Sunday, December 25, 2011

Anti-Charedi, not Anti-Semitic

On Shabbos, I was at an informal kiddush, and a neighbor of mine got up to speak. Before I report what ensued, let me say that he is a really, really, terrific person - idealistic, dedicated to helping people, great personality, and I really like him - notwithstanding what ensued.

I can't remember the Chanukah tie-in, but he somehow got onto the topic of the inconsistency of Hillary Clinton criticizing Israel's oppression of women via Charedim, when Saudi Arabia beheaded a woman and Clinton remained silent. Okay, I can hear that this is a reasonable case for alleging antisemitism.

But he then moved on to the topic of Ramat Bet Shemesh Gimmel, the new, huge neighborhood being constructed a few hundred yards from where I sit. He claimed that anyone who is against the Charedim taking over RBS-Gimmel is an antisemite who hates Torah and mitzvos.

That was the part where some of us got into an argument with him.

I won't record the entire discussion, but the main part went essentially like this:

Us: Why is it unthinkable to be against the Charedi takeover of RBS-Gimmel? The Charedi population pays much less in city taxes, they cause many non-Charedim to end up leaving Bet Shemesh, and they enable kanna'us such as harassing children, stoning buses, and placing restrictions on businesses in the area (e.g. no tables outside pizza stores, placards insisting on dress codes)!

Him: They have a democratic right to live their lives the way that they want to!

Us: First of all, to the extent that they do have such a right, we equally have a legitimate right to oppose such changes to the city in which we live. Second, what kind of "democratic right" are you referring to, in their dictating to businesses how to operate?

Him: They just tell businesses that if they don't co-operate, they will lose customers.

Us: No they don't! They threaten them with the store being trashed!

Him: Well, all that stuff is just a handful of crazy people.

Us: But it's in Charedi towns that such people have power!

Him: Well, it's just because the mayor and other charedim are afraid of the kanna'im; they don't really support them.

Us: Agreed! But since the end result is that in charedi towns, kanna'us effectively takes place, why isn't it legitimate to be against a town becoming charedi?

Him: Look, if a bunch of secular women wearing nothing but bikinis came to use our shopping center, wouldn't you be in favor of having them <i>physically</i> thrown out?

Us: No... and how exactly is that relevant?

Him: A Beis Din has the power to physically inflict lashes of someone who sinned in the privacy of their home!

Us: ??!!! What's that got to do with harassing little girls for wearing short sleeves?

Him: Well, that's just a few lunatics who should be thrown in prison. Anyway, it's a minor issue that affected one school, there's no general charedi problem like that. You don't see problems like that in Beitar.

Us: In Beitar, some people tried to build a gym for teenagers to work out their energy in a healthy way, and the extremists had it shut down on the grounds that it was Hellenism!

And so on, and so forth. And we didn't even get on to the economic issue, of how the charedi population has a very large proportion of people who do not work and thus result in the city being poorer, with its multitude of effects on everyone else.

What struck me is that this is a nice, normal guy, and a great mechanech, but to whom The Charedi Cause is so important that he can't bring himself to see how other frum Jews might have a legitimate reason to be against the direction that Bet Shemesh and Ramat Bet Shemesh have been taking in the last few years.

(See too this post at Life in Israel)

54 comments:

  1. He may be a nice guy, a terrific guy, a baal chessed, etc, but he's also a fool.

    However, despite being foolish, he's correct. Charedim cannot live with others, there is no way for them to bring up their children the way they prefer in a mixed environment. Therefore most Charedim have to live in separate cities where they can prevent their children from seeing frum people living in ways different than they are teaching them to live. It's sad, but it's a fact.

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  2. This is why I live in a small community - these nutjobs don't come to visit very often.
    The "circle the wagons" instinct is very strong in the Chareidi community. Add a helathy sense of denial and you can see why you should have stuck with the kugel instead of arguing.

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  3. Sounds "lively". (Glad I had another kiddush to go to!)

    I take a middle position here. If there is a "charedi takeover" of RBS-gimmel, AND this translates to a lower quality of life for me and my family, we will pick up and move.

    But I'd rather do that than be part of a campaign that effectively says to fellow Jews, "We don't want your kind around here" - be they secular, religious, black hat, no hat, bikini-clad or gartle-clad.

    So while I agree with many of the criticisms leveled against the charedi world (and personally prefer a more "relaxed" environment in which to situate my family), I have to agree with the speaker here. Charedim have to live somewhere, and if it turns out to be my backyard, then gey gezunt!

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  4. This places the moderates of the Haredi community on the spot:
    Do they view the extremists as a disgrace or do they view the as "people who mean well but just go a little too far".
    If this fellow is really representative of the "moderates" then it would seem that most moderates are of the second type which means they DO sympathize with the extremists. This has important consequences...it means that there really is no grounds for having a dialogue with them since they don't really grant any legitimacy to our positions, their taking a "moderate" position merely for pragmatic reasons but in actuality waiting for a good opporunity to impose the hard-line position on everyone.

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  5. "They just tell businesses that if they don't co-operate, they will lose customers."

    At which point, I would ask him whether destroying the livelihood of someone is legitimate under halacha, especially when the business is not violating any halacha but just has a different opinion.
    I'm still waiting to see the מצוה of הוכח תוכיח performed properly. (See the Rambam on how rebuking is to be done.) Rather the coercive tools of the non-Torah world are employed. Whether it's riots, boycotts, vandalism, bans, pashkevilim and other methods not mentioned anywhere in our mesorah these people flagrantly violate halacha in the name of יראת שמים. Where did these people pick up such חכמת יונית? And how dare they lecture these businesses on יהדות? Let them "return the cave" and stop "destroying My world!"

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  6. "Charedim have to live somewhere, and if it turns out to be my backyard, then gey gezunt!"

    If you can afford to pack up and leave every few years, you must be doing pretty well. "Abi gezunt" indeed!

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  7. I should add that I strongly object to the speaker's alleged language - that a person who is against the charedization of RBS is an "antisemite who hates Torah and mitzvos". Clearly, it's the Charedi communal norms, atmosphere and problems which these people dislike - not the Torah and mitzvot aspect per se.

    This statement would be like saying about one who opposes secularization of community X, that they "hate roads, classical music and public services". Clearly it's not THOSE aspects of the secular world the person objects to!

    If you can afford to pack up and leave every few years, you must be doing pretty well. "Abi gezunt" indeed!

    Does that mean you agree that saying to another Jew, "We don't want your kind here" is objectionable, only we have to say it for monetary reasons?

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  8. I completely agree with you. I'd also like to add a note in response to your friend's argument that "they don't do that in Beitar." They have no reason to do that in Beitar because Beitar is virtually all haredi. The reason Beitar is virtually all haredi is that in the early years of its existence, non-haredim were harassed and vandalized until most of them left. When the government attempted to open a non-haredi school, it was picketed until it closed - I'm not sure if there was any violence involved, but there was certainly intimidation. Also, for years, Beitar had a self-appointed vaad haichlus which took upon itself, without objection from the chief rabbis, to decide who could and could not move to Beitar. Naturally, non-haredim (and many haredim who were not "frum" enough in their eyes) were on the "could not" list. So, if your friend wants to use Beitar as an example, I think we should agree that Beitar is a great example - a great example of a community keeping out undesirable elements through extra legal means, and a greater example of haredi hypocracy.

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  9. Reading about the "sin'as chinom" from the ultra's in Israel, I must confess that I'm thrilled to live in a mid size city in Chutz la' Aretz.
    Starting from the Chilonim who respect the religious, the Mizrachi who get along with the right wingers & the chassidim with the "yeshivishe", one can literally feel Achdus in our community.
    This is one thing the chareidim have to look for guidance from the Diaspora Jews.

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  10. http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/israel-police-called-nazis-after-removing-beit-shemesh-sign-ordering-exclusion-of-women-1.403538

    the nazi thing is so ironic.
    KT
    Joel Rich

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  11. "Does that mean you agree that saying to another Jew, "We don't want your kind here" is objectionable, only we have to say it for monetary reasons?"

    No, I mean that non-haredim and tolerant haredim should not have to accept that they will be forced to "move on" should vocal and obstreperous haredim move in to an area.

    We need to be more intolerant of intolerance. Prosecute violators. Live and let live, or else, if you will.

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  12. "Reading about the "sin'as chinom" from the ultra's in Israel, I must confess that I'm thrilled to live in a mid size city in Chutz la' Aretz.
    Starting from the Chilonim who respect the religious, the Mizrachi who get along with the right wingers & the chassidim with the "yeshivishe", one can literally feel Achdus in our community.
    This is one thing the chareidim have to look for guidance from the Diaspora Jews."

    Or you know, they could just look the numerous cities in Israel that are this way as well.

    In the place I live, we have every time of Jew, Druze, Arab christians, Arab Muslims, and Members of the Southern Lebonese army all living next door to eachother.

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  13. "(and many haredim who were not "frum" enough in their eyes) "

    I know some people who live in Beitar who are not particularly charedi, and certainly are vocally against many of the actions of the thugs. (They even own a TV)

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  14. Maybe someone can explain to me why the rock throwing and violence is not stopped by the government? If, instead of Charedim, those were Arabs throwing rocks ( I am referring to the article referenced by R. Waxman) the police and army would be out en force! Jew on Jew violence is WORSE! While I doubt anyone will be able to change Charedi views on tolerance, pluralism and diversity... at the very least citizens and the media have the right, in a freely democratic society, to walk the streets and ride the busses without fear of violence or attack, or being spit on! A quick and strong government response would go a long way to quell the violence. But what am I thinking? Such a response might topple the government!

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  15. The title of this post is called "Anti-Charedi, not Anti-Semitic"

    I would much prefer it if you called this post the much less elegant, but hopefully much more accurate, "Anti-subset-of-Charedi, not Anti-Semitic "

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  16. Lo Fidalti-
    There are plenty of places in Israel where there are exemplary relations between all sectors of the population. I live in one such place. The problem is when there gets to be a certain concentration of Haredim, an extremist minority begins to have its presence felt.

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  17. I know some people who live in Beitar who are not particularly charedi, and certainly are vocally against many of the actions of the thugs.

    Yeah, a few sometimes manage to slip by incognito. Also, the vaad haichlus has not always existed, and when it has existed, some people have just ignored it. Hey, nobody kicked me out. There's a lot of very fine people in Beitar, just as I'm sure there are in Ramat Beit Shemesh B. I don't want to give the impression that there aren't, or that everyone in Beitar is a fanatic - far from it - but I do think it's a stretch to claim that intolerance does not exist in Beitar - it does, very much so, but there are very few non-haredim left to be intolerant of. To look at it from another angle, there's no need for turf wars between haredim and others because the haredim have already won unchallenged control of their turf.

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  18. Lo fidalti-

    Your approach seems to throw the baby out with the bathwater. It should not "thrill" you to live anywhere outside of Israel. As the Rambam cites-it is better to live in Israel in a city of idol-worshippers than to live in a frum town in galuth.

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  19. The man is also an ignoramus. The US State Department, which Hillary Clinton heads, pulls no punches in its criticisms of Saudi Arabia:

    http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/nea/154472.htm

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  20. If the American national media caught a soundbite of some whites complaining that their town is "turning black" they would be publicly vilified, logical rationales notwithstanding.
    Eg.:
    Us: Why is it unthinkable to be against the (black) takeover of (our white American city)? The (black) population pays much less in city taxes, they cause many non-(blacks) to end up leaving (said city), and they enable (drug dealers to run the communities, hooking children, spreading violence, and dirtying up the streets.)
    (Him: But most blacks aren't like that!)
    (Us: But per capita they are, so all else being equal etc.)

    Oh my, this would NOT fly at all.

    And I'm glad I live in such a society. I'm not listening to what you say behind closed doors. It's perfectly legal to conduct and publish a survey to fact-check the above prejudices. Maybe you should try to act upon the data. But what you say and how you act privately and publicly is totally different. I don't want to be discriminated against for being a (religious) Jewish American so I appreciate living in a society where we at least outwardly try to treat people as individuals. This is a really basic tenant of a liberal society. I can't stop people from making anti-semitic jokes behind my back. But do we have to mock each others' stereotypes in our faces?

    When the stakes get higher, like life and death, political-correctness gets more complicated, e.g., ethnic profiling. You could reasonably claim that since we can only check so many people, and statistics show blah blah etc., so check the Muslims more, rights notwithstanding, lives will be saved. And yet, even ethnic profiling it's a sensitive subject! (As a supporter of ethnic profiling) I think that's so great.

    So what's the difference? Why is protesting Charedim in this way acceptable? (In the interests of open-mindedness...)
    Maybe someone could say because being charedi is a choice, not a race? I dunno...protesting the infiltration of Mormons and Muslims sounds equally distasteful to me.
    Maybe someone will claim charedim are openly antagonistic or something? I dunno, I'm seriously not impressed.
    My (admittedly prejudiced guess, oh the irony!) is it has more to do with Israeli society. sigh

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  21. Rabbi, you'll just have to fight harder to preserve your moderate approach. Unfortunately, extremist rhetoric and violence is the only language that some religious people understand. Why can't criminal charges be brought against stone throwers and spitters? Where are the police? Who is really defending and protecting these folks? Who is brainwashing them to continue such ridiculous behavior?

    When you post on topics like these, it doesn't make the situation in "goles" seem so bad!

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  22. First of all I do not understand all of the hubris regarding Clinton's remarks. Saudi Arabia is irrelevant to the discussion. She merely pointed out that Israel which is the only stable democray in the Middle East and the only country in the region that follows some assemblance of human rights is in danger of losing it's character to extremists. This assesment is essentialy correct.

    Because Israel is a democracy there is something to lose here that does not exist in other countries in this region.

    Also this business of the right of anybody to take over neighboorhoods is nonsense. Everybody has the right to live where they want but they do not have the right to take over neighboorhoods. They need to charter new municipalities like they have done in Kyriat Sefer, Beitar, etc...

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  23. ". She merely pointed out that Israel which is the only stable democray in the Middle East and the only country in the region that follows some assemblance of human rights is in danger of losing it's character to extremists. This assesment is essentialy correct"

    This assesment is essentially Not correct. The real danger to losing the democracy is not from extremists, but from the Judiciary picking their own replacements. The democratic process from extremists is not being lost. There are protests being organized, women in advertisements in Jeruselem are allowed again, etc, etc.

    Eliyahu,
    I mostly agree with your comment. However, the problem has little to do with "Israeli society", and has much more to do with the opposite problem.

    The police and government until now have refused to deal with the people who break the law, throw stones, throw diapers, act as thugs etc.

    It's one thing to complain about "those people" moving in. (See the Daily show episode about the Eruv, for a case of this happening in NY)

    However the problem here is not with who is moving in, but with the city only funding projects that are run by Charedim. There is a problem of real corruption and thuggery.


    "My (admittedly prejudiced guess, oh the irony!) is it has more to do with Israeli society. sigh"

    I don't believe you are correct. Think of Waco Texas during the Clinton administration. Also again, see the segment of the Daily Show about the eruv, where the same sentiment exists in America, and how the national media in general ignored the story.

    Just imagine if the thugs in new square started moving into UWS Manhatan. You would see the same reaction.

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  24. "They need to charter new municipalities like they have done in Kyriat Sefer, Beitar, etc..."

    Ironically Beitar was NOT founded as a Haredi city (despite what they claim today). It was founded by dati leumi settlers affiliate with Machon Meir in 1984. Once the settlement had become established, the Haredim literally came in and pushed the original settlers out, who acquiesced because they were simply happy that the town was growing and the presence of Haredim ensured a strong growth rate.

    Even here in Modiin Illit (Kiryat Sefer) the askanim took control of a town they had no hand in founding and imposed their own leaders - both in terms of neighborhood rabbis and in city hall.

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  25. DawidH:
    What's the story in Kiryat Sefer?

    Far as I knew (from years ago) was that the four building contractors who built the place agreed to a compromise candidate as Rav (after a BIG fight) and after that Rav died, his son was installed so as to avoid another battle.

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  26. "The real danger to losing the democracy is not from extremists, but from the Judiciary picking their own replacements."

    No such danger. The Judicial Selection Committee in Israel has nine members, of whom only three are judges. Two members are from the Israel Bar Association, two are Cabinet Members, and two are Knesset members representing right wing parties. Seven votes are needed to appoint Supreme Court Judges.

    There IS a danger from the suggestion that the independence of the judiciary be eliminated.

    "Just imagine if the thugs in new square started moving into UWS Manhatan. You would see the same reaction."

    No, what you'd see is the NYPD putting things under control, and my rabbi, who a chaplain at Riker's Island Prison, would have some new members for his kehillah. (That Jewish prison chaplains are needed is in fact a chilul HaShem.)

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  27. " They have a democratic right to live their lives the way that they want to!"

    It is so ironic that this statement is made during Chanukah, as this is an expression of the ancient Hellenistic form of democracy: A majority vote of citizens could remove you from the community and force you into exile. Rome also adopted this system, and then made it even more draconian -- anyone subject to the "proscription" could be murdered by anyone, and the murderer received as a bounty a portion of the victim's estate.

    We recite "al hanisim" today to give thanks to HaShem for delivering us from this kind of political system.

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  28. Israel is serious about security when it comes to terrorists. The IDF has prevented literally thousands of terrorist attacks. Surely, if people want to stop the zealots from vandalizing, shutting down, or otherwise terrorizing businesses, they can do it. Once a place is targeted, all people need to do is put 24-hour armed security guards there, from a company who will send plenty of back-up if things get ugly. And perhaps certain things, such as screaming at school-girls, needs to be made illegal, if it's not already. Why not -- it borders on child abuse!

    The struggle against the zealots is the struggle for the heart of Orthodox Judaism, and the heart of Israeli democracy. People should not give them an inch. Extremist mob violence should not be allowed to have any influence whatsoever.

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  29. "There IS a danger from the suggestion that the independence of the judiciary be eliminated."

    Huh? In the United states the President picks a Judge, and then congress votes on them. You don't have judges picking and voting on themselves. That breeds corruption.


    "No, what you'd see is the NYPD putting things under control,"

    Why would the police prevent people from New Square moving into the UWS?

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  30. Sorry, he may be a nice guy, but your friend shouldn't be teaching anyone anything with those attitudes.

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  31. "Maybe someone could say because being charedi is a choice, not a race? I dunno...protesting the infiltration of Mormons and Muslims sounds equally distasteful to me.
    Maybe someone will claim charedim are openly antagonistic or something? I dunno, I'm seriously not impressed."

    I like the thrust of your post, but there is a difference between charedim and blacks. Blacks don't threaten establishments for having customers not dress black enough. The don't throw rocks at cars for driving on a black holiday. They don't impose their seating preferences on the local bus line. They don't scare little white girls because they reject the white school system. In short, charedim openly flout the values which you would like to see protect them.

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  32. "This assesment is essentially Not correct. The real danger to losing the democracy is not from extremists, but from the Judiciary picking their own replacements. "

    If a population's majority votes to strip the rights of the minority or limit free speech, is that democracy? One can debate the issue, but I'm happy to keep an activist judiciary protecting these rights.

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  33. Charlie,

    The 2 bar reps on the committee have historically been of a very similar mind set of the 3 judges, thus resulting in a starting point of 5, with a need to find 2 more of the remaining 4.
    And there are usually not 2 reps of right wing parties. This year there are b/c of the current make up of of the Knesset.
    While I see deficiencies w/ the US system, at least it allows a public hearing of questions to the judges, and makes them express their views.
    In Israel, this doesn't exist, and it's a problem.

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  34. "One can debate the issue, but I'm happy to keep an activist judiciary protecting these rights."

    Alexander Hamilton said pretty much the same thing in the Federalist Papers.

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  35. Abe: "I like the thrust of your post, but there is a difference between charedim and blacks. Blacks don't threaten establishments for having customers not dress black enough. The don't throw rocks at cars for driving on a black holiday. They don't impose their seating preferences on the local bus line. They don't scare little white girls because they reject the white school system. In short, charedim openly flout the values which you would like to see protect them."

    Okay first of all - add some qualifiers (or at least put charedi in quotes!).
    Some charedim threaten establishments. Some don't.
    Some blacks rape women. (Or is that not a "value"?) Some (most, actually!) don't.
    Some charedim impose seating preferences. Some charedim, like chief Rabbi Metzger, don't.
    Some blacks are muggers.)
    Some Jews were (and are) mobsters. (e.g. Rothstein)
    Some Jews run ponzi schemes.
    We could start comparing probability (crimes per capita) and severity of crimes (rare rape versus more common verbal abuse?) We could play this game all day, but I'm not going to.

    Obviously, some "some"s, taken in aggregate, can change a community.

    Don't get me wrong, labels do have their uses. When you do something like date for marriage, send your kids to school or pick a neighborhood you need to generalize the data and judge broadly. These are personal decisions.

    But otherwise you have to stop labeling people so broadly. People are individuals, they are complicated. Judging and labeling is distasteful. I've met "mizrachi" and "charedi" rabbis and laymen I agree and disagree with to varying degrees, as I assume you all have. I think a basic rite of passage to "maturity" is realizing that no one "group" is right, and you can sometimes agree with people you despise and sometimes disagree with your closest teachers and friends.
    If you want to write an editorial saying community X should do more of Y to solve their problems, and here's why, I'm with you. If you want to rage at the "Sikrikim," I'm with you. If you want to criticize specific "charedi" locals for not protesting with you, I'm with you.
    But if you want to tell "Charedim" "you're not wanted here," and write on the internet that you're "Anti-Charedi" - which some charedim may hear as "You're Charedi? Well I'm anti-Charedi - yes that means I'm anti you." I'm going to send you to back to school, because apparently you missed the module on prejudice. (Chapter 1, "What's wrong with prejudices?" Hint: The problem isn't that all prejudices are baseless.)

    (That last part sounds a little harsh. I hope I haven't offended anyone (such as Rabbi Slifkin), I'm just trying to express how much this means to me as well. I understand that there are serious issues here.)
    (Actually, "back to school" above used to be "back to kindergarten" - sounds better, but also sounds like uncalled for name-calling to me.)

    (Btw, Ameteur, did you mean to spell your name as Amateur?)

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  36. This discussion is quite amazing as if the issue with the charedim will come with RBS Gimmel.

    Let me tell you..it is already here, in RBSA and yes, even among more "moderate" charedim.

    I have a friend who volunteers to collect for Lema'an Achai. He has told me that he has been thrown out of certain shuls in RBSA repeatedly.

    What can anyone in RBSA have against Lema'an Achai? They are a great organization committed to helping people in our city?

    The problem? They aren't charedi "enough" and do fantastic work. Hence they are a threat to other organizations that are clearly more charedi.

    I have also seen their posters ripped down.

    Where are we, in Nuremberg?

    I would also like to refer the readers here to an older post on LifeinIsrael:

    http://lifeinisrael.blogspot.com/2008/02/giving-legitimacy-to-hooligans.html

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  37. "(Btw, Ameteur, did you mean to spell your name as Amateur?)"

    No, it's my own little pun between Truth and Death.

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  38. Robert,

    The link to the Life In Israel post is most dis concerning.

    The man spoken about is the principal of more than one school and wields much influence.

    His support of the hooligans to keep RBS from becoming modern should send a chill up the spines of all residents who wish for this to be an open community.

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  39. "If a population's majority votes to strip the rights of the minority or limit free speech, is that democracy? One can debate the issue, but I'm happy to keep an activist judiciary protecting these rights."

    I'm not sure what "activist" judiciary has to do with the conversation here.

    In America, the people vote for the president, and the president assigns a Judge, who the congress, (also voted on by the people) get to give a Yay or Nay vote to.

    In Israel, the suggestion that maybe the PM (voted on by the people) or the Kinesset (voted on by the people), might have an initial say in the process of picking Judges is declared "undemocratic". But really, democarcy is threatened, when Judges A, have no constitution to base their decisions on, and B, have no connection to the people currently living in the country.

    For example, while there is 1 arab in the court, the rest of them are of European descent, while Israel is made up of people from all over the world.

    Power corrupts.

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  40. Simple things should be done

    1) Charedim who abuse children in any way including spitting on them for "modesty" should be assumed to also abuse their own children and should immediately have their own children removed from their custody by the state of Israel. Those children should not be returned unless they satisfy the social worker that they no longer affiliate with any group that supports the abuse of children

    2) Any charedi who has time for protests has time for army service and should immediately be drafted. IE the army should go to charedi modesty demonstrations and take them to the induction center. Protesters are not learning full time and therefore have no right to a yeshiva exemption.

    3) Any threat to a business owner should be treated as extortion and criminally prosecuted as such.

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  41. Isn't the true enemy, extremism, in any form?

    Or is it only virtuous in Judaism?

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  42. Mordechai,
    You describe a society I would not want to be part of.

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  43. The town was founded by a garin of avrechim from Bnei Brak that organized in 1990 to have housing constructed on private land within what was then the area of Matityahu. Since then its come under the control of the UTJ, who had their candidate for mayor (Gutterman) made the ONLY candidate through the use of manipulation, threats, and secret deals. When the mostly Sfardi town of Ganei Modiin was detached from Hashmonaim and added to Modiin Illit (since both are Haredi) the UTJ leadership running Modiin Illit began siphoning off money specifically earmarked by the interior ministry for the much-needed infrastructure and maintanance of Ganei Modiin. UTJ also had its rabbis installed as neighborhood decisors across town with the formal backing of misrad hadatot. I know that in my neighborhood the carpet bagger UTJ sent has not been shy to impose his stringencies on the area despite the fact that, by his own admission, the overwhelming majority of residents dissented. For instance, he decided that no shabbat elevators may be used - even for elderly or even crippled residents - and personally took possession of all elevator shabbat-mode keys from every building. The mayor and his cabinet are generally disliked, but whenever anyone has tried to run, local rabbis, the local administration, and even thugs have prevented them from doing so.

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  44. DawidH:

    As I said, I thought that the town was built by four contractors (one of whom died before its completion) with the intent of its being a large Kollel-only city (hence, Kiryat Sefer) where there would be no Chutznikim, no Shas-affiliated Sefardim, and no working people. In short, there would be no one other than Israeli and European Avreichim (no Americans, no ba'alei teshuvah).

    But it was intended to be a big city.

    There was a big fight with Rav Shach as to who would be the Rav and Rav Kessler became the compromise candidate, serving there until he had a heart attack, presumably from fighting the Kabblanim who refused to allow all kinds of kids to register their kids for school.

    Then, his son took over as Rav, to avoid another mahlokes.

    That's not the history?

    In any event, as someone who lived there for awhile, I'm interested to hear what it's like now.

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  45. Eliyahu,

    "Okay first of all - add some qualifiers (or at least put charedi in quotes!)"

    Charedim do these things, and quotes would not be linguistically appropriate. They are charedim not "charedim." That's how the English language works.

    "Some charedim impose seating preferences. Some charedim, like chief Rabbi Metzger, don't."

    While you might be able to find a genuine charedi who does not support seating discrimination, Metzger (whose background and family are religious zionist) doesn't qualify.

    "But if you want to tell "Charedim" "you're not wanted here," and write on the internet that you're "Anti-Charedi" - which some charedim may hear as "You're Charedi? Well I'm anti-Charedi - yes that means I'm anti you." I'm going to send you to back to school, because apparently you missed the module on prejudice. (Chapter 1, "What's wrong with prejudices?" Hint: The problem isn't that all prejudices are baseless.)"

    Here's the problem. Charedi society is not a liberal one, although the degree to which individuals deviate may vary. The somewhat official _mainstream_ Beit Shemesh charedi "opinion" (and, as rabbis presume to represent underlings' thoughts in charedi society, quotes are appropriate) appears to be available at http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4167228,00.html where they say, "The residents of Beit Shemesh's haredi district bought their homes with the purpose of living in a haredi-homogeneous area where they could educate the young generation according to the tradition of our forefathers, which has been passed from generation to generation. No one has the right to prevent them from doing so."

    So there you go. They take over a non-homogenous neighborhood, declare it "homogenous" and are _entitled_ to impose their way of life there. No one should disrupt their neighborhood homogeneity, but they should be welcome anywhere they want.

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  46. "In Israel, the suggestion that maybe the PM (voted on by the people) or the Kinesset (voted on by the people), might have an initial say in the process of picking Judges is declared "undemocratic". But really, democarcy is threatened, when Judges A, have no constitution to base their decisions on, and B, have no connection to the people currently living in the country."

    The judges are selected by a process mandated by the knesset, a body which I suspect satisfies your understanding of democracy. That there is no constitution is indeed unfortunate and part of the reason that Israeli judges are perceived as over-reaching.

    As for not being directly elected, the purpose is to provide a measure of independence for the judiciary. My comment above was intended to convey why this independence is particularly necessary in Israel.

    "For example, while there is 1 arab in the court, the rest of them are of European descent, while Israel is made up of people from all over the world."

    I sympathize with your point, but realize that that one Arab would never have gotten there in your system. It took until 2007 for an (non-druze) Arab to be given a ministry (without portfolio), and it was highly controversial. Meanwhile, a foreign minister with fascist tendencies is pretty much ok. As far as I'm concerned, the status quo is preferable to Justice Lieberman.

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  47. "I can't remember the Chanukah tie-in, but he somehow got onto the topic of the inconsistency of Hillary Clinton criticizing Israel's oppression of women via Charedim, when Saudi Arabia beheaded a woman and Clinton remained silent. Okay, I can hear that this is a reasonable case for alleging antisemitism." - RNS

    Funny, I recall that Hillary Clinton did protest at least some of the discriminatory and retrograde practices in Saudi land. Of course, there is a fundamental difference between the governments of Israel and Saudi Arabia. The monarchy in the latter country and the Wahabi theocracy is not amenable to social pressure from outside. As long as they control the world's oil supply, they may feel free to disregard advice from US representatives. Israel is not in that position, which gives the objections of the US Secretary of State some clout.

    The idea that Hillary spoke from some underlying antisemitic stance is absurd. Giving any credence to such paranoia or frum rabble-rousing encourages those expressions.

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  48. In response to ABE:
    According to the original Democratic system as espoused by John Locke (Where everybody is born with a natural right to property, life etc.) The whole of society is based on an agreement among the populace: a social contract. With this social contract laws are created to explain how various functions should work.

    The Judiciary (I've forgotten who introduced the idea of it being the third branch...Hamilton maybe?) is supposed to interpreting the law. If the population and the judges disagree on the interpretation of a law, then the judges need to be changed (because they aren't working for the populace).

    Subjugation of a minority does undermine the democratic system, thus, no law can be passed that would limit rights to select parts of the population. Thus, the judges are also given the power to strike down the law as unconstitutional or that sort; but remember, they are working in the interest of the populace.

    Having the current system, where the judges of Israel seem to effectively be making laws and political decisions, especially since the populace doesn't agree with said decisions (ex: all land in Israel that isn't documented belongs to Arabs by default[instead of the state]) shows that the system is not reflecting the interests of the civilian population and therefore must be changed.

    However, AMETEUR: the Israeli system cannot be compared to the American system because there is no separation between the legislative branch of government and the executive. Both are elected in Knesset elections with the greatest party forming the government coalition with other parties.

    In the US, the Senate, who is elected in the second term of presidency, retains its character for a period. Thus, the President may hold of one ideology while the senate holds of another. This keeps the President from grabbing power and instituting drastic reforms. In Israel, where the Knesset and PM hold similar views, this isn't possible.

    In conclusion: IMO the Supreme court of Israel holds too much power. But the alternative complete power of the Knesset is even more frightening. Should the system be changed? Probably, even likely. But then a change in the entirety of the government is needed.

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  49. Abe, perhaps you are not understanding the context of my statements.


    http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=245573

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/150622#.TvrfbNQS1PI

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4148199,00.html

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/149775#.Tvrgf9QS1PI

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  50. " But then a change in the entirety of the government is needed."

    Agreed, I think Israel needs a 12 state solution.

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  51. I'm still concerned that by leaving the title of this post as is, you're declaring, "I'm anti-chareidi." Perhaps you'd like to leave it as is, but add an update explaining what you mean, and, more specifically, what you don't mean.

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  52. these charedim should be locked up and the key should be thrown away. Thet need psychiatric help. Hitler and today's neo-nazis gain in stature when pictures of these insane idiots are seen througthout the world. RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

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  53. Rabbi Dr, some might see your first two sentences contradicting each other.

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