Environment Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) dismissed recent remarks by former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy, who said that the threat against Israel comes from hareidi-religious extremism and not from Iran.
In an interview he gave to Chabad Online ahead of the Shluchim (emissaries) Conference, which will begin Wednesday in New York, Erdan said that the biggest threat to the State of Israel is the loss of Jewish identity.
“As a government minister I know well very that the greatest danger to Jewish survival is not Iran or the Palestinians – it is the loss of connection with Judaism, it is assimilation and our ignorance, as the generations pass,” Erdan said.
“The activities of Chabad’s emissaries everywhere on Earth, your mission on behalf of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and on behalf of all of Israel, is a mission that every citizen in Israel and the Israeli government salute daily. We salute your devotion, because only Judaism has kept us alive throughout the generations.”
Erdan added that he personally experienced Chabad’s activities more than twenty years ago.
“I’m personally familiar with the activities of Chabad emissaries,” he recalled. “Even before I got into politics, I was traveling in the Far East and got to celebrate Rosh Hashanah in Nepal. This was thanks to the presence of Chabad there. Wherever there is a Jew, there is also a Chabad emissary to bring him closer to Judaism with gentleness and endless devotion.”
Former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy, known for his penchant for provocative statements, recently attacked Israel’s hareidi-religious and the more stringent of the religious Zionist Jews, saying they are “a bigger existential threat to Israel than Iran and Ahmadinejad.”
It turned out that his main problem was that boys and girls do not dance together in religious Zionist and hareidi-religious circles.
At a reunion of military academy graduates Halevy said, “The existential danger to Israel, more than Iran’s nuclear program, is the radicalization of the religious Jews which is getting worse.”
He added, “The hareidi extremism is a greater danger than Ahmadinejad. I was educated in Bnei Akiva, and there we used to dance, girls and boys together. Were the rabbis back then so wanton? Extremist Orthodoxy has darkened our lives.”
Halevy later apologized for the hurt caused by his comments, but did not rescind the remarks.