Sometimes when I go to Jewish events that I know will include a question and answer session, I make a chart that looks like this:
# of times someone asks a question that is not actually a question ( __ )
# of times speaker is interrupted by someone in the audience ( __ )
# of rants by audience members ( ___ ) *
This chart has come in particularly handy at conferences, but can be applied on a holiday such as Shavuot, if you write. (It also makes an excellent drinking game.)
I spent Shavuot at the JCC in Manhattan, which, if you have not attended a tikkun there before, can be really overwhelming. It’s super crowded, especially in the areas with the cheesecake and water and coffee. The offerings are pretty diverse: yoga, films, art, speakers, and more traditional learning situations with chevrutah. I came because I was in the neighborhood, and also for the 10 pm session with Rabbi Jacqueline Koch Ellenson (RKE in this piece, for the sake of brevity here), director of the Women’s Rabbinic Network, called “Women of the Wall, Pluralism in Israel, and American Jews.”
RKE began by asking the audience about the values that motivate their activism (“I just don’t want someone to say that my voice can’t be heard,” said one woman,) and also about the values that they felt Israel should embody, which were no surprise in a liberal Jewish crowd: equality, democracy, justice, respect, Judaism, co-existence, pluralism. “I am worried by what I see in the news,” said RKE, before giving a brief history of the actions of Women of the Wall, beginning in 1988, when the group gathered at the Kotel for the first time. In 1993, the group attempted to read Torah for the first time at the Wall, resulting in the arrest and detainment of group members. (The Torah reading happened, outside the jail near Jaffa Gate, while members of the group and allies waited for folks to be released.) ”There was a feeling of being vulnerable, and yet so strong,” said RKE. The events continued to escalate after 1993, and American Jewish support for WOW grew. RKE: “Seeing Jewish women being taken away by Israeli police in a Jewish state? How can it be?”
(Question from an audience member: ”Should Israel Jews be able to interfere in American politics the way American Jews are interfering in Israel’s? Why should that be allowed?”
Friend I brought with me, under her breath: ”I don’t know, trillions of dollars in military aid?”)
It’s the opinion of the American Jewish community that RKE feels led Netanyahu charge Natan Sharansky with creating a solution to the “problem” of Women of the Wall and their goal of creating equal gendered space. (RKE-Robinson’s Arch is not so physically accessible, and can seem “like you’re praying in an archae0logical dig.”) There’s some confusion, however, as to who makes the ultimate decision. It’s not Naftali Bennett, apparently, but RKE encouraged the audience to email him and write him letters. It’s probably not Netanyahu, either. “Liberal Jews have given up on the Kotel,” said RKE. “They’re saying, this is not our place, we don’t need to be involved. I’m not interested in restoring the sacrificial system, but I don’t want to give (the Kotel) up. It’s ours, too. We’re liberating the wall again.” Citing the May 10th prayer service, which was the first time that Women of the Wall were protected by the Israeli police, RKE said, “We’re watching the ground shift, we’re not going to go back.”
*Tally, in case you’re interested, from this session:
# of times someone asks a question that is not actually a question: 3
# of times speaker is interrupted by someone in the audience: 4
Rabbi Andrew Sacks directs the Rabbinical Assembly in Israel, the organization of Masorti/Conservative rabbis.
The office of the Chief Rabbinate is established in law. The need for such an office is altogether another question.
Only the State and four cities are obligated under law to have a Chief Rabbi. Since there is no agreement as to who should hold the position – we have two; one Ashkenazi and one Sefardi. Except in Tel Aviv where the city council refused to allocate funds for two rabbis – so they have one.
Jerusalem has gone years without a Chief Rabbi. There is lack of agreement as to whether at least one of Jerusalem’s Chief Rabbis must be a Zionist.
All told there are thousands of employees “working” for the rabbinate and for the Ministry of Religions. Hundreds of millions of shekels are allocated.
Last week, for the first time, a decision was rendered that will require regional councils to employee non-Orthodox rabbis. This is an historic breakthrough in a country which, while not employing all Orthodox rabbis, has employed only Orthodox rabbis. As many as fifteen such positions for non-Orthodox rabbis may be filled. More »
The February issue of BelleMode, an Israeli fashion magazine, is speaking up against anti-women events in Israeli public life in its own provocative way. Their making-of video is below and here’s some of the full set. But here’s the question: protest notwithstanding, is this also sexist objectification?
Oh, and this is the first time I’ve ever checked the “fashion” category box in my life. Shehekhianu… (Hat tip Alix.)
I read with great interest your op-ed “Lechery, Modesty, and the Talmud” in the New York Times last week. I commend you for taking such a strong stand on this important issue, especially in the wake of continued violence against women in Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods. However, I think there is a structural flaw at the core of your argument that I would like you to address. (continues here)
This is a guest post by Lillian Cohen-Moore, a freelance writer, editor and stage manager who calls the West Coast home. She often tours and travels to cover assignments; she lives out of a suitcase and on twitter.
Earlier this month in Beit Shemesh, Israel, a group of women did something unthinkable to their critics: they danced.
The population in Beit Shemesh ranges from ultra-Orthodox Jews to socially active long-time residents, as well as recent waves of English speaking immigrants. As Beit Shemesh and Israel at large undergo social change, much of it religious and class based, the clashes between segments of the population happen more often, with an often vociferous intensity from the ultra-Orthodox. As members of many Orthodox families begin university and military service, the extremists in the community lash out, believing their peers should stay as removed from larger society as possible. In this current social climate, women across Israel have been subject to escalating harassment by these members of the ultra-Orthodox. Media outside of Israel began to sit up and take closer notice of the harassment of women in Israel after Naama Margolese, an eight year old resident of Beit Shemesh, was spat upon and had rocks thrown at her by ultra-Orthodox men. Parents escorting their daughters to the same school are subject to similar harassment, being told by grown men that their daughters are ‘whorish’ because their school uniforms are not modest enough.
Women like Brenda Ganot, who works at Partnership 2Gether of the Jewish Agency for Beit Shemesh, and Miri Shalem, director of the Ramat Beit Shemesh community center, wanted to respond to the harassment going on in their community. The negative coverage of the city, which has included media attention on the ultra-Orthodox push for segregated bussing, got to both women. Ganot describes Beit Shemesh possessing a large moderate community with a deep engagement in charity and community events, a community that has been eclipsed in the eye of many media outlets while they cover the actions of the ultra-Orthodox community. More »
The following is a sermon I delivered to my congregation last week for Parashat Vay’ḥi on the travesties in Beit Shemesh and Mea She’arim — a little late, but still important.
The Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines legacy as: a gift by will or something which is transmitted by or received from an ancestor. It is especially interesting to me that the word choice of the Mirriam-Webster dictionary is to use the language of transmission because the Hebrew word we use for tradition, מסורה, literally means ‘transmission.’ This idea, of something which is transmitted by an ancestor, is incredibly significant to the Jewish tradition. It is significant, mainly, because we take immense pride in our tradition and we take immense pride in the success we have had in passing down our traditions from generation to generation. This pride we take in transmitting our traditions is not new, quite the contrary, it goes back to our very foundation and to our very origins. Sure enough, when we received the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai we were instructed, as we read daily in the words of the first paragraph of the Shema, וְשִׁנַּנְתָּם לְבָנֶיךָ, וְדִבַּרְתָּ בָּם – and you shall teach these words to your children and you shall speak about them. Now, that is truly significant, but it goes even deeper into our origins than our covenant with God at Mount Sinai, rather it goes to our very first foundations, to Avraham Avinu, to Abraham our Forefather, of whom the Torah tells us לְמַעַן אֲשֶׁר יְצַוֶּה אֶת-בָּנָיו וְאֶת-בֵּיתוֹ אַחֲרָיו, וְשָׁמְרוּ דֶּרֶךְ יְהוָה – such that Avraham commands his children and his household after him and they will guard the way of God. What we impart to our children, what we transmit to them, the legacy which we leave them, is a huge part of the Jewish tradition. More »
New York — Matisyahu, a Jewish kid who “found” Torah Judaism through reggae and lost his ability to trim his facial hair, reported today via Twitter that he shaved.
Jewish News services the world over sent news alerts, alerting their followers that the “musician” who has made a fortune “utilizing” another culture’s music for the “benefit” of the Jewish people shaved.
It would appear that by cleaning himself of his facial hair he has lost his magical powers to assume the musical styling of the Islands as well as his ability to be a role model for other lost Jews.
This modern day Samson story doesn’t end well for this mediocre musician. While reaction is mixed, his blatant abuse of his religion and the plagiarizing of another for his career is most likely over. Few are upset about this, yet there will be many who use this as further proof that young American Jews do not have the same connection to their traditions as previous generations.
[Editor's Note: We cut the rest of this article because it isn't news. For the sake of the holiness code move on. This guy made bad music with lame ass messaging based in a lack-luster Jewish indoctrination education.]
Segregating a certain class of people to the back of the bus has an intense resonance for anyone raised on stories of the Black civil rights struggle, Rosa Parks, and the irresistible narrative of how far we’ve come. So it’s not surprising that a story about the quasi-public New York City bus, the B110, where “the women is in the back. The men are in the front” [sic] has spread far and wide from the Columbia University newspaper that ‘broke’ the story.
Blogger Unpious describes the general tenor of the media response: “Like a school of hungry piranhas, the secular media seems to have discovered misogyny in the Chasidic world and they’re having themselves a feast.” He has a thoughtful critique on the dynamics of outside criticism on this insular community:
The outrage of outsiders won’t effect change largely because outsiders don’t seem to actually care about the plight of Chasidic women. Rather, they seem driven by a general distaste for all things Chasidic and, in this case, by the larger symbolism of back-of-the-bus discrimination. To them, Chasidic women are pawns in a larger struggle to root out discrimination everywhere, a worthy cause, no doubt, but one that Chasidic women, by and large, will not care for. Moreover, outsider outrage produces a defensive posture within the Chasidic community – on the part of both men and women – and speaking out against discriminatory practices, even by the tiny minority who might do so otherwise, becomes even more unlikely. I have yet to see those indignant outsiders bother to speak to actual living, breathing Chasidic women (or men, for that matter) to gauge how they feel about it.
However correct Unpious may be, and even if NYC’s response is unlikely to actually effect more progressive gender norms in the Chasidic community, it is offensive for the city to permit a public franchise to discriminate in this way.
Let’s legislate non-orthodoxy out of existence. OTOH I’d like to see what the law actually says. Maybe we could add a friendly amendment that since there are no streams of Judaism, therefore the Orthodox have no right to maintain their hegemony, because the Reform and Masorti are not (now, according to this new bill) streams, but exactly as legit as orthodoxy, since it would now all be “just Judaism”? FTW, right? Or we could counter-propose a bill that there is no such thing as Orthodoxy, and the true heir of Jewish practice is [name your favorite non-Orthodox movement].
Or maybe we could get the government out of the religion business, stop allowing the nuttiest of the nuts to determine who is a Jew, while simultaneously preventing people with good intent from converting (contrary to Jewish law, despite the fact that they keep claiming they’re the true inheritors, just like lots of other odd things they do, such as (my fave) prevent Jewish weddings unless their roster of rabbis is involved, despite the fact that one needs no rabbis at all halachicly speaking).
Hey, maybe we should just do that anyway.
Gene Simmons of KISS on Israel. It’s kinda weird, but I love it when Simmons/Witz tells Israelis to toughen up because Americans criticize everyone. So much for the tough-on-the-outside sabra? Maybe the real reason we don’t have peace in the middle east yet is because despite all the machismo of the Israeli image, Israelis aren’t really all that tough? Or maybe even because they are trying to live up to the image that American Jews on the right desperately want them to be? (Hey does that mean we can blame the occupation on all those kids who beat up Jewish kids in elementary school?)
The Masorti movement (the Israeli and generally non-North American arm of the Conservative movement) is bringing out the snark a bit with a new ad campaign to address the issue of government stipends for yeshiva students in Israel.
They’ve put up big ads all over Jerusalem (including on the back of buses) with the statement, “Torah that is not accompanied by a worldly trade will in the end amount to nothing and will lead one into sin” (Pirke Avot, chapter 2) and an index of the occupations of some of the tradition’s great sages–Maimonides was a physician, Rashi was a vintner, R. Yehoshua ben Hananiah made needles, and so forth.
I, for one, am amused, and glad they’re throwing down on this one.
You can see a close-up of the ad here.
So far, however, Bibi has condemned the psak din, but has not done anything to fire the rabbis who issued it. So too, the ruling has not been countered by the chief rabbis, or by any of the rabbis who guide Netanyahu’s coalition partners. In other words, while Netanyahu may profess outrage, this does seem to be the normative halachic ruling for the State of Israel.
Would 50 Israeli civil servants be so stupid as to piss off all 6 billion goyim on the planet, including over a billion Christians? You betcha!
After all, the Israeli Orthodox establishment has gone to great lengths to alienate 5 million non-Orthodox American Jews. They’ve declared the child of one of our top theologians to not be Jewish; they’ve arrested our religious leaders for the crime of carrying a Torah in public; and they’ve decreed that Sabbath observance is the only defense against forest fires.
They’ve kicked us in the face, and the leaders of American Jewry — the Jewish Federations and the Jewish organizations — did nothing but applaud and defend the government that empowered them. There was no price to pay.
Back in 1988, the Jewish establishment had balls (I’m looking at you, Shoshana Cardin). Yitzhak Shamir was on the verge of forming a coalition with the haredim by giving in to Habad-fomented demands to ammend Who Is a Jew. A high powered delegation of American Jewish machers flew to Jerusalem… and the result was Israel’s first national unity government.
But that was then. Now, not so much noise from American Jewry. No real push-back as the Israeli Foreign Minister announced, at the UN, his plan to remove the citizenship of Israel’s non-Jewish citizens. No, nothing but applause. This disastrous coalition of Lieberman and Ovadia, of racist nationalists and racist fundamentalists, doesn’t offend the American Jewish establishment.
The question is, will American Christians be so forgiving?
The attack ad practically writes itself:
“”My opponent voted to give billions of dollars in foreign aid to a country where government supported clergymen preach hatred toward Christians….”
If AIPAC leaders care about Israel (rather than the Republican party), they might want to look up from their porn and give Bibi a call. Because this time, Bibi’s buddies are playing with fire.
This essay by Rabbi Yehuda Gilad one of the ramim or teachers at Yeshivat Maale Gilboa might actually be a significant development in the slow motion and excruciating implosion of the Israeli Rabbinate. Here’s the punch line:
As important as issues such as kashrut, Shabbat and religious services are, there is currently no Jewish communal matter that comes close to approaching the significance of this challenge upon which our future here as a Jewish state rests. We must admit and say honestly, the current Chief Rabbinate (with all due respect to the many fine individuals who make up its ranks), as an institution, has neither the desire nor the ability to cope with this challenge. Unfortunately, it buries its head in the sand, and even kowtows to the Chareidi community, which is ambivalent at best, and antagonistic at worst to the very state the Rabbinate is meant to serve.
Despite the pain and difficulty involved in breaking with this institution that we had great dreams for, I hereby call upon the lay people and the Rabbis of the religious-Zionist community to say openly what many of us have already felt in our hearts for some time. The Chief Rabbinate has run its course.
Most of the world is perfectly fine with Pamela Anderson taking off her clothes. I admit I am. So are most of the Israeli men oggling her figure while the blond bombshell visits Israel this week as a judge on the Israeli version of ‘Dancing with the Stars.’
One might assume correctly that Israeli Hardeidim would feel otherwise, and indeed when Anderson visited the Kotel she managed to cover herself appropriately enough not to rile its self-appointed guardians.
But Anderson’s agenda in Israel was not limited to television appearances. She is an advocate for PETA’s anti-fur efforts and as luck would have it Israel’s Animal Welfare Law bans the import of real fur products.
The catch? The bill has been stymied by United Torah Judaism’s MK Moses, a Shtreiml-wearing Belzer Hasid. Shtreimls are those funny looking fur hats worn by many men in several hasidic sects. And many a hasid is loathe to set aside their beloved head pelt. So what if its 90 degrees in the shade in Mea Shaarim? It would be sacrilege to shun the shtreiml.
And so it would seem that Anderson’s efforts to try and convince the Haredim holding up the bill to give up their shtreimls are for naught… Doubly so because if anyone is going to avert their eyes and ears from the charms of this shalicha, its Hareidim.
There are of course a multitude of other sorts of fur hats worn as well, notably the spodik, worn mostly by Gerers. The Gerer Rebbe, however, issued a chumra on the purchase of actual fur spodiks, as they are a sign of ostentation. Gerers wear phauz fur spodiks. Say that ten times fast…
So there is precedence of adopting altern-hat-ives among hasidim. If she really wants to get the Hasidim to take off their fur, Pamela should maybe offer up the possibility of dressing tznius all the time… Or better yet, threaten not to and to parade around the Kotel again. The Hareidim would of course have a predictable response, but it might also have an unintended consequence- thousands of Chilonim thronging to the Kotel…
This week brought with it more attempts to vilify Women of the Wall and protect the Western Wall as accessible for ultra-Orthodox prayer exclusively. The Jerusalem Police recommended this week that the Ministry of Justice press charges against Anat Hoffman for the felony of “gravely obstructing a police officer in the performance of his duties”, in regards to her July arrest while holding a Torah at the Western Wall. The sentence for such a conviction is up to 3 years in prison. Members and supporters of Women of the Wall in Israel and abroad stand behind Hoffman, and have been busy sending hundreds of letters and pictures of women holding the Torah to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Head of the Opposition Tzipi Livni, Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky, and Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi in charge of the holy places. In these letters, women from all over the world ask Israeli leaders, “How is it that as Jewish women, we are free in Berlin, in Rome, and in Chicago, while in Jerusalem it is illegal and profane for us to read from the Torah?” Supporters are encouraged to continue to send letters and pictures from the website, womenofthewall.org.il/solidarity/take-a-stand, conveying a clear message to Israel’s leaders that Women of the Wall will not be intimidated or silenced.
In response to Women of the Wall’s twenty year battle to read Torah on the women’s side of the Western Wall, Rabbi Rabinowitz issued a new regulation, giving him sole and complete control over who is permitted to enter the Western Wall Plaza with a Torah. This new dictatorial procedure extends the blockade against entering to the holy site with a Torah to not only women, but also men who might be determined unfit to carry a Torah by the extremist Rabinowitz. Adv. Nira Azriel is preparing a statement on behalf of Women of the Wall to the authorities regarding the unreasonable strictness of the new regulations, which promise to worsen conditions for women even further.
Sometimes I’m so flabbergasted by the news that I can’t even formulate articulate comments of my own.
To wit, this, from Ynet (I have bolded my favorite line of the piece):
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation management has decided to replace the existing partition in the Western Wall plaza, which separates between the women and men’s praying sections, because it does not allow the women worshipers to easily look over to the men’s section.
The foundation received many requests by women who frequent the Wall, claiming that during special celebrations held at the Kotel, such as bar mitzvahs, they are finding it difficult to watch the events through the partition, which is made of iron with small openings, each only a few centimeters wide.
The decision to change the partition was received a long time ago by the foundation management, but was not implemented because they were unable to find a suitable replacement.
One of the solutions suggested by the Western Wall administration was to place one-way mirrors that will enable women to look into the men’s section, similar to the partitions currently in place at the Western Wall tunnels.
After inspecting the area, the administration realized the one-way mirrors lose their effectiveness when they are exposed to the sun, and become visible from both sides.
As a result, the administration decided to examine several other options, including shading the partitions in a manner that will not harm their esthetic look.
Addressing the subject this week, Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich said he was making every effort to replace the partitions in a way that will accommodate the women worshippers on the one hand, and not offend the men worshippers on the other hand. Rabbi Rabinovich noted that he supported the idea of replacing the partitions with one-way mirrors.
“I am advancing the matter due to the obvious need to resolve the existing partition problem. We, the Western Wall administration, will do whatever is needed to enable women who come to the Kotel to watch the daily celebrations, out of a genuine will to improve the visiting experience,” he said.
This is a guest post by Nikki Ralston, Director of Online Communications at Hiddush, a non-profit working to advance religious freedom and equality in Israel.
The mysterious inner workings of Israeli politics can produce some strange bedfellows, or should I say ‘coalition partners’, but the latest push to completely hand over the reins of Judaism and Jewish unity to the haredi establishment might at least make sense if it was coming from a haredi political party like United Torah Judaism or Shas. But why is MK Rotem of Israel Beiteinu trying so vehemently to shove his conversion bill down the throats of Israeli law makers? For those of you scratching your heads asking “Isn’t that the Russian olim party headed by Avigdor Lieberman? Since when do Russian immigrants support religious coercion?”, you’re absolutely right, but Lieberman isn’t the kind of guy who lets his constituents get in the way of his politics.
The majority of Israel Beiteinu voters are Russian-speaking Israelis, a demographic characterized by a strong liberal secular social agenda. Recent Religion and State Index surveys show strong support for religious freedom:
88% of Israel Beitenu voters support ending the Orthodox monopoly on marriage
92% of Israel Beiteinu voters oppose new religious legislation
79% of Immigrants support religious equality for all denominations of Judaism
76% of immigrants oppose ALL religiously coercive legislation
So why is Israel Beiteinu pushing a Conversion Bill that would grant complete monopoly control over conversions to Judaism in Israel to the ultra-Orthodox rabbinate?
It may be that given the ultra-Orthodox coalition partners Israel Beiteinu has to work with, the party is just being pragmatic. Realizing that there is little chance of garnering support for the religious pluralism and separation of religion and state that its voters seek, the party has settled to concentrate on its international/security agenda and leave social issues for later. This is a broken record in Israel. How often have we heard the security situation used as a catch-all excuse for why Israel can’t tackle its pressing internal social issues?
Or maybe the conversion bill is an example of how the need to compromise can mangle what may have started out as a very good bill, meant to truly open up and ease the conversion process and prevent the horrific occurrence of retroactive annulments. I’ll give Rotem and Israel Beiteinu the benefit of the doubt and assume that their original intentions were good. In fact, Rotem’s original 2007 Conversion bill (Hebrew) was indeed a genuine attempt to address the needs of his constituents and find a real solution to help ensure successful integration into Jewish Israeli society. But when Rotem was unable to advance the original 2007 bill due to opposition by haredi parties, he realized the only way was compromise. This compromise spun out of control and eventually turned the bill into a Trojan horse – an anti-conversion bill dressed up as a pro-conversion bill.
According to analysis by Uri Regev, rabbi and jurist, a leading expert and activist for religious freedom, the proposed conversion bill “is the worst and most damaging in the sequence of conversion bills that MK Rotem, who chairs the (Knesset Constitution & Law) Committee, has proposed. It represents an unsavory surrender to the rabbinical establishment and the ultra-Orthodox politicians. The proposal is designed to expand the authority of the Chief Rabbinate and undermine conversions done by the major religious movements within the Jewish people. It pretentiously claims to facilitate easier access to conversion for new immigrants and halt the increasing trend to nullify conversions after the fact, on the grounds of non-observance of commandments. This proposal does not solve the problems faced by new immigrants, and it puts at risk Israel’s strategic interests, by jeopardizing the cooperation and solidarity with Diaspora Jewry. It places Israel on an inevitable collision course with most Jews of the world today – and represents an unfortunate example for highly objectionable legislation. It may have started with good intentions, but after passing through the ultra-religious political mill it has become an appalling bill which must be rejected outright.”
What is clear is that Israel Beiteinu voters, along with the majority of constituents of all the major secular political parties in Israel, oppose religiously coercive legislation and support the recognition of non-Orthodox conversion. This may not help understand how Lieberman’s party became an agent of religious coercion, but it certainly explains why world Jewry is opposing the latest conversion bill so passionately and it looks like PM Netanyahu is getting the message. He announced within 24 hours of the bill passing the Law & Constitution Committee that he would not allow the bill to reach the Knesset plenum. Let’s keep the pressure on by making sure he hears directly from each and every one of us.
Once again Gideon Levy, Haaretz’s intrepid political columnist, has raised an issue which is sure to make him no more friends. To step back a bit, it has always seemed to me that Israelis, especially secular Israelis, but also Religious Zionist Israelis, have enjoyed attacking the haredim (ultra-Orthodox) a bit too much. There is too much vehemence to be explained by the fact that, lets say, they are “parasites” or that they don’t serve in the army and live off the backs of the country, that they discriminate against women. All this is true in whole or in part, yet it does not explain the uniquely passionate animus that is directed toward them, which is not directed toward other segments of society. My theory (which probably won’t garner me any friends either) is that Israeli society cannot abide the fact that the Haredim are a large community of Jewish non-Zionists. I suggest that the reason that so much energy is spent on castigating the haredi world for not serving in the Army—by the same type of people who, if they lived in the United States would accept conscientious objection as a given—is that they forthrightly, perhaps brazenly, declare that they have no share in Zionist ideology.
Gideon Levy gives an example of this in yesterday’s paper (and expands on it in today’s Haaretz, but today’s column is not translated yet–or at least I couldn’t find it on the English site).
The similarity is striking: two insular and arrogant population groups, different and at times peculiar, powerful minorities with authoritative leaders, both with their own laws and norms. The settlers and the ultra-Orthodox – the former is some 300,000 strong, not counting settlers in East Jerusalem, and the latter numbers about 700,000, including Haredi settlers.
The Ashkenazi Haredim treat the Mizrahim abominably. It is racism. But at least it is not violent, like the racism of the settlers toward Palestinians. The Haredim put their women at the back of the bus; the settlers not only bar Palestinians from their buses, but from the entire road at times. The Haredim erect barriers between Ashkenazim and Mizrahim in their schools; the settlers carry out ethnic cleansing under the state’s aegis, like that of 25,000 residents of Hebron.
So who’s the real racist here? Compared to the settlers’ hilltop youth, the yeshiva boys are models of morality. But who gets castigated? The Haredi of course. When will the courts come out against settler racism as they have against Haredi racism? They themselves maintain different systems for penalizing Jews and Arabs. When will we hear about the thousands of fictitious civil service positions held by settlers – a salaried security official in every mobile home – in the same way that we hear about the Haredi parasites? And what about the thousands of soldiers who have to guard the settlers, the superfluous roads that have been built to serve them, the electricity and water supplies laid for illegal outposts? All of it, everything, paid by us, more than we pay for Torah study as a Haredi occupation.
So let’s call this evil by its true name: a double standard. Cowardice works too.
JTA reports that thousands of Hareidim went out to protest today, claiming that racism is – apparently- ordained by God, that -as usual- those nasty Supreme Court people are godless atheists in their insistence that they integrate a school, and that a vote for integration is a vote for “flotilla terrorists.”
Just another day in the life:
You have to give it to them, they certainly stand for Torah and are willing to fight for what they believe in, even if it has nothing to do with anything actually in Torah whatsoever, or if in fact, it opposes Torah altogether. No, no, what they say is Torah, it is Torah.
Why are they protesting? Well, hard to say since the Ashkenazi mothers fail to show for jail term, although 35 Ashkenazi fathers show up for their two week sentence. But as we know, they have the god-given, nay, God-demanded right to segregate their daughters from those nasty Sephardi girls, after all, as one mother pointed out, “The court and media don’t understand that this is another world,” a mother who is keeping her daughter out of school said. “The Hasidic program was created because of a different religious outlook. Only pure children attend it,” and we mustn’t forget that, “No court ruling or Education Ministry decision can bring the two groups together,” an Immanuel resident said Wednesday, “It’s like putting Americans and Africans together. They can’t study together with such huge mental differences,” he said.