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Shas leaders Yishai and Deri Photo: Gil Yohanan
Shas leaders Yishai and Deri Photo: Gil Yohanan
 
 

Best of both worlds

Op-ed: Ultra-Orthodox parties cry 'Gevalt!' now that they are treated like any other player in political arena

Aviad Kleinberg
Published: 03.04.13, 20:45 / Israel Opinion

”There are boycotts of an entire public in the State of Israel, and that does not match my views,” the prime minister stated at the President's Residence. From Netanyahu's comments we can assume that refusing to join a coalition that includes the haredi parties is not a legitimate political move, but a "boycott of an entire public."

 

This is an odd claim when it refers to the ultra-Orthodox parties. If there is a world in which boycotting and slander is a way of life – it is the haredi world. In this world, not only does the wolf not live together with the lamb, the hasid does not live with the Lithuanian, Ashkenazi Jews do not live with Sephardic Jews and Satmar hasidim do not live with Belz hasidim. In this world, the others' schools and daughters are not kosher. And the seculars? They eat nevelot and terefot, desecrate Shabbat in public and are accompanied by prostitutes (the haredi term for secular women who dress and behave "immodestly").

 

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These people are not "kosher" enough do anything, apart from transferring money to the haredim of course. To get their hands on this money, the representatives of the haredi public are willing to overcome their contempt and sit in the Knesset with seculars (the Sephardic ultra-Orthodox also join the coalition; for the Ashkenaz haredim this is still too difficult). In order to receive State funds, the haredi lawmakers are willing to take time off from their Torah studies and sit in the plenum, where women dress immodestly and make their voices heard in public.

 

What won't they do? They are not willing to accept the worldview of the legitimate majority. The cultural and social boycott of the majority is a way of life in the haredi community. This does not mean that they cannot hold negotiations with the evil ones. They can, and they do; because there is no political boycott.

 

If there is one thing the haredim cannot be accused of, it is having respect for the other's worldview, beliefs and needs. They demand everyone else's respect as the (sole) representatives of the Torah, but they do not have to respect anyone else in return. They have a right to meddle in every affair under the sun, while others are forbidden from intervening in their affairs.

 

This isolationist and condescending outlook of haredi society in Israel could have been its own business had it not chosen to run our affairs as well. The Amish in the US are just as isolated, but at least they do not ask to head Congress' Budget Committee in order to transfer huge sums of money to their communities.

 

The ultra-Orthodox in Israel chose the political arena because they want to enjoy the best of both worlds. Now that there is a possibility that they will be treated like any other player, they yell "Gevalt! A community in Israel is being boycotted!" But this is not true. No one is boycotting the haredi community. The ultra-Orthodox public enjoys many rights, and even those who do not want them in the coalition are not trying to marginalize them, but rather to drag them towards the center. Opposing a political agenda is not akin to a boycott.

 

The prime minister is not really shocked by the "boycott of an entire public." For years Netanyahu and his associates have been boycotting the Arab public, and no one says a thing. What really "doesn't match" the worldview of Bibi and Sara Netanyahu is Naftali Bennett, not the so-called boycott. They'll get over it eventually. And so will the haredim.

 

 

 

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