Former Shas minister Nissim Dahan spoke to Arutz Sheva's Hebrew-language news service in response to protests over the plan to build a large hareidi-religious community in the currently religiously mixed town of Harish, in Nachal Iron (Wadi Ara). Dahan is head of the Katzir-Harish regional council which includes secular communities such as Katsir and Mei Ami situated along the east-west road that runs from Megiddo to Hadera. The road is also lined with Israeli Arab towns such as Umm El Fahm. Harish is near the western end of the road, near the city of Hadera.
Dahan criticized protestors, saying they had failed to settle Harish, and should give hareidi-religious Jews the chance to do so in their place. “Jews didn't want to come here for 20 years, now the hareidim are willing to come, so what's the problem?” Dahan asked.
"Harish was established and recognized by the government of Israel twenty years go, unfortunately the state of Israel has not yet managed to settle the city. Out of four thousand homes, only three hundred were purchased,” he said.
Dahan expressed understanding for secular residents' concerns over the creation of a majority-hareidi city, but said it was baseless. “I understand their concern over the hareidi lifestyle, but it should be understood that the hareidi city will not border the neighborhood they live in,” he said.
If anything, secular residents of Harish should appreciate the hareidi newcomers, he continued. “Just the rumor that a hareidi city would be built here made the value of their apartments shoot up by more than 100 percent, and they know that,” he said. “Every attempt to bring secular residents here failed, and they are aware of the problem.”
Dahan predicted that many more hareidi-religious cities will be created over the next generation. “If our democracy remains as it is, then going by the growth rate in the hareidi-religious community, compared to the lack of growth in other sectors, and taking into account the growing trend of aliyah [immigration to Israel] in the hareidi community – there is no doubt that in another 30 years, there will be many more cities like [Harish].”