Part 2 of article
Shinui’s election success and the fact it delivered on its promise and enabled the formation of a government without haredi parties was a traumatic event for the haredim. For the first time, they discovered the great anger they stir and also suffered its consequences: The Ministry of Religious Affairs was shut down, funds earmarked to yeshivas were limited, and child allowances returned to normalcy.
There is no haredi family that was not hurt by this, and for a moment it appeared that a quiet revolution was getting underway (manifested mostly by women joining the workforce) that will culminate with better integration into Israeli society.
However, they forgot quickly.
Less than four years passed since Shinui’s dissipation, and everything is back to the way it used to be. Shas and Agudat Israeli are again enjoying the perks of power, the Religious Affairs Ministry was reestablished, and the haredi courts abuses converts, as usual.
Meanwhile, Eli Yishai sends embarrassing letters to the president, Ethiopian children are kept out of religious schools because of shocking racism, and members of the Eda Haredit sect launch a series of violent protests in the streets of Jerusalem – first directed against the hospitals that treat them and welfare services that help them, and later in a bid to force seculars to park on the sidewalk rather than in a parking lot.
Just like in the previous round, the haredim are going too far because they believe no reaction will be forthcoming. The seculars appear to them as too weak, too indifferent, and too spoiled; the haredim think the seculars don’t really care. Just like in the previous round, they’re wrong.
Last week I spoke with former Interior Minister Avraham Poraz who told me that his mailbox has also been bombarded in recent months with “when are you coming back?” emails. Poraz is a wise man, who observes developments with the thin smile of a man who already saw everything.
“The haredim prompted the establishment of Shulamit Aloni’s party the same way,” he said. “They always calm down for a few years, and then start over again, and every time they encounter a harsher reaction. I wonder when they’ll learn the lesson.”
This op-ed is not written by an interested party. At best, it represents the views of a protestor. If there are any haredim out there who are reading this, they should know that they can still avert the establishment of the next Shinui.
I am not arguing, heaven forbid, that they must avoid struggles over issues that are important to them. This is the right of every citizen in a democratic state. However, should they continue in the current path – and mostly in the current style – they should not be surprised to see the establishments of the next secular party. They are establishing it with their own hands.