A leading Haredi rabbi on Saturday accused top ministers of “betraying their people” and called them “worse than the Nazis.”
Conducting a weekly lesson to his students, Rabbi Meir Mazuz of the Kisse Rahamim Yeshiva in Bnei Brak was seen on video saying the government seeks to “choke Torah students” while “giving as much as possible to Arabs.”
“We have bad people. Were waiting for them to pass from this world,” Mazuz said, mentioning Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman as well as “all their friends.”
“They are traitors to their people, they hate their people. They’re worse than the Nazis — the Nazis love their own people; but [the ministers] hate their people.”
Mazuz is an influential Sephardic rabbi and has ties to Shas leadership. He was the spiritual leader of former Shas leader Eli Yishai’s Yachad party.
The rabbi has been at the center of controversy in the past.
In 2020, Mazuz drew condemnation when he said the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic in Israel was divine retribution for gay pride parades around the world. In 2016 he attributed the collapse of a Tel Aviv parking garage that killed six people to Shabbat desecration.
Israeli leaders have warned of growing hatred, division and incitement in society, particularly since the formation of the current coalition of disparate parties from left, right and center.
This month saw a right-wing activist indicted for sending threatening letters containing bullets to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his family.
Lapid has said he’s received threats as well including one message that expressed a wish he would die from cancer and likened him to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
In January a man was charged for threatening Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana that he would suffer the same fate as assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, over his plans to reform issues of state and religion, weakening ultra-Orthodox hegemony on various issues.
The formation of the unity government last year left the Haredi parties United Torah Judaism and Shas out of power for the first time in years. The parties have since attacked the secularist Liberman and Lapid, accusing them of acting out of hatred for their constituents.
The ministers insist they have no animosity toward the ultra-Orthodox population, but do seek to end various social benefits that privilege Haredim over other groups.
As the future of the coalition hangs in the balance, Channel 12 reported last week that Liberman was planning a wave of new economic cuts and measures that would target the ultra-Orthodox community.
The report claims that Liberman is looking to advance three new measures: cutting the budget allocated to yeshiva studies by a third — from NIS 1.2 billion ($360 million) to NIS 800 million ($240 million); funding the private Haredi school system at 75% as opposed to 100%; and allocating benefits like daycare subsidies, rental assistance and arnona (property tax) discounts only to those who earn a certain level of income — cutting off those who study full time.
Of note is the purported attempt to intervene in daycare subsidies, an issue that Yamina MK Nir Orbach explicitly demanded remain untouched as part of an ultimatum for him to remain in the splintering coalition.
Initially, Liberman had pushed a plan under which, starting in 2023, subsidies for childcare would only be granted if parents work at least 24 hours a week. The move would have effectively ended subsidies for some 21,000 children, many of them from ultra-Orthodox families in which the father learns in yeshiva.
But after the pressure from Orbach last month, Liberman agreed to push off the plan, and have the cut only go into effect in 2024.