Haredim in Beit Shemesh
Photo: AP

Time to say goodbye

Op-ed: Haredi-secular relationship in Israel a lost cause, time has come for full separation

The ties between seculars and haredim in Israel can be likened at this time to the relationship of a married couple who after long years of tension reached the end of the road.


Regrettably, the only practical solution is separation, and the earlier the better. After all compromise efforts failed, the threat of violence hovers above us. The mutual incitement reached such levels that soon enough we shall see a hothead (and there are plenty of those on both sides) undertaking a terrible act.


The separation between seculars and haredim already exists in all walks of life and is not new. The haredim have a separate education system that does not adhere to even the most basic core studies; they travel in segregated bus where women sit at the back; they marry each other, don’t serve in the army, don’t work and don’t pay taxes. None of them would dare drink a glass of water in my house.


Indeed, we are all Jewish. Yet aside from this highly flexible title, what else do we have in common?


The abyss between the two camps merely got deeper over the years. The haredim got stuck in the past, in an ancient world that is all about bans, threats and boycotts. Even their dress code was stuck somewhere in medieval Europe. Meanwhile, the seculars moved forward with the rest of the world and removed all barriers, while being carried on the waves of enlightenment and technology.


Sad but irreversible

Indeed, not all haredim are like that. Only last week I spent an evening with some good friends from Chabad. We drank beer, ate chips and laughed together about all the nonsense that is supposed to keep us apart. However, these friends, and the Chabad movement in general, are the exception that does not reflect the rule.


And so, in a place where moderation and fraternity were supposed to win, radicalism again triumphed. Instead of unity, the time for separation shall come now: The haredim will dig in even deeper with their neighborhoods, bus routes and newspapers and we shall withdraw into ours.


Churchill once characterized the English and the Americans as two nations divided by a common language. While we used to be one people once upon a time, a moral dispute that can no longer be bridged split us into two cultures in practice. It is indeed sad, but apparently it is also irreversible.



פרסום ראשון: 01.03.12, 01:37
 new comment
This will delete your current comment