Noam chairman Avi Maoz quoted New York Mayor Eric Adams’s speech last week at an Orthodox Union event about the benefits of yeshivos in a speech from the Knesset plenum this week and suggested that perhaps Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai could learn from Adams.
Maoz’s speech was made on the background of a battle by leftists in Tel Aviv over the relocation of a yeshivah. Yeshivas Ma’ale Eliyahu, located in Tel Aviv near Ichilov Hospital, has been in its current location for 26 years. A few months ago, the yeshivah agreed to Huldai’s request to relocate to a nearby location since its current lot was needed to expand an existing elementary school. The mayor promised to relocate the yeshivah to a nearby lot where a large [unused] shul is located and carry out construction to convert and expand the shul building in accordance with the yeshivah’s needs.
However, along the way, a group of extreme leftists got wind of the plan and began a campaign of incitement against the yeshivah’s relocation, holding numerous protests against it in front of the yeshivah. Two of the organizations [Crime Minister and Black Flags] that were behind the protests against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in his last term as well as the protests against the judicial reform led protests against the yeshivah as well.
In the wake of the protests by a small but vocal group of extremists, the Tel Aviv municipality announced on Sunday that it is “re-evaluating” its plan and proposing other alternatives – despite the fact that the municipality already evacuated parts of the yeshivah.
Tel Aviv Deputy Mayor Meital Lehavi of Meretz is playing a leading role in the protests – on the background of the upcoming municipal elections, with each candidate vying to show who could be the most anti-religious, i.e. liberal.
In an interview with Galei Yisrael, Lehavi said: “I learned about the nature of the yeshivah and I oppose the ‘settlers’ who want to settle here and change our character.”
The radio host responded: “So there isn’t room for everyone in Tel Aviv? It’s a city that hates Chareidim and religion in principle?”
Lehavi declared: “We won’t be silent until this terrible plan is shelved. If it would be implemented, it will harm the secular image of the neighborhood and the quality of life of the residents. We commit to taking an active part in the discussions on the alternatives in order to make sure that the yeshiva will not be established in another liberal neighborhood.”
It should be noted that the campaign is not an anti-Chareidi one as Maa’leh Eliyahu is a Dati-Leumi yeshivah and its members have served in the IDF – but the leftists can’t bear the thought of anything associated with religion. As Maoz said in his speech: “The handful of protestors refer to themselves in the notices against the yeshivah as ‘Zionist Israelis who are loyal to the Declaration of Independence, serve in the IDF and pay taxes.’ Just to mention, this is a Zionist yeshiva, whose students serve in the IDF, including graduates who serve as senior officers.”
“This is of course not an innocent protest but the continuation of the struggle of a small and extremist minority, who seek to fight against any glimmer of Yahadus out of a deep fear of a meeting of Am Yisrael with Yahadus. We’ve survived many scoundrels. We’ll survive these too,” Maoz concluded.
The campaign has been condemned by some members of the opposition, including Gideon Sa’ar and Matan Kahana as a “clear hate campaign.”
One social media user wrote: “A yeshivah that spreads light and goodness, IDF soldiers, an asset to the neighborhood, is now under an antisemitic attack the likes of which in Europe, someone would serve in prison for it.”
“The day isn’t far when a religious person won’t be able to walk around in Tel Aviv.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)