Haredim battle bias with matzah balls
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Haredim battle bias with matzah balls

Community responds to radio guest star who said he would 'eat' ultra-Orthodox to lower population, but they taste bad

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

The ultra-Orthodox community and a branch of the IDF went head-to-head this week — but for a change, the recently passed draft law had nothing to do with it.

Rather, Haredim were rallying against a satirical Army Radio broadcast on Independence Day, during which a participant jokingly expressed his desire to “eat” the ultra-Orthodox to deplete their numbers.

The panel was debating the merits of vegetarianism and animal rights, when one participant, Niv Majar, said: “I personally would really eat humans, humans, because who wants to hurt animals? Let’s dilute the population, it will be fantastic.”

Majar was immediately prodded by the host, who asked whom he would eat, and wondered about the problematic implications involved, “because it has to be someone that you want to kill, and you don’t like, and someone that isn’t repulsive to you to eat.”

Majar responded that he would like to consume the ultra-Orthodox.

“This is precisely the paradox, because the people whose population I would most like to dilute is the Haredim, but they would probably have the most disgusting taste — it would have to be very bland.”

Playing along, the host suggested that the community’s fondness for matzah balls, a traditional Ashkenazi food, could be the reason for their unpleasant and bland taste.

An Army Radio host clarified further on in the program that “we didn’t really mean it: a) not kosher b) not practical c) really it’s all meant humorously.”

In response to the broadcast, members of the ultra-Orthodox community launched a social media campaign, dubbing it the “matzah ball protest.” Facebook users changed their profile pictures to an image of the food, and the status update “I, [name], smell, eat Knaidlach, and thank you Army Radio for reminding me,” spread rapidly, the ultra-Orthodox website Kikar HaShabat reported.

Activists of the Dossim movement, which says it combats incitement against the ultra-Orthodox, stood outside the Army Radio studios in Jaffa Wednesday afternoon, distributing matzah balls to passersby.

“We’ve come to lower the Army Radio employees’ fear of the traditional food,” Yair Taylor, a representative of the project, said. “We expect a proper apology from Army Radio, and the implementation of appropriate procedures to prevent similar occurrences.”

Matzah ball soup (photo credit: CC BY-ND Eden Hensley Silverstein/Flickr)
Matzah ball soup (photo credit: CC BY-ND Eden Hensley Silverstein/Flickr)

Rivka Heinman, an ultra-Orthodox attorney, filed a complaint of incitement to violence against Army Radio Thursday, and was met with skepticism by the Israeli police officers who told her that while the case would be investigated it would likely be brushed off.

The police told Heinman that “satirical shows like this — since they don’t have clear boundaries, the things said on them are considered within the realm of what’s permissible.”

A statement from Army Radio insisted that “the things said on the show were not in accordance with Army Radio’s opinions, and were not in place. Immediately after it was said, the Army Radio host clarified that this is a humor/satire show and did not intend to harm the ultra-Orthodox population. We apologize to those who were offended.”

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