'I've got a serious problem with haredi Jews'

Left-wing demonstrator who mocked religious Jew, demanded he shave beard and remove kippah doubles down on comments. 'I won't apologize.'

David Rosenberg ,

Left-wing protest in Petah Tikva
Left-wing protest in Petah Tikva
Tomer Neuberg/Flash90 Keywords

A left-wing demonstrator who mocked a haredi Jewish man Saturday night says he won’t apologize for his remarks, adding that he “has a serious problem with haredim”, whom he accused of “draining the country”.

The incident in question occurred during an anti-Netanyahu protest in Petah Tikva Saturday night, as demonstrators demanded Attorney General Mandelblit indict the Prime Minister and push for his removal from office.

During the protest, an elderly haredi man asked several demonstrators why they had begun their event on the Sabbath, desecrating the Jewish holy day and discouraging religious Jews from taking part.

In response, hecklers mocked the haredi man, with a number of especially incendiary comments from one demonstrator who demanded the haredi man remove his kippa [yarmulke] and “Shave your beard”. As the insults continued, even several of his fellow demonstrators admonished the man for his anti-religious tirade.

The video of the incident, filmed by activist Tzvi Succot, has since gone viral, sparking criticism of the demonstrator’s anti-haredi bigotry.

On Sunday night, Channel 20 identified the man in question as Avraham Porat, a resident of Kibbutz Mizra in northern Israel.

In a telephone interview with Channel 20, Porat refused to apologize for or renounce his anti-religious comments.

“I have a serious problem with the haredim, who are draining the state.”

“I have no problem. I’m not retracting my comments and I’m not apologizing.”

Porat added that in his view, haredim have caused serious harm to the country, citing Shas leader Aryeh Deri’s return to the Interior Ministry, despite his conviction for his abuse of power during a prior term in that position.

“I think that as far as the State of Israel and the haredim are concerned, the situation is very difficult for the state. Let’s start [with the fact] that they took a criminal and put him back in the position [where he] committed his crime.”

Porat also attempted to justify his behavior towards the elderly haredi man, claiming the man had “aggressively” and “violently” confronted another demonstrator.

“He was so aggressive towards that person, who had worked so hard, and at the end of the day she was standing there, cleaning all the trash off the ground. She was just totally wiped out. I was on the side, and then I saw him [the elderly haredi man] approaching her in an aggressive and violent manner.”