The Shas Knesset faction said Tel Aviv's mayor Ron Huldai's remarks about the ultra-Orthodox community yesterday were racism in the guise of a supposedly academic analysis.
Shas was responding to Huldai's remarks at the Kibbutzim College of Education urging the "silent masses" to protest against the allocation of funds to the ultra-Orthodox at the expense of the working public.
The party accused Huldai of favoring foreign children over ultra-Orthodox children.
Speaking at a conference entitled "Educational Core," Huldai particularly criticized the fact that state money was being used to cover private education in the ultra-Orthodox community, while so many Haredim were unemployed.
"With the force of political pressure and in the name of multiculturalism and other progressive slogans, Israel is funding and fostering large groups of separatists and, if you will, the ignorant, whose number is growing at a shocking rate and endangering our societal and economic strength," he said.
Huldai called on the "silent majority to restore to Israeli democracy the right to intervene and make decisions on issues so close to our hearts, like education."
In response, the chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism), told ultra-Orthodox radio station Kol Hai that "people can say what they want about Haredim. All subjects are studied in the Haredi elementary education system, and at a higher level than in the state secular system. It's impossible to define what core subjects are."
Huldai said he knew his remarks exceeded the bounds of political correctness, but that "there is no choice but to speak openly about the existence of two sides in Israeli society: those who contribute to strengthen it and make it flourish ... and the other side, of those who are funded by [the first side]."
Huldai said that in recent years, "things that are negative and dangerous" have happened to education, "which must be fought until they are corrected."
Huldai said that a series of laws has been enacted that has eroded public secular education.
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