We won’t turn the other cheek

Lawyer’s slap to religious MK represents secular society’s hatred, prejudice towards haredim

My ears are still ringing from the slap given to MK Ya'acov Cohen Tuesday, in the name of every haredi, wherever he may be. A slap against his views, values and faith, which go against the worldview of Muhammad Ali’s heir at the Justice Ministry. In a chilling timing, this whole incident took place only 15 days before Tisha B’Av, which marks the destruction of the Temple, the source for all the troubles that have been haunting us for the last 2000 years.


The exchange of words between the two appears to me to have been delusional, aggressive and out of order. But, like I teach my little son, even when you’re very angry you do not hit someone else. Unfortunately, what is clear and obvious to a five-year-old is not clear to the attorney appointed by the State on enforcing law and order, who allows himself to hand out slaps to public officials when the debate heats up.


It is ironic that a lawyer who presumes to understand what good education is gives an “example” and makes it clear to all those who may have had a doubt about what kind of education he got and what it’s worth. Amnon De Hartog, the representative of integrity, truth and justice aims to “shape things up” among the haredim and cut funding to their entire education system. The man doesn’t approve of the fact that at some of the boys’ education institutions, the curriculum will not include the exact components of the digestive system, while I still find it hard to digest his own behavior.


Waiting for another destruction  

Back to Tisha B’Av. I know that comparing between then and now is extremely trite, but it appears that history continues to repeat itself after all. The hatred of ‘the Other’ fills us like poison, and destroys each good place with pure evil. The Temple, the source of all good, the core of the Jewish people, was not destroyed because the worshippers chose Roman and Assyrian paganism over God. It was destroyed because we as a people ruined ourselves. That same hatred has already destroyed us once, but we fail to learn the lesson, and wait for everything to crumble down once again.


With his haredi outfit and Yiddish accent, MK Cohen represents exactly what every Israeli hates, even without ever exchanging one word with him. There is no end to stereotypes.


Worst of all is the fact that even after all the excuses people give themselves for hating haredim disappear, the hatred will remain. I find this truth the most hard to deal with.


No end to prejudice  

De Hartog’s slap took me back to the teary eyes of a colleague several years ago. After doing full army service, both he and his wife were working, paying taxes and being “productive citizens” according to every criterion. And still he experiences the hatred, the humiliating and degrading treatment, the arrogance towards the “primitive haredi” because of his dress and looks. He’s only one of many who go through this every day.


How much evil, prejudice and distortions can a public stand?


What MK Cohen said in rage was the essence of the Jewish experience in the world. It’s the spirit that’s important. The parent has the right to determine what his children learn in school. A parent who wants to leave the non-religious studies to the age of 20, as many in the religious public do, is entitled to do so. And no you, Amnon, or anyone else, are not allowed to slap him for this.


The haredi public is very protective of his children, and for a good reason. He will fight for the principle of the spirit, as he did in Masada and in medieval Europe. If it wasn’t for them and their bravery, where would we be today? The painful answer is that we would have been extinct, like the Moabites, the Canaanites and the ancient Egyptians. The inappropriate words were not said out of disrespect for the Holocaust, which I think also claimed the lives of many of Cohen’s family.


So people, we are 15 days away from Tisha B’Av and the clock is ticking. Tell me when will this ancient hatred die and we shall be free at last?


פרסום ראשון: 07.11.07, 16:13
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