Ephraim Halevy
Ephraim Halevy Israel news photo: Flash 90

Former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy, known for his penchant for provocative statements,  attacked Israel’s hareidi-religious Jews on Thursday, saying they are “a bigger existential threat to Israel than Iran and Ahmadinejad.”

It turned out that his main problem was that boys and girls do not dance together in hareida-religious circles.

Speaking a reunion of military academy graduates, Halevy said, “The existential danger to Israel, more than Iran’s nuclear program, is the radicalization of the hareidi Jews which is getting worse.”

He added, “The hareidi extremism is a greater danger than Ahmadinejad. I was educated in Bnei Akiva, and there we used to dance, girls and boys together. Were the rabbis back then so wanton? Extremist Orthodoxy has darkened our lives.” 

He seems to have failed to realize that religious Zionists, for the most part, do not engage in mixed dancing either, as it is clearly forbidden halakhically, although in the early days of Bnei Akiva that did occur.

Halevy, who was born in the  United Kingdom in 1934 to an Orthodox family, emigrated to Israel in 1948. He attended Ma'aleh, a religious high school in Jerusalem. He joined the Mossad in 1961, and headed it between 1998 and 2002.

He took an active part in a special mission by former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin which helped forge the Israel-Jordan peace treaty in 1994.

Halevy, who is known as a hard-headed pragmatist on issues involving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, is always willing to ruffle feathers on both the right and the left.

He has said in the past that Israel should include the terror group Hamas in negotiations with PA.

The Eretz Yisrael Shelanu movement sharply criticized Halevy’s anti-hareidi rant on Friday, comparing it to the Nazi ideology which brought about World War II.

“Ephraim Halevy’s remarks are a kind of inferior European anti-Semitism which was used in the Europe in 1930s to delegitimize millions of Jews,” the movement said in a statement. “The anti-Semitic cartoons in the Nazi Der Stürmer used to depict Jews in a hareidi appearance.”

“It should be made clear that Ephraim Halevy’s words are directed at the entire religious population, which part of the establishment in Israel sees as a threat to its continued domination,” the movement added.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)