Assaf Wohl
Photo: Shai Vaknin

We don’t hate haredim

Op-ed: Public not hateful, but rather angry at haredi refusal to contribute to economy, army

The issue of yeshiva student allowances and similar matters pertaining to funds received by the haredi sector always bring up the question of “why do they hate us?” among the ultra-Orthodox. Public anger is always perceived by them as a “wave of incitement,” or often as “anti-Semitism.”


It appears that the haredi public has no ability whatsoever to grasp to-the-point criticism, even when it pertains to outrageous extortion by their representatives. Knesset Member Menachem Moses, for example, recently resorted to the usual comparison between the prime minister and Pharaoh. He later said that money is being taken from the haredim “in order to install cameras that would prevent stabbing attacks at schools,” adding: “What, don’t we pay taxes? We’re funding them!”


I think there is no better way to present the culture of lies and exaggeration adopted by haredi representatives. In Moses’ view, they are indeed facing evil decrees issued by Pharaoh. This is the message which the haredi public receives from its leaders, and it is therefore convinced that it is being victimized by needless hatred.


First I’d like to say that in my view, the phenomenon of hating haredim in and of itself is not common at all. True haredi-haters are rare, as few as the number of Shas members yet to be convicted. While some of my friends despise the haredim, and even feel a sort of pity for them, I discovered that the majority’s feelings can be characterized as “occasional anger.” No more than that.


“Hate” is a term which the haredi public often uses, as does any community subscribing to dogmatic ideology. Everything is black and white, as any sociologist who deals with totalitarian ideologies would know. This is apparently the only way haredim can contain criticism.


Sense of victimization, arrogance

My own anger at least stems from the fact that there is even a need to explain why I’m angry. It’s about living alongside a community that simply cares about nothing beyond its preoccupation with itself (the haredim are of course not the only such group.)


History proves that the haredim cannot exist without the Zionist state. Haredi leaders failed in Hebron and in Europe, escaping to the state established for them by the Zionists with their blood. Now, haredi functionaries would like to exploit as many of the democratic state’s resources, without caring about future implications. This is certainly infuriating. There is no haredi contribution to the economic burden or the price of blood we pay here. All they have is empty debates, victimization, and mostly arrogance.


The haredim should also realize that all their excuses about “charity” and their plethora of associations that help the needy merely boost the sense of anger. Who needs charity? Only those who are involuntarily disabled. And what about voluntarism? One should volunteer in his free time, and not in order to be rewarded. The haredim can go ahead and volunteer after they fulfill all their duties – not instead of them.


The public anger has to do with the fact that haredi functionaries exploit us in order to extort an exemption from the prices the Jewish state has to pay for its existence. And so, the haredim can continue to bargain and debate in line with the finest Talmudic tradition, yet if they are truly and honesty interested in the roots of public anger towards them, here they are.



פרסום ראשון: 01.03.11, 00:18
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