Habayit Hayehudi Candidate Sought to Block Hiring of Arabs

Bezalel Smutrich, No. 9 on list, was co-founder of NGO that unsuccessfully pressured settlement council not to employ Arabs in 2011.

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
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The new Habayit Hayehudi slate, January 15, 2015.Credit: Dudu Bachar
Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

The No. 9 candidate on Habayit Hayehudi’s Knesset slate, Bezalel Smutrich, was a leader of a 2011 campaign to stop Arabs from working in Jewish settlements.

In 2006 Smutrich was among the founders of Komemiyut, which in early 2011 joined a number of Gush Etzion settlers in demanding the dismissal of an Israeli Arab driver from the company that operates the Gush Etzion Regional Council’s school buses.

Komemiyut’s chairman, Musa Cohen, wrote in a letter to Shaul Goldstein, then head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, “We were sorry to hear that your company has begun to hire Arab drivers,” and offered reasons why it shouldn’t. One was that “a Jew is obligated to make every effort to give livelihood to his brothers.” Another was that the company operating the buses, the Gush Etzion Development Company, “was founded as an important economic and organizational tool with the common goal of settling the land. As those in charge of the economic realm in this important commandment, you have certainly noticed that economics brings people to the place. The Zionist fathers knew this secret before the establishment of the state, and therefore they understood the importance of Hebrew labor.”

According to Cohen, another reason not to employ Arab drivers, was “the modesty and future of our sisters and daughters.”

Goldstein rejected the group’s demand.

Habayit Hayehudi responded: “The chairman of Habayit Hayehudi opposes any discrimination in employment and has expressed himself on this subject a number of times.”