Yamina party head MK Naftali Bennett with Elad Mayor Yisrael Porush
Yamina party head MK Naftali Bennett with Elad Mayor Yisrael PorushYehonatan Gottlieb

On Sunday, former Defense Minister and head of the Yamina party MK Naftali Bennett paid a visit to the haredi-majority city of Elad, which has been categorized as a “red” zone and will be subject to a strict lockdown from Monday September 6.

Bennett was accompanied by Elad Mayor Yisrael Porush as he toured the city’s epidemic control center. There he was updated on the latest coronavirus statistics for Elad, and on the failure of the government to address the uptick in virus cases.

Mayor Yisrael Porush welcomed Bennett warmly, noting that, “There aren’t many people who are willing to engage with us these days. What people from the outside prefer to do is dictate to us without engaging – telling us when we’re under lockdown and when we aren’t. Finally someone with real sensitivity comes along – someone who has a community here, as Elad has a sizeable national-religious population – and he shows that he cares.”

Bennett began his speech by noting that, “I have visited the [haredi] cities of Beitar Illit,Bnei Brak, and now I’m here in Elad. And I must say that from my observations it is clear that the haredi community is conducting itself in an exemplary manner – with more people wearing face masks than I’ve seen in other towns and cities. However, the government is blaming the haredim [for the increase in virus cases], locking them into their cities, and forgetting about them. If we could only find a way to conduct effective dialogue with the haredim, I am confident that we would find effective ways to get the infection rate down while allowing people to continue to work and support themselves.”

Bennett defined the problem partially as one of “the government simply not looking at human beings. They are forcing businesses to shut down without providing solutions for people who need to support their families, and they’re not giving any compensation whatsoever to the self-employed.

“This is not the right way to go about building confidence,” he added. “I call on the government to stop playing petty politics and start speaking to the people who are dealing with the facts on the ground so that we can get ourselves out of this mire.”

בנט באלעד: הציבור החרדי מתנהל למופת