Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Haredi Dictatorship


Most of my time after making Aliyah in June 2000, I have been spending in Jerusalem. Even some years before I used to live in Israel's capital. But have I ever felt suppressed by the Haredim ? My answer is NO.

As soon as I live in a non - haredi area, no one is telling me what to do, what to eat, what to wear or how to behave. Not even in a mainly national religious neighbourhood such as Kiryat Moshe. In 1997, I was living in the haredi part of Ramot (Aleph) for a bit more than half a year. Even there, some of our neighbours were secular. I admit that the majority of the neighbours were Haredim but some people in the neighbourhood were not. We all lived together and no one demonstrated, screamed or said a word.

If you live in secular Rehavia, French Hill, Talpiot, Arnona or whatever, religious and non - religious Jews do get along. However, if I as a Haredi decide living in a mostly secular neighbourhood I do have to be prepared to suffer from loud radio music or TV noise on Shabbat. As soon as I go as a non - Haredi into one of the stricter haredi neighbourhoods I do have to behave. Not that anyone is standing behind me with a baseball bat; actually some secular do walk around immodest or whatever while passing haredi areas.
Usually such a person does not suffer from any bad remarks. It can happen but most of the time it does not.

So, why did a group of secular left - wing Israelis demonstrate against the Haredim last night ? The demonstration was obviously organized by Israel's weirdo left - wing party MERETZ and the participant claimed that the Haredim want to take over Jerusalem. Maybe turn it into Teheran.

Are those demonstrators right ?

First of all, I assume that half of the gay parade participated in the demonstration. Let alone other seculars who just hate Haredim but, at the same time, have no clue about haredi society.
On the one hand, those demonstrators are right. The demonstrations against INTEL are unnecessary, as plenty of other companies work on Shabbat. Why only INTEL ?
I do see the haredi point but they will not get a good press or make any positive impression by screaming "Schabbes, Schabbes !"

Nevertheless, someone making claims such as "haredi dictatorship" etc. should first of all learn about haredi society. A basic fact is that secular Jews and their generations are fading away. You want to live a liberal assimilated life ? Do so but take a look into your future.
Look at your grandchildren maybe marrying one of those kids from Israel's foreign workers. Jews marrying Gentiles and thus loosing any identity, history and religion. Is this the modern way of life today ? Do I have to give up my entire Jewish being in order to fulfill my strive for freedom ?

How does my freedom look ? First I am happy and released but after a while especially those beloved Gentiles point at me and call me "Jew". Do I then know what "Jew" means ?

On the other hand, the haredi population of Jerusalem can not stipulate the rules in the city. So far, all of us have been living together. Everyone in his neighbourhood without too much intruding. Of course, there are demands for kosher busses etc. However, Jerusalem consists of many different Jews and one society has no right to tell the other how to behave. Neither the Secular nor the Haredim. The whole situation definitely shows us the lack of understanding each other. The Haredim identify the Secular with gay parade, pork, immodesty and drugs.
The Secular see only fanatism in the Haredim. They do not join the army, drive us mad, demonstrate and live somewhere in the Middle Ages.

I have no solution to offer. Those hating Haredim will continue doing so and those Haredim calling the secular life "empty" will continue doing so. A solution always working in Jerusalem is getting to know each other on a daily basis. A secular guy is helping a haredi mother and her baby carriage onto a bus, for instance. Suddenly the haredi woman sees the Secular as a Jew but not as an ignorant junkie.

Jerusalem is not as bad as its "intolerant" reputation. What always made us Jews stick together, no matter what, were wars and other catastrophes. I am not saying that we always need a disaster happening in order to get along. However, sometimes it does look so. What we do need on both sides it more respect for each other. I am not crying out for the Haredim respecting the gays, for instance. But despite the gay behaviour, those people are still Jews and Jews are responsible for each other.

Link in Hebrew:

Rabbi Menachem Porush against the secular demonstartions in Jerusalem


  1. Well you could have gone like I did and seen for yourself. I don't personally care what a person's sexual orientation is unless I'm dating them, so it really didn't interest me how many people in the crowd were gay or straight, but I did only see one rainbow flag compared to many more posters (you can see the photos at Ynet), Israeli flags or Jerusalem municipal flags, t-shirts, and stickers.

    Why did I demonstrate? I demonstrated against Haredi violence, and that the police don't arrest violent demonstrators, or if they do, they aren't put on trial. If the Haredi protests against Intel, Carta, the mother who was accused of abuse, etc. were peaceful I would not have gone.

    I also include in the list of offenses for which a person should be arrested, charged, tried, and convicted calling a policeman "Nazi", something I have seen happen myself at Carta numerous times.

  2. B"H

    To be honest:

    I didn't know the Chilonim were planning a demonstration. :-)

    Concerning haredi violence:
    It looks like the police (municipality) are letting the arrested Haredim go because there is a kind of a deal. If they kept them under arrest, more fuel would be put into the flames.

    I read a comment on Ynet today where someone stated that he would kick out all Satmar, Neturei Karta and Belz out of Israel. I found that rather amuzing because the Belzer have absolutely nothing to do with Satmar or the NK. Just the opposite because the Belzer do not take part in the demonstration nor do they support them.

    Consider it all as political. Barkat can not risk too much more, as he has already done. Each side is looking for ways out and compromises. But among the haredi Mea Shearim society there is a new trend of "I am being better and stricter than all the others". Call it competition.

    As long a the Secular don't bother the Haredim, they won't bother the Secular.

  3. I agree with Warren, and it was reported that many were protesting against the violence. If I were there I would have demonstrated myself. Violence is unacceptable.

  4. B"H

    Did the protest help anything ?

    However, I can tell you that Israeli haredi websites did report about the demonstration and discussed the issues. Maybe more than the participants of the demonstration would have expected.

    The opinions went into two directions:

    1. The demonstrators are right. At least in certain ways.

    2. They are wrong !

    I think by calling it haredi violence, it certainly misses the point. When you look at the Litvish or groups from the Agudah, they were against any violence and did not participate at all.

    No one wants those violence but Jerusalem was, is and will be always full of tensions. Especially among the haredi world itself.

  5. So your readers say they are against violence--then why are they not complaining about the leftists who join the arabs in attacking IDF every week? Or the stupid women who are out there harassing them till they are afraid to do their job--endangering their lives as well as lives of the rest of us. I don't condone violence either, but it is just a cheap shot to single out one group.

  6. B"H

    I see the whole Meretz demonstration as a PR - show. Lets be honest, who is talking about the demonstration today ? No one.
    And it wasn't the first of this kind anyway, as they have already demonstrated a few months ago.

  7. Lets be honest, who is talking about the demonstration today ?

    If I'm not mistaken, you are.

  8. B"H

    That's right. Answering comments.

  9. First MW writes:
    "However, I can tell you that Israeli haredi websites did report about the demonstration and discussed the issues".
    And then some coments later:
    "who is talking about the demonstration today ? No one"
    The same person stating opposite opinions. To me it looks a little confusing.

  10. B"H

    The haredi press was discussing the demonstration on the day after. Two days later, the subject was finished.

    However, yesterday a haredi site showed its outrage over a graffiti one of the demonstartors had drawn on a wall downtown Jerusalem.