MK Menachem Eliezer Mozes, Chairman of the United Torah Judaism (UTJ) faction, fought back Monday against the latest accusations that are being leveled against haredi Jews, in media-backed protests.
He was referring to a protest currently being waged by parents against Israel's too-crowded classrooms – a protest that has been named “the sardine protest,” since schoolchildren are allegedly packed into classrooms like preserved sardines.
MK Mozes took the floor in the Knesset plenum, in the middle of a no-confidence debate, to protest the anti-religious tack adopted by the spokespersons for the “sardine” movement – which shut down schools in about 100 communities nationwide Sunday.
"I usually oppose sudden strikes,” he said, “although in the case of crowded classrooms, the protest is a justified one. But what is particularly disturbing is the unacceptable phenomenon, that whenever there is public discourse about a subject, it is accompanied by an anti-religious tone, because if you don't incite against haredim, it's just not a protest!”
"The media publicized the sardine protest and the headline said – 'overcrowding in the classrooms – lots of room in the haredi sector.' What room are they talking about? I would advise my friends to visit the schools on the ground, and start not far from here, at Panim Meirot street in Jerusalem, at the Vizhnitz School, where 810 girls study in 16 classrooms, with no auxiliary rooms at all. In other words – 50 students er classroom!
"Or go to the caravan city at the Hargol compound in Ashdod. Hundreds of students studying in mobile structures and substandard classrooms,” he urged. “Just last year, during Operation Protective Edge, they shut down the studies there, because there is no fortification there. It's a caravan town.
“You can visit Kiryat Gat, where I visited yesterday, Bnei Brak or Modiin Illit. We study in crowded conditions, in shameful conditions. So how can you say that we don't suffer from overcrowding, and that is why we aren't striking?”
MK Mozes added: “We have a principle that says – no school strikes. The haredim never have strikes. Our sages said that the verse 'from the mouths of babes You have instilled force' hints that the world exists only for the breath emanating from the mouths of children who study Torah. Even if we study in croiwded conditions, even if things are difficult, you don't stop studying. Because 'Torah does not exist – except from difficulty.' And look at the great education that comes from us. Look at the wonderfully educated students who come from our crowded classrooms! In a recent survey on violence among pupils, the haredi sector came out with a statistic of 0% violence!”
"It is regrettable,” he summed up, “that an anti-religious tone is added to such an important protest.”