Television personality and model, Galit Gutman, faced widespread criticism last Friday when she used the term “bloodsuckers” to describe ultra-Orthodox Israeli Jews during a panel discussion concerning the country’s imminent budget. The incendiary comment was made during her appearance on Channel 12‘s morning news show.
“What level of responsibility can be shouldered by a third of the nation to financially support all these Haredi individuals, those who drain our resources?” she posed to the panelists.
Escalating Budget Tensions
Currently, Israel’s government has allocated substantial funds to right-wing and Orthodox parties within the coalition, an aspect of the new budget that has drawn fire from secular opposition factions. Critics, in particular, have taken issue with the approval of NIS 13.7 billion ($4 billion) in discretionary funds, a large portion of which is earmarked for the ultra-Orthodox community.
In addition, the proposed municipal tax fund, which seeks to redistribute wealth from more affluent towns to poorer ones, has also sparked controversy.
Gutman’s Stance and Responses from Coalition Lawmakers
Gutman was unequivocal in expressing her displeasure at the government’s actions. “Our youth, those who serve in the military and attend university, will not remain here,” she contended.
Her sentiments were met with swift backlash from coalition representatives. MK Yitzhak Pindrus of the United Torah Judaism party responded by reminding of the British Labour party’s dismissal of a member for similar comments against “Talmudic Jews”.
Statements from Political Leaders
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced his disapproval of Gutman’s statement, and leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, Ayreh Deri, questioned her choice of words. Among opposition leaders, National Unity chair Benny Gantz voiced disapproval of both Gutman’s comments and the government’s budget.
Apology and Reaction from Channel 12
In the aftermath of the controversy, Gutman issued a heartfelt apology via her Instagram account, addressing those she might have offended. Channel 12’s parent network, Keshet, also released a statement condemning Gutman’s words.
The controversy around Gutman’s remarks highlights the ongoing tension surrounding government funding and the role of different communities in Israeli society. As the debate continues, it remains crucial to maintain a respectful dialogue that acknowledges the rights and roles of all sectors in Israeli society.