The director of the Kiryat Yovel Communal Administration Yechiel Levi has said that his strategy to force haredim to move out of the Jerusalem neighborhood was “to “strangle” the community.
Levi’s comments were broadcast on Tuesday and evinced heavy criticism from President Reuven Rivlin, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and haredi political leaders.
Kiryat Yovel was for many years a secular community, but the rapid growth of the haredi population has led the community to find new neighborhoods in Jerusalem, one of which has been Kiryat Yovel.
The arrival of large numbers of haredi families has led to clashes within the neighborhood over available resources and infrastructure as well as cultural values, especially regarding Shabbat.
“One needs to strangle the haredi population so that they leave the neighborhood,” said Levi in an interview with Army Radio.
“When you strangle them, they leave, when you make it hard for them then they’re not so excited about living [here]. That’s the mechanism that works today.”
Levi was also asked why movie screenings on Shabbat for Kiryat Yovel residents were done in a center within the haredi area of the neighborhood, he answered “to demonstrate that we do not need to be concerned where to do it.”
Numerous public and political leaders expressed outrage at Levi’s comments, with even President Reuven Rivlin stepping in to denounce the community administration’s sentiments.
“A public servant must be committed [to serve] the entire public, not just one sector,” said Rivlin. “Levi’s comments saddened and angered me a great deal. Jerusalem, our capital city which brings together the four tribes of Israel, must not be turned into a battle front between its residents.”
Barkat has called for Levi to be fired from his position.
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