Govt defends plan to phase out kosher cellphones: ‘Israel is not a shtetl’

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LEFT: Yoaz Hendel, Israeli Minister of Communications (Photo by Flash90), RIGHT: Kosher phone

JERUSALEM (VINnews) — An explosive meeting has taken place between Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel and representatives of Charedi, to discuss the potentially devastating plan to eliminate kosher cellphones in the coming weeks.

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During the meeting, Hendel sharply attacked the Charedi community, saying “Israel is not a shtetl”, and the state cannot exist if the Charedim have autonomy.

Hendel convened Sunday’s Charedi media briefing to discuss his upcoming “kosher phone reforms”, in a bid to explain several decisions that have sparked Charedi outrage.

Along with other reforms, the one that angered the community the most is that “kosher phone” numbers will be able to work on non-kosher phones. Since these numbers will no longer be exclusively for kosher phones, it will be next to impossible for the Communications Vaad to provide hechsher on cell phones. This will essentially eliminate the koma hacsheira or “kosher floor”, which monitors numbers and checks kashrut.

As reported in B’Chadrei Charedim, some Charedi journalists criticized Hendel during the briefing, saying that even if he wants to weaken the Vaad or remove their exclusive control from them, there is no need or justification to eliminate the “Koma Hakseira”. They argued that there are other effective ways to increase competition and provide alternatives to activate kosher phones and weaken the Vaad.

In response, Hendel viciously attacked the community saying, “This is the State of Israel and not a shtetl. The position of the Charedim does not matter. In my opinion, this is what is beneficial for [phone] enterprises at the fundamental level.

He continued, “The state cannot exist if the Charedim have autonomy. And more precisely Gur [Chasiddus], which currently controls the Communications Vaad, also criticized internally by many players in the charedi sector.

“Regarding the question of whether I want to educate the charedi public to abolish autonomy. I don’t believe there should be autonomy in the State of Israel, and besides, you can’t hold the stick at both ends. You cannot be part of the state government, and regarding matters concerning the Charedi sector, you will decide otherwise. Since you are included in government regulations, you are the government and you still cannot have autonomy.

Hendel didn’t explain why he wouldn’t try to allow competition between different Vaad groups first, then if that didn’t work, he could break up the “Koma Hacsheira”.

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