Queens and all the other places they should live in; let Americans handle them."