Babies Israel news photo: Flash 90

A Finance Ministry official shocked the annual Sderot Conference Tuesday, calling Arabs and hareidi-religious Jews “irresponsible” for having "too many children.”

Dr. Avi Simchon, who is a senior adviser to the ministry, called on public officials to urge the Arab and Jewish communities to reduce their birth rate.

“You must tell them this is irresponsible. This is bad for your children and your society,” he insisted at the conference on social and economic issues in the western Negev town. Dr. Simchon added, “A normal person checks how many children he can support, and the taxes he pays are used for people who have eight children without being able to support them.

His call for a lower birth rate is rare in Israel, where both secular kibbutzim and religious Jewish communities have promoted a high birth rate to help the Jewish state grow. Muslim communities, especially Bedouin who practice polygamy, have encouraged a higher birth rate with the aim of eliminating the Jewish majority in the country.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai, chairman of the Shas hareidi religious party, stated that Dr. Simchon’s remarks represent a “small mind” and that the Jewish demographic situation is at a point of danger, whose solution is a higher birth rate.

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