Thursday, March 6, 2014

Layabouts or Heroes?

There is currently an uproar erupting over a video of Sunday's rally that I referenced in yesterday's post. Presented as the "official" video, it features a soundtrack and adds footage that degrades soldiers, police, and the prime minister as being worthless layabouts. The original person to post it on YouTube took it down, but you can view it here:


Over at Cross-Currents, Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein has written a post denouncing the video. But many people are claiming that it is unfair to present this video as representative of the rally. Instead, they claim, it just represents an aberrant individual. Rabbi Menken argues for a conspiracy theory that it was produced by someone intent on discrediting charedim. Are they correct?

There is no doubt that many people who attended the rally are appalled at the video. However, it cannot be dismissed as the work of an aberrant individual, or as the work of anti-charedi activist, for two reasons.

First is that the video was proudly posted at Kikar HaShabbat, and the upper left corner of the video displays the Kikar Shabat logo. Kikar HaShabat is a major charedi website. They even re-uploaded the video after it was taken down from YouTube. Hence, the video is definitely being promoted by people supporting the charedi cause. And while many of the comments there express disgust at the video, there are many others who express support of it.

Second is that the video was not created in a vacuum. When you have a society that condemns all efforts to draft its own people into the IDF, and that refuses to ever express gratitude and respect to the IDF, the natural consequence is that people will express ingratitude and disrespect to the IDF.

This Sunday, there is a similar rally planned for Manhattan. Anyone planning on going should realize that the above video is the natural consequence of charedi society. (And by the way, why is it advertised that the event will have Shomrim? Why do they need Shomrim, if they have yeshivah students?) At a rally here in Bet Shemesh tonight, MK Gafni referred to Prime Minister Netanyahu as a rasha!

Meanwhile, regarding those IDF soldiers that are disparaged in the above video, and for whom most charedi shuls refuse to say a tefillah, here is an amazing video from yesterday of the IDF taking over a ship transporting rockets from Iran to Gaza:


The commandos on this mission are still not back in Israel yet. Some of them are married, with families anxiously awaiting their safe return. If your shul does not say a prayer for the soldiers of the IDF, please encourage them to do so. You can download the text at this link. If they refuse to say the prayer, ask them why - and perhaps choose a different shul.

27 comments:

  1. "This Sunday, there is a similar rally planned for Manhattan. Anyone planning on going should realize that the above video is the natural consequence of charedi society. "

    So, why shouldn't a charedi go to the rally? Anyway his whole society inevitably means the same thing as the video, so why is going to the rally worse?

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  2. Moshe Dick writes:
    Well, I, living amongst chareidim, will not go to the rally. First of all, what gives us, American residents, the right to interfere in Israeli politics? However, more importantly, by attending such a rally, you give comfort to the most extreme sections of the chareidi world. (see the kefuffle about the video). When chareidi shuls start saying a mi sheberach for Israeli soldiers ,I will change my mind about the chareidi selfish mentality.

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  3. Here's a link to this weeks editorial in the Anerican Yated.
    http://www.yated.com/hearts-connected.3-1190-3-.html

    Trying to outdo his abhorrent piece from last year where he compares Dov Lipman to Amelek, this time the analogy is to the Purim story itself.

    How low will these people go!

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  4. Nothing new under the sun. That's the reason , besides others , which made me leaving the charedi camp. For Charedim anything which is not charedi is worthless.

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  5. Mazal tov on having your comment (I presume it is you) posted on Adlerstein's anti-video CC post.

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  6. "Kikar HaShabat is a major charedi website." -- I've never quite understood this. Haven't the Chareidi Gedolim ossured the Internet?

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  7. Moshe Dick writee:
    If anyone thought that chareidim could not sink further into the their own abyss, check out Kikar Shabbat, quoting the Israeli Yated who now has gone on record attacking the so-called settlers, accusing them of siphoning money for their causes. How more evil can you get ,than attacking the most patriotic members of society who literally have given their lives to settle all of Eretz Yisroel. And, of course, they are throwing thousands of chareidim who live in Kiryat Sefer, Emanual and elsewhere in Jehuda VeShomron under the post, abandoning them while they live in their comfortable Bai Braq, Truly disgraceful.

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  8. R'Slifkin: First is that the video was proudly posted at Kikar HaShabbat, and the upper left corner of the video displays the Kikar Shabat logo. Kikar HaShabat is a major charedi website.

    Maybe it is pro-Charedi website, but Charedi gedolim have banned internet use, so how can it be major or even minor charedi website if neither webmasters nor viewers can't be charedim? Same goes for YouTube and whatever videos various individuals posted there.

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  9. I am inclined to think the video was the work of an anti-Charedi satirist who then "suckered" Kikar ha-Shabbat into thinking it was an "official" video and posting it. I find it hard to imagine that a Haredi apologist, no matter how extreme and no matter what he thought privately, would in video for public consumption, include a scene of Netanyahu at the UN speaking about the Iranian threat of nuclear destruction as "devarim betelim." Sounds more like Swift's "A Modest Proposal" to me.

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  10. "First is that the video was proudly posted at Kikar HaShabbat, and the upper left corner of the video displays the Kikar Shabat logo. Kikar HaShabat is a major charedi website."

    Wouldn't it be fair to say that the organizers of this event abhor the very notion of a website? Why assume Kikar and its clientele represent their line of thinking?

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  11. " I find it hard to imagine that a Haredi apologist..."

    Not a Haredi apologist. A Haredi activist. I can assure you that there are many such people here in Israel. Just look at the comments on Kikar Shabat that approve of the clip.

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  12. Wouldn't it be fair to say that the organizers of this event abhor the very notion of a website? Why assume Kikar and its clientele represent their line of thinking?

    It doesn't represent Rav Steinman. But it does represent many charedim.

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  13. They had so many clips they could have used of people sitting in cafes or playing matkot on the beach (as if that is wrong to do). But to show Bibi at the UN dealing with the Iranian problem, soldiers, members of knesset, policemen???? They are so delusional.

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  14. "Anyone planning on going"

    I will never, ever attend a public demonstration against the Israeli government in the diaspora.

    Not now, not this coming weekend, not ever.

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  15. Lawrence Kaplan said: "I am inclined to think the video was the work of an anti-Charedi satirist who then "suckered" Kikar ha-Shabbat into thinking it was an "official" video and posting it."

    But even if this is true, the fact that Kikar ha-Shabbat posted it means they endorse it so what difference does it make?

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  16. The best response to that video you'll ever see is this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8Cg59-C9jI

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  17. Rabbi Slifkin: Can you really imagine that if a Haredi activist wished to choose an example of the Israeli Prime Minister engaged in devarim beteilim, he would have chosen his addressing the UN about the threat of a nuclear Iran? Indeed, we know how Charedi activists have portrayed hilonim. As vile creatures, not as the responsible, serious individuals shown on this clip. Also, why does the clip begin with a scene of mass littering, if this is not satire? Note, as well, that in one of the scenes there is clearly a women in the room (granted her face is mostly blocked), sitting next to Haredi Kenesset representative. Would an extremist Haredi activist not have airbrushed her out the scene? Finally, the very last section of the clip showed the Yeshiva students dancing to the accompaniment of "velo samta helkeinu bein yoshvei Keranot.

    In sum, a brilliant satire. Of course, the fact that this satire suckered on the one hand Kikar Shabbat and on the other such ordinarily astute observers as you and R. Adlerstein demonstrates, as the clip clearly intended, the sickness pervading much of Haredi society. Thus I agree with R. Menken that the clip is the work of critics of the rally, but his attempt to dismiss it as crude and amateurish shows poor judgment and ill grace on his part.

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  18. Can you really imagine that if a Haredi activist wished to choose an example of the Israeli Prime Minister engaged in devarim beteilim, he would have chosen his addressing the UN about the threat of a nuclear Iran?

    Yes, absolutely. Hishtadlus is just a sham, it has no innate value.

    Also, why does the clip begin with a scene of mass littering, if this is not satire?

    Littering? It's spreading the holy mission of the Gedolim!

    Would an extremist Haredi activist not have airbrushed her out the scene?

    Not necessarily.

    Professor Kaplan, with all due respect, you live in NY in a Modern Orthodox community. I spent many years in charedi yeshivos gedolos, and I live in a largely charedi town in Israel. I know exactly how they think. And so do the editors of Kikar Shabat.

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  19. FWIW, I incline to Professor Kaplan's view. Even before I saw his latest message, I had the same exact impression. The clips showed exactly the opposite of what one would want to show from the Charedi PoV. If they really wanted to make a video like this, it would be to contrast learning and other positive religious activities against non-religious going to the beach, movies, etc. (Not that that would a be a proof of anything, but that would be the approach to take). I agree that it is most likely very subtle and effective satire.

    Professor Kaplan, with all due respect, you live in NY in a Modern Orthodox community. I spent many years in charedi yeshivos gedolos, and I live in a largely charedi town in Israel. I know exactly how they think. And so do the editors of Kikar Shabat.

    I too have never been part of an Israeli Charedi community. But I think that the producer of the video probably also knew "how they think", which is how he was able to produce such an effective result.

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  20. Davd Ohsie: Thank you for agreeing with me. Even before this I had publicly expressed my view as to your good judgment!

    Rabbi Slifkin: True, I have lived all my life in MO communities (in NY, Boston, Israel, and mainly Montreal for over 40 years) but I have read enough literature by and about Haredim, whether moderate, extreme, or super-extreme, to have a good idea of what they believe. But really, if it was a Haredi video, why not show some soldiers beating up Haredim? Can you point to ONE bona fide Haredi video or ad which portrays hilonim engaged in such positive activities? And your response to my point about the littering is embarrassing. The video showed young haredim throwing with abandon hundreds of pamphlets on the ground and you seriously claim that its intention was to portray them as "spreading the holy message of the Gedolim"?! Give me a break! You also did not answer my last point. Look at the last ten seconds of the clip and see which group it is that in the final analysis is portrayed as yoshvei Keranot.

    Also the choice of the Hasid holding the Sefer Torah was not accidental.

    After Jonathan Swift published his "Modest Proposal" there we some people who thought it was serious!

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  21. unfortunately, the video is still on kikar hashabat

    http://www.kikarhashabat.co.il/%D7%90%D7%A0%D7%95-%D7%9E%D7%A9%D7%9B%D7%99%D7%9E%D7%99%D7%9D-%D7%A6%D7%A4%D7%95-%D7%91%D7%A7%D7%9C%D7%99%D7%A4-%D7%94%D7%A8%D7%A9%D7%9E%D7%99-%D7%A9%D7%9C.html

    Both this video and the video-response are acting by impulse, and not toward union of am-israel.

    I'm still waiting for a video-response-response, to mix both sides when saying "ioshbei beis hamidresh", and then pointing to a drawing of "ioshbei keranot".

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  22. But really, if it was a Haredi video, why not show some soldiers beating up Haredim?

    Because he didn't have the footage to hand? Because he didn't think of it?

    Can you point to ONE bona fide Haredi video or ad which portrays hilonim engaged in such positive activities?

    Did you see the letter of the Satmar Rebbe about why he won't join in the Agudah anti-draft rally?

    The video showed young haredim throwing with abandon hundreds of pamphlets on the ground and you seriously claim that its intention was to portray them as "spreading the holy message of the Gedolim"?! Give me a break!

    You are out of touch with the charedi street (literally). Here in Beit Shemesh, it is a mark of charedi pride to litter the streets with as many pieces of campaign material as possible, even if they are not going to be read. It's sort of marking their territory.

    Look at the last ten seconds of the clip and see which group it is that in the final analysis is portrayed as yoshvei Keranot.

    Sloppy video editing.

    Honestly, Prof. Kaplan, you just don't understand the mindset of many charedim. But the fact that the video was warmly received by many people - even some Cross-Currents readers! - clearly demonstrate that it is certainly not out of sync with the attitudes of many charedim. There's no reason to concoct an elaborate conspiracy theory about someone getting to the rally early with a video camera to get footage of the setyup, and passing off a video to Kikar Shabat with their logo on it.

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  23. Rabbi Slifkin: First you stated that the littering was "spreading the holy message of the Gedolim," and then when I called you on that, you shifted gears and said that the littering is a macho badge of Haredi pride, "sort of marking their territory." Exactly. As if I am so naive and so out of touch as not realize that! The question, however, is whether the makers of an "official" Haredi video directed to convincing a large Haredi public of the rightness of their cause would be so out of touch as not to realize that whatever pride they might personally take in "marking their territory," still opening the video with such a scene of mass littering might not go over that well with its intended audience. Have any of the Haredim in Beth Shemesh who litter as a badge of pride ever made any campaign videos or run any campaign ads showing off this mass littering??? If the answer is yes, I concede your point.

    Most of the comments both on CC and Kikar Shabbat were exceptionally negative, many were horrified. Very few commenters warmly received it. Some defended it after the fact in a half hearted manner.

    I asked you about videos and ads and you in response refer me to a letter of the Satmar Rebbe. Taanu lo be-hitim ve hodeh lo be seorim! If this was a video commissioned by Kikar Shabbat, are they that out of touch with their audience as not to realize that they were making their video in such a fashion as to elicit a vast negative response from their intended audience? I assume the makers of this video, whoever they are, are bit more worldly than the Satmar Rebbe!

    If the video was intended as pro-Haredi, then it was a grotesque failure. Of course, if the video was an anti-Charedi satire then, as even R. Menken grudgingly and obliquely acknowledged, it was a smashing success.

    I do not feel we will convince one another. Poe's law.

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  24. Have any of the Haredim in Beth Shemesh who litter as a badge of pride ever made any campaign videos or run any campaign ads showing off this mass littering???

    The mass-littering IS the campaign ad.

    Very few commenters warmly received it.

    But some did. And those are the kind of people who made the video.

    If the video was intended as pro-Haredi, then it was a grotesque failure.

    Right, it was. That's what happens when the more extreme elements go too far - they harm their own cause. A story like that just happened in Bet Shemesh; I might post about it tomorrow.

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  25. I guess we will not convince each other. But the question David Ohsie ad others asked which you did not answer is why didn't the supposed Haredi makers of the video show such "devarim beteilim" as going to movies, clubbing, police beating up on Haredim etc? "Going too far" refers to Haredi posters depicting soldiers as Nazis, referring to the government as Haman, Amalek, etc. Here the opposite occurred.

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  26. Rabbi Slifkin: I just want to point out that, IMO, if it was satire (and I agree that it is hard to be sure), that this doesn't undermine your thesis; in fact it would provide even greater support. The fact that it was then accepted by kikar hashabat and defended by others would be even more absurd and damning. Think of it as the Haredi equivalent of the Sokal affair where a physicist was able to trick a left-wing humanities journal to publish gems such as the following (from wikipedia):

    After referring skeptically to the "so-called scientific method", the article declared that "it is becoming increasingly apparent that physical 'reality'" is fundamentally "a social and linguistic construct". It went on to state that because scientific research is "inherently theory-laden and self-referential", it "cannot assert a privileged epistemological status with respect to counterhegemonic narratives emanating from dissident or marginalized communities" and that therefore a "liberatory science" and an "emancipatory mathematics", spurning "the elite caste canon of 'high science'", needed to be established for a "postmodern science [that] provide[s] powerful intellectual support for the progressive political project".

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  27. Eli Former ChareidiMarch 10, 2014 at 3:17 AM

    Personally, I think the question as to whether the video was or wasn't satire is not relevant. What is demonstrated on the video is unfortunately a society out of touch with reality. A society in which bochurim dance with some fancy moves as a way of demonstrating that they don't want to go to the army? It's shameful. I don't care whether or not this is satire. What is amazing is that it is considered (by those attending, organizing, and participating in the rally) normal for people who contend that they are engaged in holy work to be dancing around like jesters. I understand the concept of singing and dancing with the Torah. But dancing and smiling in this context makes me think, "sure, I'd also feel like dancing if I could avoid risking my life in the army." I live in the US, so I must admit that I haven't risked my life and served in tzahal, but if I travelled to Israel, and while I was there they made a law to draft me immediately, I sure woudln't 'protest' by dancing..... That would merely demonstrate that I had a lot of spare time on my hands..... Or are we supposed to believe that those holy dances in the street are Israel's real secret weapon, its real Iron Dome???

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