Please forgive me for the unforgivable indifference, but I don’t care about what’s happening in Emmanuel. The huge commotion surrounding a religious school in that town belongs to another world, as far as I’m concerned, and not to the State of Israel in 2010.
At this time, my country faces the kind of threats that have not jeopardized it for a generation at least: A nuclear threat from Iran, a missile threat from Lebanon and Gaza, and a socioeconomic threat in the form of social gaps, poverty, and deteriorating education.
I’m simply unable to feel shock over the fact that some haredi students, whose parents characterize them as “Sephardic,” will study or not study in the same classroom with haredi students whose parents characterize them as “Ashkenazi.”
The ridiculous division between “Sephardic” and “Ashkenazi” mostly exists at the margins of haredi society these days, and even there it is gradually disappearing. What a pity that the High Court of Justice intervened in disputes involving various Hassidic sects, while presenting it as a war against racial discrimination.
Spare us the nonsense, honorable judges: This isn’t racism (what does race have to do with it?) Just like your ruling was not “a call for extermination,” as the haredim claim (what does extermination have to do with it?)
Some people say this is a haredi rebellion against the rule of law in the name of religious law. Oh, come on. Israel in 2010 is a blatantly secular state, and the haredi minority within it is undergoing a quiet yet deep process of Israelization and adjustment to modern life.
More than anything, the disproportional response by some Hassidic groups to the High Court’s order to integrate two classes attests to the power of the quiet revolution on the haredi street; a revolution that changes their lifestyle and priorities and will ultimately end up with young haredim joining the workforce.
What will we tell our children?Hence, let economic forces do their thing. It’s really not important where students in Emmanuel or any other community study. What’s important is what they’re being taught in those classrooms.
Will their studies (either integrated or separated) prepare haredi female students to enter the Israeli job market? Will they be given the needed toolkit in order to join a working society? The answers to these questions will affect Israel’s future, and the haredi community’s future.
I recall the days of Shas leader Aryeh Deri’s imprisonment years ago, the tent erected outside the jail by his supporters, the protests in his support, and the statements that this was a constitutive event for Israeli society. Two weeks later, when the first Intifada broke out and the first buses exploded, the tent was dismantled and the protestors dispersed.
Israelis of all “races” again discovered what’s important and what isn’t for our existence here as a people and a state. The order of priority reverted back to normal.
When years from now our children and grandchildren ask what we did while Ahmadinejad built his bomb, Hamas celebrated its victory, and the world’s artists and authors boycotted Israel and questioned its legitimacy, we’ll be able to mutter: We were incredibly preoccupied with the fateful national drama of 12 female students in Emmanuel, and other such nonsense.