Haredi leaders accuse Fischer of racism

Bank of Israel: Stanley Fischer is not concerned about high birth rates, which are welcome, but low work force participation.

Haredi (ultra-orthodox) leaders have been scathingly critical of Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer for comments he made on Tuesday about demographic trends in Israel and that secular Jews would become a minority in several decades.

Speaking at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya's Economic Conference he said, "We have a demographic challenge. If the current growth rates continue, the secular population will become a minority within decades, and the process in which a segment of the population characterized by a low rate of participation in the labor force becomes the majority cannot continue, if we are to maintain the rise in the standard of living. I am pleased that we are already seeing changes in this area."

Responses were not slow in coming. MK Meir Porush of United Torah Judaism said, "This continuing campaign of incitement and sedition against the Haredi community is extremely serious and has reached levels where people are supposed to be highly professional. The words of the Governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer are really terrible and must be condemned and denounced."

Porush added, "It is no surprise after the big cut in child allowances that somebody is saying openly and in a way that is not implicitly two-faced - let's simply destroy them."

MK Nissim Zeevi (Shas) also slammed Fischer in the "Kikar Hashabbat" newspaper. He said, "This is not the first time that the Governor has attacked Haredim in a racist way. It comes from a world view of blind hatred and lack of concern for poverty, and he is riding the wave of hatred for Haredim. It is interesting that the Governor is not concerned about the Arab population, which has doubled, but just Haredim just as Pharaoh was concerned in his day "lest they multiply" and decreed that every son that is born be killed, and just as anti Semites in Europe worried about the growth in the Jewish population."

"It would be interesting to know what he means by 'this cannot continue' when talking about the demographic problem of the Haredim. Thank God that he is soon returning to his country and I've no doubt that in the US he would not dare express himself in such a way against Hispanics, Mexicans and other population groups."

The Bank of Israel said in response, "In his speech at the IDC the Governor presented a purely economic analysis." The Bank of Israel stressed that Stanley Fischer was not referring to the high birth rate of the Haredim, which is welcome, but their low level of participation in the workforce, which he said cannot continue.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 13, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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