Posts Tagged haredim
Chaim Eckstein thinks that the Tel Aviv municipality has gone too far in not suspending their bike rental service on Yom Kippur:
Suspending the bike rental service on Yom Kippur does not constitute capitulation to the religious community, and it has nothing to do with religious coercion. Why? Because Yom Kippur is not a religious day; it is an Israeli day. It is one of the state’s symbols.
You do not have to observe the Torah and the mitzvahs to deem Yom Kippur a holy day. Even avid seculars fast on Yom Kippur. Even those who regularly eat bacon with cheese feel uncomfortable upon hearing that an Israeli who plays for a European basketball team took part in a game that was held on Yom Kippur. Eat falafel, go to a barbecue but also fast one day a year – this is what it means to be Israeli in modern times.
That may be true, but these avid seculars may also want to ride a bike while they are fasting. Or maybe the 30% of Israelis who are not Jewish may want to ride a bike around Tel Aviv on a day when you can’t really drive. Or perhaps the tens of thousands of tourists that keep the Israeli economy running may want to ride a bike around Tel Aviv on that day.
Either way, who the hell is Chaim Eckstein to tell them they can’t?
This is a VERY welcome development in Israeli politics. Bibi Netanyahu and Shaul Mofaz have agreed to form a unity government instead of going to early elections.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition chairman MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) reached an agreement early Tuesday morning to form a national unity government and cancel early elections, which had been expected to take place on September 4.
Under the agreement, Kadima will join Netanyahu’s government and support its policies in exchange for a commitment that the government will support its proposal for an alternative to the Tal Law, which allows full-time yeshiva students to defer national service.
This was always a strong possibility with a Mofaz-led Kadima — remember that Kadima was formed when Sharon split from Likkud to withdraw from Gaza. Half of the Kadima MKs are Likkudniks and really it was only a matter of time before they joined Likkud in government.
Between them, the two parties have a near majority in their own right. Add Barak’s Atzmeut party and you have what a lot of us have been praying for: a strong, secular, centrist coalition (yep, “praying”).
Getting rid of all the crazies means that Bibi can allow the Tal Law to expire and stop this ridiculous Haredi exemption from contributing to Israeli society. It also means that he will no longer be beholden to Lieberman, which immediately curtails the encroaching Putin-esque antidemocratic reforms from Beitenu and gives space for the opening of markets that the country desperately needs in order to address its numerous economic woes.
Overall, this is the best thing that has happened in Israeli politics since at least 2009. Hopefully it will live up to its potential.
I know I’ve been doing a lot of these recently, but not a day goes by that I don’t read another article that makes me bang my head against the wall and just concede that we failed the whole “Israel” experiment because of ineptitude. Today, there were three:
1. Incentivising settlements
The government is planning to give new incentives to help grow 70 settlements over the Green Line. Sure, it is part of a broader plan to resolve housing issues and yes, it has not yet been given final approval and could still be revoked, but this is still a horrible policy. It is completely the opposite of what the government should be doing (i.e. introducing disincentives for moving to settlements). It is an unnecessary provocation and achieves no positive result at all aside from pandering to a minority of voters who do reliably vote for parties in the government. (Emphasis added).
Around 70 West Bank settlements were on the list of communities eligible for housing and development grants that the cabinet approved on Sunday.
… It was difficult to change the list for political reasons, the official said. “But it is clear that we are aware of the sensitivities when discussing communities over the Green Line,” the official added … Still, in its notice to the press, the Prime Minister’s Office did not mention limitations to the housing incentives, which include money for development costs of up to NIS 150,000 for agricultural communities and NIS 107,000 for cities. Supplementary housing loans of NIS 100,000 are also available.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, “The decision is designed to encourage positive migration to the communities and to assist in finding solutions to ease the housing situation. The decision will also contribute to economically strengthening these communities.”
2. Fighting a cultural war between ministries
As Jeremy Ruden has identified, the Interior Ministry and the Housing Ministry are controlled by the ultra-orthodox Shas party and are giving benefits to the Haredi community. The Communication ministry is controlled by secular Likkud and is making life more difficult for Haredim. The result? A horribly run country.
The first was the controversial proposal put forth by Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Atias from the Orthodox Shas party. The government has authorized the construction of about 5,000 housing units across the country which will be made available at a discount of NIS 200,000 for those who meet certain criteria.
… The benefit is awarded based on a point system which assigns weight to various qualifications. While IDF service is a factor, the number of years a person has been married is more decisive. For example, a 33-year-old religious person who never served in the army and does not work but has been married for 10 years would get considerably more points than a secular person of the same age who served, holds a job but has only been married for four years.
… But there is a flip-side to that coin. The Communication Ministry, under Moshe Kahlon from the Likud, is pushing for a directive which would have a negative impact on Internet Service Providers (ISP) which target or are owned by members of the religious community.
The Communication Ministry is proposing that in order for a company to be granted a license to be an ISP, it must provide manned technical support 24 hours a day, every day of the year, with the exception of Yom Kippur. ISPs serving the Orthodox communities are calling foul, and rightfully so. These companies argue that if they are forced to comply with such a regulation, they will lose their Shabbat-observant customers.
3. Our national identity is: the Holocaust
Merav Michaeli this time, on a recent poll which found that there is more or less a consensus amongst Israelis that remembering the Holocaust is important, whereas they disagree on things like belonging to the Jewish People, remembering Shabbat and living in Israel. In other words, the Shoah stands head and shoulders above Zionism, religion and culture as the thing that keeps the nation together. This is not to say that remembering the Shoah is unimportant, but it is very negative for it to form the basis of the identity of the entire nation.
I don’t agree with all of Michaeli’s pseudo-psychological analysis of Israeli identity, but she makes some very good points (emphasis added):
The survivors themselves have never been treated right. Just yesterday it was reported, once again, that half of Israel’s Holocaust survivors are dependent on welfare stipends and that the government has once again reduced its support of them.
At the same time, the “Hitlers” are always there: Just a week ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said for the nth time that there is no shortage of those who want to exterminate us completely. In other words, there is no lack of reasons to continue to reinforce the fear of the Holocaust – which, according to his father, historian Benzion Netanyahu, has never ended.
So it is that we don’t have any rivals, adversaries or even enemies. Only Hitlers. This is how the Holocaust is taught in school, this how it is that Israeli students are taken to visit death camps – and how it came to be that, as Haaretz reported on Friday, just 2 percent of Israeli youth feel committed to democratic principles after studying the Holocaust and 2.5 percent identify with the suffering of other persecuted nations, but 12 percent feel committed to “significant” service in the Israel Defense Forces.
As I have covered before, the Arab world has recently been going through a cultural gender-identity crisis as the backwards and oppressive thinking that pervades the region is taking a growing economic toll. The principal opposition to modernising Arab culture in general comes from political Islamists who genuinely idealise a 7th Century way of living, although they do allow special dispensation for some of the 21st Century’s developments (mostly its weaponry). Sadly, unlike most other unsavoury trends in the region, this wave of intolerance that is sweeping the Middle East is not passing over the doors of the Children of Israel.
Following on from this story about the High Court ruling against the forced separation of men and women in public streets, it seems that the Haredi community are continuing to champion the “Apartheid Israel” label and fiercely battling to keep the fairer sex off the airwaves and at the back of buses. I kid you not.
Religious IDF soldiers also refused to listen to women singing at an army event because of a prohibition within Jewish law of listening to women sing in person.
A complaint was submitted to the broadcasting authority about the exclusion of women on the haredi radio station Kol Berama, and the issue of gender-segregated buses in haredi neighborhoods has also not been resolved.
[MK Tzipi] Hotovely made her comments during the first-ever hearing of the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women into the issue, initiated by MK Einat Wilf (Independence).
“The committee… sees the exclusion of women as apartheid which contradicts the values of the state of Israel and Jewish law,” Hotovely said. “We have to fight this phenomenon of radicalization that is being expressed through the exclusion of women [in public life], because it seriously injures [the rights] of women and society as a whole.”
… The committee said that it would be asking that Egged and the Transportation Ministry provide within three months a document detailing any occurrences in which the ruling of the Supreme Court outlawing gender segregation on buses is infringed.
MK Orit Zuaretz (Kadima) was also present at the hearing and further proposed that Egged demand that its drivers complete a form whenever any incident of segregation occurs.
Oh, and I’ll add to that: off billboards.
Jerusalem’s secular mayor, Nir Barkat, has pitted himself against the city’s swelling ranks of ultra-orthodox extremists by demanding that local police enable women to reclaim their position in the public domain.
Over recent months, women’s faces have disappeared from billboards across the city amid mounting pressure applied by the powerful ultra-orthodox lobby, who find the female image offensive.
Several advertisers have erased female models from their posters in Jerusalem. Elsewhere in Israel, the winter campaign of Israeli clothing brand Honigman features a model cosily dressed in winter knits. In the capital, the woman’s head has been removed from the image, leaving just her arm and a handbag.
This kind of thing has no place in Israel. It’s backwards, it’s harmful to society as a whole and, most of all, it’s un-Jewish. This stems from an insular and extreme community that is more than happy to piggyback off the rest of society when they receive their welfare cheques, but otherwise do everything that they possibly can to isolate themselves (many of them are not even Zionists). Fortunately, some are speaking out. Here’s haredi Rabbi Chaim Amsalem explaining why the encroaching gender Apartheid is un-Jewish.
Let me begin by making a clear and loud declaration for all to hear: There is absolutely no basis in Jewish law for the separation of men and women on buses or public streets.
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, the greatest Orthodox halachic authority of the 20th century, made this very clear in his responsa, where he ruled that there was no problem with riding the New York subway, where men and women are often pressed together in very tight quarters. This applies all the more so when simply sitting in close proximity on a bus.
Aside from the fact that Jewish law certainly allows men and women to sit together on the bus or walk on the same side of the street, there is actually a specific halachic transgression that occurs when such extreme actions are taken … even according to the warped understanding that Jewish law does mandate the separation of men and women in these circumstances, there would certainly be no justification for demeaning a woman by forcing her to move to the back of the bus.
Granted, Jewish law does mandate the separation of men and women during prayer and specific other times, but nothing beyond that. The Torah opens society to women and cautions that it is the man’s responsibility not to “stray after your eyes.”
But this isn’t just about buses. This is about growing extremism in the haredi world, part of which includes the demonization of women.That is the reason in certain neighborhoods the Clalit healthcare fund has stopped giving children stickers with pictures of little girls on them, and the reason some haredi newspapers will not print pictures of women. Some go as far as doctoring photos in order to remove women in adherence of this policy.
… Right at the beginning of Creation, the Torah says God created one being in the following way: “Male and female He created them.”
If there was only one being, why does the Torah say “them” and describe it as both “male and female”?
The Talmud explains that God fashioned an original being which embodied both male and female characteristics and then separated that one being into two. Why? Why didn’t He make them into separate male and female beings from the start?
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, one of the most prominent Orthodox rabbis of the 19th century, explained as follows: “So that what was previously one creature was not two, and thereby the complete equality of women forever attested [to].”
… But our tradition goes even beyond demanding equality.The Talmud teaches that the Jews were redeemed from slavery in Egypt due to the merit of Jewish women, and that the women did not worship the golden calf or believe the negative report of the spies about Israel. Our salvation in the Hanukka and Purim stories came because our women rose to the occasion. According to our tradition, women have binah yeteira – an increased ability to understand and comprehend. That quality has saved the Jewish people throughout history.