Friday, July 17, 2009

Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem – Against Haredim

Cooler heads have prevailed, and the Haredi mother who allegedly starved her youngest child, has been released from police detention and sent into "house arrest." Her arrest set off big Haredi riots against police, burning trash, smashing things, etc.

I tend to distrust news reports about Haredim the same way I distrust news reports about Palestinians; both are hated sectors in Israeli society (though the haredim that participate in the state are much more privileged.) The woman's cause has been taken up by the non-Zionist Edah Haredit (though not officially) and anti-Zionist Neturei Karta (a group that exists, in Israel, mostly on paper; I doubt that there are more than a couple of hundred "card-carrying" members. ) Some of the more active protesters have come from the Toledot Aharon hasidim; I can't remember which branch.

Why is this happening now? It is an interesting combination of many factors. First, there is the ultra-Haredi distrust of the secular state, its social service agencies, and its law enforcement; second, the omnipresent feelings of victimization; third, the resentment over the secular mayor's decision to keep a parking garage open on the Sabbath (and their subsequent failure to stop it); fourth, the failure over stopping the Gay Rights parade; fifth, the confidence that you can get away with rioting against Jewish police; sixth, the belief that the arrest is bogus because the child has cancer (denied by the hospital) and the mother was taking care of her child.

Oh, and seventh, it's vacation time for yeshiva bachurim, and it's hot outside. Those of us who have lived in Jerusalem for a long time and remember the Shabbat wars over the road to Ramot, Bar-Ilan street, the archeological digs, etc, will recall that protests of this sort are a summer activity.

Today's Haaretz editorialized against the municipality's decision not to collect trash from the Haredi neighborhoods. They called it "collective punishment," and they were right. Of course, with a ex-Kadimah mayor, collective punishment comes easy.

I have been hearing from my modern orthodox/religious Zionist friends, Haredi-bashers, that they are particularly offended that the anti-Zionist Neture Karta has been involved. I have heard more than one person saying, "Why do we let those guys stay here anyway? Let's ship them to Gaza or Iran, where they consort with the enemies of Israel." (Of course, it is a tradition in this country to kick out people who were living here before the Zionists came.)

But seriously, the whole episode raises questions about the level of "inter-vtribal" hate and intolerance. A liberal society cannot tolerate rioting, but a smart society can try to figure out how to negotiate so that it doesn't come to that. Being right doesn't mean being smart.

No more protests until…tomorrow, when the parking garage opens. Let's keep our fingers crossed that nothing else major happens until the 1st of Elul, when the vacation is over.


David L. said...

Jerry-The charedi rioters are an effrontery to law and order and decent society. The state has a moral responsibility to use every means at its disposal to surpress this insurrection. Personally, I would re-institute corporal punishment and slap the hot heads in the pillory.

Anonymous said...

I guess this could fairly be called trolling, but I'm curious and blogging anonymously kind of begs the question--do your "modern orthodox/religious Zionist friends" know how you feel about Israel?

JES said...

Of course, with a Likud mayor, collective punishment comes easy.

Nir Barkat is not Likud!

Jerry Haber said...

I changed it. Ex-Kadimah, Likud, Labor, it's all the same.

JES said...

I changed it. Ex-Kadimah, Likud, Labor, it's all the same.

Sorry Jerry. Nir Barkat isn't ex-Kadima either! Did you even vote in your municipal elections?

Jerry Haber said...


"Jerusalem opposition leader Nir Barkat said Thursday that he was “certainly planning” to bolt the ruling Kadima Party if the government does not take the issue of Jerusalem off the agenda of peace talks with the Palestinians."

That makes him "ex-Kadimah"

And no, I did not vote because I was out of the country. But I would not have voted for him because of his rightwing politics on Jerusalem. I know that a lot of the secularists and modern orthodox supported him, but his shenanigans in East Jerusalem are what worried -- and worry -- me. Give me a haredi mayor over that any day of the week.

JES said...

Hey Jerry, when you're right you're right!

So now that we know which parties you don't support, perhaps you could tell us which you do identify with?

Lars Shalom said...

keep fighting