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Israel TV host sparks backlash after calling haredim ‘bloodsuckers’

“How much burden can you put on a third of this country to support all these haredi bloodsuckers?” Galit Gutman said on air.

Israeli television host Galit Gutman. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
Israeli television host Galit Gutman. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.

TV host Galit Gutman was forced to apologize after making a harsh statement against Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jews during a Channel 12 morning show on Friday.

“I would like to apologize from the bottom of my heart if I offended an entire sector,” Gutman wrote on her Instagram account over the weekend.

“I love the State of Israel, and out of concern for its future, I have strong criticism of the representatives of the ultra-Orthodox sector in the Knesset. The words were said during a discussion about the government’s budget and the property tax fund. But I have no intention of harming the sector as a whole. I apologize to anyone who was hurt by these words,” she said.

The “property tax fund” refers to a government proposal to have wealthier municipalities transfer part of their revenue from local property taxes (arnona) to poorer municipalities, most of them either in the geographic periphery or with predominantly haredi populations.

Channel 12 also issued a statement on Sunday: “Due to the seriousness of Galit Gutman’s comments during the morning show that aired on Friday, an inquiry was held this morning.

“During the inquiry, it was made clear to Galit that statements of this type are not acceptable in any way in the body of the broadcast. Gutman, who has already apologized for the remarks, asked to do so on the broadcast and to clarify the matter to the viewers. … It was agreed that she would do this at the start of her next program this coming Thursday.”

On Friday, Gutman, a former model and actress, said, “How much burden can you put on a third of this country to support all these haredi bloodsuckers? … There is a new country and government here that is milking its residents. Our young people, those who serve in the army and go to university, won’t stay here.”

One of the panelists on the show, Ashdod mayoral candidate Barak Seri, said: “That is a very harsh statement. We would not want to say such things about another sector of the public.”

Gutman refused to back down, instead questioning Seri’s motives, remarking that there are “too many haredi voters in Ashdod.”

Her remarks led to a flood of criticism from public figures.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced “Gutman’s ugly and inciting statement against the ultra-Orthodox public in Israel, which is reminiscent of elitist statements directed against [Jews] in the past. There is no place for this. All Israelis are brothers.”

National Unity Party Chairman Benny Gantz of the opposition also criticized Gutman. “I hear the statements against the ultra-Orthodox community, … some of which have reached the level of the worst antisemitic tropes. … This extreme behavior does not improve or serve anything other than adding hatred that will deepen the divide between the different parts of Israeli society.”

The Second Authority for Television and Radio, which regulates commercial broadcasts, opened an investigation following Gutman’s comments. Channel 12 faces a possible fine of tens of thousands of shekels.

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