Last month, Huldai lashed out against the ultra-Orthodox education system over its failure to teach the core subjects.
Monday's remarks were made during a stormy City Council meeting on the attempted haredi takeover of the luxurious neighborhood. The discussion was held despite the mayor's objection and at the request of Council Member Reuven Lediansky.
At first, Huldai avoided expressing his stance on the matter, but after being booed by Ramat Aviv residents who attended the meeting, he noted: "I view the behavior of the Chabad members as irritating people. They wait for children outside the schools. This is inappropriate behavior which should be condemned."
He stressed that "the city of Tel Aviv was and will remain a free city for everyone," and determined that "democracy has failures as well, but harsh words won't solve any problem. It is my duty to allow all the publics to live together in this city and maintain their rights and ways of life."
Signs hung in Ramat Aviv ahead of protest (Photo: Attila Somfalvi)
Councilman Rabbi Naftali Lubert, who represents United Torah Judaism and the National Religious Party in the City Council, launched an unprecedented attack against Lediansky, who presented the residents' stand during the meeting.
"You talk like an anti-Semite," Lubert accused. "This is incitement and pure hatred. You are a Jew hater, and the mission has massacred the Jews in the past. There's nothing easier than hating. Arabs buy apartments in Jaffa, and no one says anything about that."
Lediansky, on his part, accused the Chabad members of trying to settle in Tel Aviv's northern neighborhoods in a bid to change their secular character.
"They have a strategy of occupation," he said. "They have set up ritual baths, kollels (institutes offering advanced Judaic studies for married men), haredi kindergartens and religious girls' high schools. They force themselves on people shopping in the supermarkets and ask them to lay tefillin (phylacteries), and that’s what they do to schoolchildren as well, persuading them to attend Torah lessons."
The Ramat Aviv residents are planning to boost their activity against the increasing haredi presence in their neighborhood. Next week, they plan to hold a rally outside the Chabad House in the center of the neighborhood, hoping for the first significant protest since the battle began about two years ago.
Nonetheless, the residents expressed their pessimism over the municipality's conduct on the matter. "We are very disappointed by Huldai's remarks and the attitude of the council members. The Municipality is acting the exact same way it acted in the past," said Sharon Becker, spokeswoman for the "Free Ramat Aviv" residents' association.
Ram Furman, another activist, accused the mayor of "choosing to bury the issue in another committee, rather than strike while the iron is hot."