Deputy Mayor of Tel Aviv Chaim Goren fears in an interview that the city is being hijacked under the radar by extremists.
The difficult events last night (Tuesday) in Tel Aviv in which Rabbi Yigal Levinstein and Israel Zeira were attacked by a violent mob add to the difficult atmosphere in which the religious community in the city has been in the past year. The decision of the Tel Aviv Municipality to prohibit the placing of partitions in Dizengoff Square on the upcoming Yom Kippur added to the feeling that the religious are being persecuted.
Goren describes the mindset he has been in for the past few months. "My feelings have been very difficult for a long time," he says painfully. According to him, "For several months, the religious and traditional public in the city have felt illegitimate and that the city is becoming illiberal. Different opinions, different people. Many extremist elements try to give the impression that there is only room for one shade and that those who do not align with the line are illegitimate."
Goren: "I call on Huldai to come and protect us"
The deputy mayor sends a message to those who seek to harm the pluralistic fabric: "We are expressing a statement, you are confused, Tel Aviv was established as the first Hebrew city with a very strong Jewish identity, synagogues, Simochat Torah and more. Those people who came from other places and rent a shared apartment will suddenly decide how Should the city be seen? In the run-up to the upcoming Yom Kippur, Goren warns of violence directed at the worshipers. "I am very afraid, I also wrote to the mayor that we are at some kind of risk of a Yom Kippur war."
According to him: "In the middle of the holiest day and during the closing prayer, there will be provocation and the use of verbal and physical violence to harm the public of believers in the city, and this is something that the whole world will be in total shock. I am very afraid of this, so today I will bring in all the officials, the gabbais, the heads of the communities and the rabbis who are related to the subject of prayers in the public space in the city to understand how to deal with this thing. We don't want to come and give up and surrender to the extremist elements. It is possible that 2,000 people will come to pray to come and connect and on the other hand 20 people will come with megaphones."
We saw what happened with the issue surrounding Ma'ale Eliyahu Yeshiva that Meital Lehavi and Reuven ladianski were involved in it?
"This is an election period and unfortunately those who set the tone are extreme and everyone aligns themselves so as not to fall into their own mouths and be portrayed as seemingly illiberals upside down, how absurd. I appealed to the mayor to issue a statement that he and the other public leaders will look very hard and do everything so that there is no harm to the prayers and freedom of religion in the public sphere. Violation of freedom of worship is a criminal offense."
On the last Feast of Sacrifice (Eid al-Adha), there was a complete separation between the Muslims, where was the Tel Aviv municipality then?
"I don't have a problem with that, it's freedom of worship and that's fine. Until today, we've also done it that way and held these events. Orna Barbivai, who is running for mayor, came and released a video that she wants to get religion out of the city and says that if you want to pray, go into the synagogues.
Basically, she says to do a Tel Aviv marathon, a pride parade, a women's race and all kinds of fairs, everything is possible in the public space in Tel Aviv Jaffa, but prayer, the most basic thing in the Jewish identity on which this city was founded, is no more, gather inside the synagogues, close the doors And no one will see."
Huldai failed as mayor in the context of freedom of pluralism?
"The mayor and all municipal officials should do everything to allow the prayers to be held in order in the traditional way. I don't know if he has failed yet, I hope he doesn't. I expect him and all the leaders of the liberal public who call themselves that in the city and the country to come and protect us. Make sure that we can fulfill the Yom Kippur prayer".