Israel's majority must rise up against radical Haredi minority

Opinion: The leaders of the Haredi community have rewritten the rules of the game, pretending to be the persecuted when they are the persecutors, a radical minority that will continue to ravage Israel's majority until the state is no more

Ben Dror-Yemini|
One day this whole thing will explode. If the political trend of recent years continues, the state of Israel will collapse. It is much easier to understand the "normal" danger of a terrorist attack, for instance, than the risk posed by the ultra-Orthodox sector in the country.
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  • The danger posed by the Haredi community is far more vicious because it's creeping on instead of emerging with a bang. The situation gets worse and worse but there is no explosion.
    5 View gallery
    Ultra-Orthodox and police clash in Jerusalem
    Ultra-Orthodox and police clash in Jerusalem
    Ultra-Orthodox and police clash in Jerusalem
    (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)
    After an uptick in the members of the ultra-Orthodox community joining the job market and enrolling in higher education institutions between 2015 and 2017, the last two years there has been a sudden drop.
    In 2019, only 1,222 ultra-Orthodox enlisted in the military, compared to 2,774 in 2017. Even this stat is not entirely true given that many of those the IDF classifies as "ultra-Orthodox" are merely religious and not actually Haredi.
    When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu served as finance minister during Ariel Sharon's administration, he showed true leadership. He cut state pensions, clarifying to the ultra-Orthodox sector that they cannot keep taking from the state without giving back.
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    Haredi IDF troops praying during service
    Haredi IDF troops praying during service
    Haredi IDF troops praying during service
    But over the past decade, Netanyahu has turned into a different man. Now, the ultra-Orthodox don't even need to threaten him, he rolls over before anyone even utters a word.
    This degenerate relationship extends to many other parts of our society. Kosher certificates, conversion to Judaism, the Chief Rabbinate, the Western Wall and so on.
    We are talking about a rape of the country's majority by the radical minority.
    Judaism has always been a pluralistic religion, with many different sects and movements within it. But, in the Jewish state, there is coercion by the ultra-Orthodox sector.
    The most important arbitrators in Judaism, such as Maimonides [a medieval Sephardic Jewish philosopher who became one of the most prolific and influential Torah scholars], made it very easy for followers when it came to various issues, including conversion. But who is Maimonides compared to two or three "chief adjudicators", forcing radical rhetoric most Jews in Israel and around the world shun away from?
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    בנימין נתניהו יעקב ליצמן
    בנימין נתניהו יעקב ליצמן
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-Health Minister Yaakov Litzman
    (Photo: Amit Shabi)
    They are harmful to Judaism, making the religion seem hateful, which puts away the young people.
    The real problem, however, is the fact that Israel's majority is surrendering to the minority. Even though the ultra-Orthodox are a varied and multifaceted community, talking with them is useless.
    Their leaders have rewritten the rules of the game. The common interest or the prestation of Judaism's heritage means nothing to them. The things that interest them are forcing the majority to bow down to their wants and needs, and continue racking in state funds.
    And now we are beset by the coronavirus pandemic, which so far has not led to a social collapse, but it is the first road marker on the way to it.
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    ביתר עילית
    ביתר עילית
    Illegally opened school in Beitar Illit
    (Photo: Protest of radical Haredim)
    The manner, in which some within the ultra-Orthodox community conduct themselves, has made it crystal clear that endangering livelihoods and wellbeing of all Israelis matters little to them.
    It is not only a "their" problem, but an "our" problem more than anything. If there is a massive outbreak because of their irresponsible behavior, the virus will not only kill worshippers outside the home of Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky in Bnei Brak, but all over the country.
    The minority is rebelling and the majority sits in silence. It is time for that to change.
    Even though my heart goes out to the Haredi community, which is suffering greatly from the pandemic, their leaders are not the prosecuted, they are the persecutors. They pose a danger not only to their community, but to the rest of the country.
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     הרב חיים קניבסקי
     הרב חיים קניבסקי
    Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky
    Israeli-Arabs, for instance, acted with impressive responsibility when there was a massive outbreak in the sector. The same cannot be said about the the ultra-Orthodox rebels. Instead of condemning them, we are crying crocodile tears over them.
    This is the time for our leaders to take advantage of the pandemic and say: the good of all Israelis, including the ultra-Orthodox, is far more important than succumbing to a radical minority.
    We need a new civil contract based on the notion of rights for duties, equal in sharing the social burden and an end to radical religious coercion.
    This must be done as soon as possible, or it will be too late and the ship called the state of Israel will capsize.

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