The administrator of a neighborhood community center in Jerusalem is in hot water after a recording of comments he made against the city’s haredi population were publicized on Israeli radio Tuesday morning.
Yehiel Levy, the chief administrator of the Yovalim community center, which services the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood in the capital, was recorded discussing his plans to “strangle” the neighborhood’s growing haredi community in an effort to force them out of the area.
In the recording, which was leaked to Army Radio, Levy argues that local authorities must make living conditions for local haredi families difficult, with the result that the influx of haredim into the neighborhood will be reversed and the secular majority preserved.
“What’s the idea? To strangle them. When you choke them, they leave. When things become difficult, then they lose the desire to live [here]. That’s the way things work today.”
Levy listed a few specific policies adopted to push haredi Jews out of Kiryat Yovel, including purposely organizing community events on Shabbat near streets with haredi residents, in order to make the Jewish holy day less pleasant for them.
“If the management [of the community center] really wants to hold movie events [for the community] in order to meet the cultural needs of the secular population, why do you hold it in an area with so many haredim, where even the rabbi of the neighborhood lives? In order to demonstrate that we don’t have to worry about where to do it.”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) slammed Levy’s comments and demanded the Yovalim center give an account of its policies.
“I have instructed [my office] to call the community center’s management for an immediate explanation. I will not accept discrimination, racism, or hatred against haredim or any other sector in the State of Israel.”
Mayor Nir Barkat also castigated Levy, and called upon the national organization of community centers to fire him.
“We cannot tolerate such serious and unacceptable comments from a public servant paid by the taxpayers through the municipality and Education Ministry.”