Deputy Finance Minister Mickey Levy, of the Yesh Atid party, termed hareidi-religious Jews “leeches” during a radio interview Wednesday morning. While Levy apologized shortly after, he continued to assert that hareidi Jews “live off taxpayers.”
Levy made his statement in a live radio interview for the Shmoneh Ad Esser (Eight to Ten) program on the hareidi-religious Kol B’Rama station.
Levy called on hareidi Jews to “carry the burden [of IDF service] together, join the workforce, you can’t be leeches on Israeli society, it cannot continue.”
Radio host Motti Lavi immediately called Levy out for the insult. “How can you see something like that during a broadcast, aren’t you ashamed?” he asked.
Levy said, “I apologize for the word. I’m just saying that you cannot live off of the Israeli taxpayer, off of those who go to the army, who serve the country. You are citizens with equal rights, so let’s have equal obligations.”
Lavie continued to express disappointment in Levy’s statements. “I’ve known you for many years. I knew a different Mickey Levy, one who had a talent for understanding hareidi Jews and working with them… You did amazing things in Jerusalem, you know better than I do… You are not the same man!”
Levy responded, “My friend, I will explain. I have not changed. My best friends are still members of the Eda Hareidit, I still visit rabbinic leaders and give them my respect. I respect the culture, the tradition. I am from a religious home; I respect this community.”
“I’m only saying one thing, ‘Come, join the workforce, because the economy cannot bear this burden anymore.’ The dialogue with this [hareidi] community will continue to be one of friendship,” he concluded.