"I didn't say one word against the haredim as a group or individuals," Halevy clarified in an interview to Kol Hai Radio.
The former Mossad chief refused to apologize for his remark until the end of public religious radicalization, but expressed his regret over the fact that many people were hurt.
"The example of the Iranian threat may have been extreme, but that's not the issue," he said. "I'm sorry if anyone was hurt. The last thing I want is to hurt people, but I don't want people to hurt me either."
Asked by the interviewer, Elad Kinset, whether he was satisfied with the public debate sparked by his remarks but not by the way it was sparked, Halevy said yes.
He explained that haredi radicalization leads to seclusion and deepens the rift within the Jewish people, while unity is a necessary condition for dealing with external threats like the one Israel is facing from Iran.
He mentioned the segregated bus lines, the issue of women's singing in the IDF and haredi soldiers' demand not to see female soldiers during their entire service.
"It's not right to look for further aggravations from generation to generation," Halevy ruled, calling for the adoption of the moderate rulings of Rabbi Shlomo Goren as Israel's chief rabbi and chief military rabbi.
'Playing into anti-Semites' hands'
Halevy's remarks, which were said during a meeting with military boarding school graduates and published over the weekend, sparked a row – especially among the haredi public.
"This is a slur putting to shame the person these remarks are ascribed to," said Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman. "It's scary to imagine that such groundless remarks were said by a person who served in such a high-ranking and responsible role, who is now verbally attacking and inciting against an entire public."
Interior Minister Eli Yishai added, "It's enraging that especially on the memorial day for (slain Prime Minister) Yitzhak Rabin, Mr. Halevy has not learned the lesson of incitement."
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin slammed the former Mossad chief as well, saying that his remarks "include anti-Semitic tones". He added that Halevy should be more careful, as "such irresponsible remarks could play into the hands of the world's greatest anti-Semites."
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