Gafni gaffes:
'They turn my jokes into headlines'

MK Moshe Gafni responds to release of recording in which he boasted about haredi achievements; says statements taken out of context.

Mordechai Sones,

Flash 90

Knesset Member Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) responded to the recently released recording in which he sounded boastful about haredi achievements and said that the statements were taken out of context.

"They made noise from a worthless recording to get votes. Sometimes I jokingly say, 'Are you primitive?'... My jokes become top news," he told Army Radio.

Gafni was recorded at a United Hatzalah conference saying that the next plan to tighten the status quo on the Sabbath will come in the form of hundreds of non-Jewish Population Authority inspectors who will enforce Sabbath laws in the local authorities.

When the recording was revealed, Gafni angrily expressed his opinion that he was being prevented from speaking to the haredi public. "They're turning the country into Russia; I can't talk to my public," he added, "I didn't know the secularists were primitive."

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Gafni said in response that "there will be no change in enforcement ... I didn't know I was so important that haredi journalists would record my jokes and then pass them on to secular news outlets. I say 'what's spoken here doesn't leave the room' every second speech I make."

Gafni explained that "I was speaking about the Work and Rest Law, not the Supermarket Law, and the inspectors I spoke about are connected to the Work and Rest Law that isn't enforced ... I didn't say that hundreds of non-Jewish inspectors will storm businesses open on Shabbat."

The Supermarket Law empowers the Interior Minister to nullify local bylaws that permit businesses to open during the Sabbath.