Deri: We will be democratic as majority
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Deri: Haredim must develop better PR

Former Shas chairman says his sect must form academia to combat secular research critical of haredim

Former Shas chairman Aryeh Deri said Thursday that the ultra-Orthodox sector needed better PR, in light of a secular campaign criticizing its small representation in the workforce.


Responding to a secular attack on the haredi work ethic led by journalists Gabi Gazit and Yair Lapid, Deri recommended an ultra-Orthodox research facility be established in order to prove the claims wrong.


"Haredi objectors are using efficient combat methods against us while we respond with combat methods from a generation or two ago," he said in an interview with the ultra-Orthodox weekly Sha'ah Tovah.


"Instead of crying out 'anti-Semitism' and 'racism' – which are unperceivable claims – we need to give a positive answer." Deri added that an academic research center was needed in order to "present the true data".


The politician added that he did not believe the statistical reports on which the claims were based, because much of the research was conducted by hostile agents and presented "in a manner that induces fear of haredim".


He said the ultra-Orthodox research facility could present data on the number of jobs held by haredim at companies such as Tara, Tnuva, Strauss, and Ossem.


"Has anyone checked the profits we provide cabin and hotel owners with? While the seculars go to Turkey, haredim turn to local tourism which provides for dozens of people throughout Israel," he said.


Deri added that the research should also check haredi spending on supermarket products such as food, baby food, and diapers. "And who has checked how many haredi Jews from abroad – the US, France, and England – buy apartments in Israel and provide for its citizens?" he asked.


'We don't all sit and study Torah'

The former Shas chairman also answered criticism about anti-Israeli haredi behavior, such as flag-torching and walking during the Memorial Day siren, calling these "phenomena that create problems".


He said the haredim who study Torah instead of working are only those belonging to the Levy Tribe. "Their studies actually save Israel and protect it, but not everyone gets to be part of the Levy Tribe," he said.


Deri went on to say that yeshiva students were "the people of Israel's Sayeret Matkal", (referring to the elite IDF unit) and that he was proud to represent them.


But he was forgiving towards the secular leaders critical of his sect, such as Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai. "He may really be concerned. To my mind he is a serious man. It seems he is expressing a fear that was ingrained in him and that someone has nurtured," Deri said.


When asked whether the secular public had anything to fear he answered, "I promise them that when we are the majority and the regime is in ourhands, we will be more democratic than they are towards us."


Deri added, "The oppression that exists today is not religious but anti-religious." In his vision of the future, he said, no one would tell anyone else how to live.


"The change will be in public. Education will not be haredi, but more Jewish. We want to tell you: we will not damage your lifestyle, and you will run your private lives any way you wish, but the character of the public sphere will be more Jewish."


פרסום ראשון: 05.14.10, 08:52
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