Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Persecution Libel


There's a common theme uniting the Selfishness & Ingratitude Rallies of Jerusalem and New York, and the campaigning regarding the Beit Shemesh elections this week. The common theme is the claim that the new Government draft laws, and the opposition to Mayor Moshe Abutbul, is persecution of charedim, based on anti-charedi hatred. I'm not claiming that there is no wrongful anti-charedi sentiment in Israel - of course there is. However, to label the aforementioned phenomena as "anti-charedi persecution" is simply false.

Most of the signs at the rally in Jerusalem last Sunday were protesting the redifah (persecution) of charedim. The average charedi person believes, or acts as though they believe, that the new government draft laws single out charedim for special punishment. Yet in fact, the exact opposite is true. Under the new laws, charedim still get off vastly easier than anyone else in Israel. All the new laws do is to shrink the unfairness by a tiny amount.

There is no criminalization of Torah study. There is only an uneven (in the favor of charedim) criminalization of avoiding the draft. If you dodge going the army so as to play computer games or study art history or practice medicine or engage in Zen meditation you are liable to go to prison. How on earth does putting charedi yeshivos in the same category (and only partially) equate to special persecution of charedim?! All this talk about the "criminalization of Torah study" is nothing less than motzi shem ra against the State of Israel.

The same libel is occurring with the Beit Shemesh elections, only here the hypocrisy is perhaps even more blatant. Last night, a moderate-turned-extreme Anglo-charedi shul in Beit Shemesh hosted a "Gedolim for Abutbul rally." It featured video presentations from Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky and the Novominsker, neither of whom have ever stepped foot in Beit Shemesh and certainly have not spoken to Eli Cohen or any of his supporters. The keynote presentation was from Rav Aharon Feldman, who aside from being the Rosh Yeshivah of Ner Israel, is the father-in-law of a local kano'i Rav. He spoke about how Beit Shemesh - formerly a mixed city of secular, national-religious and charedi - is at a crossroads, and how it is crucial to vote for Moshe Abutbul, because he will be able to turn it into a city like Bnei Brak.

This is nothing less than remarkable. The standard charedi rhetoric in this campaign is that Eli Cohen and his supporters are Charedi Haters. Now, last night there was an explicit confirmation of what to many people is obvious - that Abutbul will turn the city into Bnei Brak. Do you really have to be a "hater of Charedim" to be against that? Can't you just be a person who likes the city as it is, with an even mix of different people? (And can't you just be someone who wants a city that doesn't pile more and more people into it, when the infrastructure is hopelessly inadequate?)

Even many charedim want Eli Cohen, because they realize that he will keep the more economically productive residents, attract investment from outside Beit Shemesh, and make the city more prosperous. All of this will work out better for charedim. Many charedim do not want the city turning into Bnei Brak, which is the poorest city in Israel. So what on earth is this libel about how opponents of Abutbul are nothing more than Charedi-haters?!

The only thing that charedi politicians, rabbis and leaders know to do is to express a siege mentality. Any actions by others - whether they are simply trying to improve their own lives, remove some of the unfairness in charedi society, or try to make help charedim attain economic independence - is portrayed as "persecution of charedim." Amazingly, it's as though there is no other possible reason for these efforts. It's very sad.

(For more on Rav Feldman, see this post.)

19 comments:

  1. Kol sheposel bemumo posel. Some Chareidim say others are antichareidi, but doesn't the desire to make Beit Shemsh like Bnei Brak represent anti-noncharedi sentiments to a stark degree.

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  2. The canard that the State of Israel wants to "criminalize Torah study" is not only being spread by Mishpacha. It's also explicitly said by the Novominsker - you can hear it at http://atzerestefillah.org/?cat=3. Woe to us, that someone bearing the title of the "Head of the Council of Gedolim" engages in sheker, slander and motzi shem ra against Israel.

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  3. Well said. To watch how these people act and speak, I begin to wonder whether their leaders need, or think they need, to invent or inflate enemies in order to survive.

    I've heard it said many times that when the Jewish people start to assimilate, God brings enemies to prevent this. Today's haredi world seems to be taking this a step further. If God doesn't provide the enemies, let the haredi politicians and press invent the enemies.

    Unless one can really and rationally believe that the only motivation anyone has to resent and wish to change the blanket yeshiva-student army exemption is a desire to wipe out the haredi world. It's hard to believe that such intelligent people as many haredim are can be so callous and lacking in the ability to see any other point of view but their own as to honestly believe that this is the sole or even the primary motivation for changing the law.

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  4. Bnei Brak has a great pizzeria.

    Just trying to look on the bright side.

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  5. Slifkin you know what your problem is? You can't stop ranting. Some people agree and some disagree with you, this is known. Why do you have to keep BEATING and BEATING the same old corpse? People are less sympathetic to anyone who just has to call constant attention to themselves. Learn to actually be a man and assert your opinions in a mature fashion.

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  6. "If you dodge going the army so as to play computer games or study art history or practice medicine or engage in Zen meditation you are liable to go to prison"

    I wouldn't go as far as compare learning Torah to playing computer games or even art history. While it might not be enough of a reason, studying the Book that came from Sinai is definitely a more convincing argument to avoid army than playing Mrs. Pac-Man all day

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  7. "I wouldn't go as far as compare learning Torah to playing computer games or even art history."

    I didn't.

    "studying the Book that came from Sinai is definitely a more convincing argument to avoid army than playing Mrs. Pac-Man all day"

    Whether that is false or 100% true, it is entirely irrelevant to the point that I was making.

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  8. "studying the Book that came from Sinai is definitely a more convincing argument to avoid army "

    But doesn't the Torah mandate everybody to join the army for a מלחמת מצוה?

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  9. Brooklyn Refugee SheygitzMarch 9, 2014 at 6:41 PM

    Very important article from this past friday by Yoav Sorek on the new charedi religion

    http://musaf-shabbat.com/2014/03/07/%d7%94%d7%a8%d7%a4%d7%95%d7%a8%d7%9e%d7%94-%d7%94%d7%97%d7%a8%d7%93%d7%99%d7%aa-%d7%99%d7%95%d7%90%d7%91-%d7%a9%d7%95%d7%a8%d7%a7/

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  10. Wanting Haredim in the army and work force isn't persecution and hatred of Haredim, BUT making this re-election and all t his other fuss is clearly anti-Haredi action. "voter fraud" is a non-sense excuse. The system is "democracy" at least in name so honor it.
    Don't like it? Leave the city and go to a different location where you are more comfortable with.

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  11. Very, very sad. How have we sunk so low? After reading this post, I'm not even mad anymore at the charedim, just enormously sad that "our" rabbinical leadership is so helplessly ignorant, mediocre, and small-minded.

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  12. moniker the shmonikerMarch 9, 2014 at 9:15 PM

    Personally I think you all missed the point of the rally. It was a convincing and dramatic show of force. If 400,000 people in any country - but especially in a small country - don't want to be drafted, they won't be drafted.

    A rethink of the approach taken to the integration of Charedim is needed.

    Personally I would advocate prosecution of the charedi leadership for incitement to commit violence; money laundering; sexual crime; corruption of public officials etc.

    Arresting the crazyovka rebbe is an achievable goal which will help end the culture of impunity and move things forward without pitting the state against a worryingly large part of the population. It would focus rabbinical minds if they and not their foot-soldiers were punished.

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  13. "If you dodge going the army so as to play computer games or study art history or practice medicine or engage in Zen meditation you are liable to go to prison." Yes, but no sanctions will be placed upon the video game arcade (remember those) ort he institution where you learn art history. According to this new law, however, there will be sanctions placed upon yeshivos that do not have a sufficient percentage of their students volunteeer for the draft. So, contrary to your repeated claims, the act of Torah study in and of itself is being legislated against.

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  14. Hodu Hashem - there is noting more democratic than calling for new elections when the first elections were won by a very small margin and there was a confirmed organized campaign to tamper with the balloting. Accepting the corrupted results of that vote would have been very undemocratic.

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  15. Yehoshua, the differences are twofold - that the yeshivos are trying to dissuade people from going to the army, and that the recruiting requirements from the yeshivos are much, much less than from the rest of the population.

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  16. Baruch- this happens a lot more by the Arabs and other places as well. No one would DARE to speak about making re-election if it was an Arab or probably a Hiloni.

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  17. Yes, but no sanctions will be placed upon the video game arcade (remember those) or the institution where you learn art history.

    I'm going to imagine that you if set up an art institute for ages 18-21 populated by draft dodgers, you would not get funding from the government to begin with.

    Video game parlors (or their modern equivalents) don't take attendance and don't get funding.

    Thucydides said...
    Slifkin you know what your problem is? You can't stop ranting. Some people agree and some disagree with you, this is known. Why do you have to keep BEATING and BEATING the same old corpse? People are less sympathetic to anyone who just has to call constant attention to themselves. Learn to actually be a man and assert your opinions in a mature fashion.


    When you are pretending to give someone advice for their own good, it is important to avoid dropping their title. You're supposed to say something like "I really agree with you, Rabbi Slifkin, but you are going too far, etc.". Choose another pseudonym and try again.

    Ben Waxman said...
    Bnei Brak has a great pizzeria.

    Just trying to look on the bright side.


    I have no right to laugh here, but all I can say is :).

    Hodo Hashem said...
    Wanting Haredim in the army and work force isn't persecution and hatred of Haredim, BUT making this re-election and all t his other fuss is clearly anti-Haredi action. "voter fraud" is a non-sense excuse. The system is "democracy" at least in name so honor it.


    ??? Voter fraud is a subversion of democracy.

    Don't like it? Leave the city and go to a different location where you are more comfortable with.

    You did a bit of a 180. You stared arguing for democracy and now you say that if you want to protect your rights, leave.

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  18. Hodu Hashem - you are absolutely wrong. Nazareth is also holding reelections tomorrow because of widespread fraud in the original elections in the autumn.

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  19. While I agree with you on many things, I do think that the chilonim in government want to secularize the chareidim. It is only natural to try to spread one's own beliefs. However, that does not take away from the fact that there is unfair treatment to a large segment of society. It is unfair for one group to rely on others for protection and stipends, and give nothing back in return. I can at least respect Satmar Who are not taking government money. But anyone who takes, should give back.

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