In his weekly article for the left-wing Haaretz newspaper, Haim Levinson discusses the new “tax that isn’t really a tax” imposed by Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) on disposable goods, and accuses Liberman of hypocrisy in attacking the haredi community under the guise of promoting environmentally friendly policies.

According to Levinson, the proposed levies on disposable goods will not result in any significant “green” savings – and such is not the true intent of the law in any case.

“It’s no secret that the largest consumers of disposable goods are our haredi brothers,” Levinson writes. “But if you think about it for a moment, you’ll see that in practice, they’re the ‘greenest’ sector of the population, even though they’re not really interested in acquiring that label.”

“Haredim are mainly urban, not rural, but their use of private vehicles is practically nil. Their families hand down clothes from one child to the next until the clothing is totally worn out. They don’t purchase luxury or superfluous goods, they don’t fly abroad and hardly take vacations, they live in small, cramped apartments, and they use economy-size packages of food items. For one day every week and on five religious festivals a year they don’t use public transportation at all, and they don’t use superfluous electronic items. So, aside from the issue of disposables, they really are a perfect ‘green’ society.”

Levinson then addresses the hypocrisy inherent in Liberman’s “reform.” “It’s so easy to start making ‘green’ changes in someone else,” he writes. “For example, I could suggest imposing a tax on the disposable coffee cups people use in Tel Aviv – five shekels a cup. Why not? They’re not wasteful? They’re not disposable? So, okay, they’re made from paper, they’re biodegradable, but they still aren’t really necessary and they contribute to huge amounts of garbage – and then there’s the energy used to manufacture and recycle them. But all these ‘green’ people sitting and drinking their one or two cups of coffee a day from paper cups feel so ‘enlightened’ in comparison to the haredim!”

Accusing Liberman of simple populist politics, Levinson concludes, “It’s so nice and comfortable to feel ‘green’ when it’s not you paying the price, but rather the already weakened haredi mother. This is a classic hegemonic move of gaining power, where it’s always someone else suffering so that you can feel better about yourself.”