Channel 12 has yet to respond to a flood of criticism after broadcaster Rina Matzliach castigated “the chareidim” for being responsible for the spread of coronavirus by failing to follow the dictates of the state. Three MKs wrote letters to the channel and to Matzliach slamming her for comments such as “the relationship between [the state and chareidim] must change. Chareidim cannot remain indifferent to their obligations to the state.”
In her weekend monologue, Matzliach recalled previous incidents of unrest involving chareidim, adding some of her own analysis to dramatize the situation. “Do I have to describe what happens when avreich gets a draft notice, even though he knows he is not going to the army? There are riots and road closures. When tax officials go into Me’ah She’arim, they have to leave under armed guard. The chareidim need to learn – they have to accept the authority of the state, for better or worse. I hope that all residents of Bnei Brak get the assistance they need and recover from this difficult situation. But the relationship must change.”
Matzliach is nothing more than a racist, MK Rabbi Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) wrote in a letter to Channel 12 Sunday. “It doesn’t make sense that when the nation is uniting to fight this threat to life, a woman sits in her studio and accuses an entire population. I call on Channel 12 to immediately fire Matzliach over this incitement, which we cannot allow to divide us.”
MK Rabbi Yaakov Tesler (UTJ) said that “along with the coronavirus, there spreads a virus of incitement and hate against chareidim. Instead of dealing with the infections with sensitivity, media outlets like Channel 12 choose to incite and lie. The vast majority of chareidim are following quarantine rules. I am warning Channel 12 that they will be held responsible for the results of this incitement.”
MK Rabbi Moshe Arbel (Shas) said that “it’s clear that Matzliach’s intention is not to encourage the chareidi population to follow Health Ministry rules but to incite against it. For that incitement she reaches back to events that happened 25 years ago.”
Presaging the media storm, MK Rabbi Yisrael Eichler said Friday that “the media is taking advantage of coronavirus to allow the release of anti-Semitic views and attitudes from the Middle Ages. The worst tragedy is the use of violent and military terminology due to the virus. Does an alleged assistance effort in Bnei Brak have to be couched in terms of a military campaign? Words can kill, terminology generates attitudes, and attitudes create reality. Not for nothing are we witnessing armies of journalists and photographers, hungry for blood, doing everything they can to defame the poor, confused residents of Bnei Brak,” he added.