Monday, April 24, 2017

Denying Extremism, Dismissing Hooliganism

Rabbi Avi Shafran, Director of Public Affairs at Agudath Israel of America, just published an article, in response to an earlier column by Shoshana Keats Jaskoll, with the title: "Why Do Some Fellow Jews Scorn The Ultra-Orthodox?" Now, that is a question with several reasonable answers, none of which are adequate on their own, but all of which undoubtedly play a role. Some of them are the fault of charedim, such as the ever-painful IDF issue, and the under-contribution to the professional workforce. Others are no fault of the charedim and are due to innate bias against people who present themselves as being more religious.

But Rabbi Shafran does not acknowledge that there might be any good reasons to disapprove of the charedi community. Instead, he addresses just two potential reasons, which he denies.

The first is Ms. Jaskoll's report that "Increasingly, images of women are disappearing from publications, billboards, bank and health clinic brochures in Israel." Rabbi Shafran claimed that this is false: "Many haredi publications, in the interest of the Jewish idea of modesty, have always refrained from including photos of women; that’s no new or ominous development." Rabbi Shafran is perverting the truth here, and he surely knows it. To be sure, there are certain hassidic groups which have always refrained from including photos of women. However, the Litvishe world - that to which Rabbi Shafran belongs - used to have no problem including photos of women, and it is only recently that they have stopped doing so. So there is indeed a major new development, and Rabbi Shafran is being dishonest to claim otherwise.

Rabbi Shafran then argues that it is intolerant to object to this practice: "Ms. Jaskoll is welcome to find the position extreme, and I would tend to agree. But we differ in that I don’t disparage people for making choices I wouldn’t make. The word for that is 'intolerance.' ” Another lot of nonsense. Rabbi Shafran certainly disparages people for making choices that he believes to be wrong - he does so in this very article! And this is all the more true when these choices harm others. Removing women from publications is deeply upsetting and harmful to many women in those very communities (as well as often being imposed on media outside of those communities). Calling it "intolerant" to try to stand up for them is as absurd. It's like praising Madoff and disparaging Sully. It's like claiming that charedim believe in female empowerment. It's like claiming that a lack of critical thinking is a greater problem outside of the charedi world than inside it. (Okay, I had better stop giving examples of absurd things, since Rabbi Shafran has argued for each of these.)

Rabbi Shafran then moves on the second criticism that Ms. Jaskoll leveled against the charedi community: the fact that hooligans are not merely a group of outliers, distant from the rest of charedi society, but rather they are part of a larger phenomenon of increasing extremism. Rabbi Shafran expresses extreme skepticism at Ms. Jaskoll's reports about ongoing hooliganism in Beit Shemesh. Well, as a resident of Beit Shemesh, I can also attest that these reports are entirely true. My relatives and friends have often been cursed at or had things thrown at them by extremist charedim of all ages. These incidents mostly take place in and around an area called RBS-B, where hundreds of charedi adults will be standing around watching and not doing anything as teenage girls are harassed. During the municipal elections, such behavior extended to the more mainstream charedi area of RBS-A, where activists for the non-Charedi candidate were called Nazis, by both street youth and certain charedi public officials.

Rabbi Shafran claims that the blame for such behavior should not be extended to anyone outside of group of hooligans themselves. But this is patently false. Communal responsibility is a theme that runs throughout the Torah. And as I pointed out in a post two years ago, there is no sharp disconnect between the hooligans and other charedim with regard to religious zealotry.

There is a continuous spectrum ranging from physical violence to verbal abuse towards outsiders which exists throughout the charedi world. Furthermore, while the people at each level do not agree with the level of hostility coming from people to their right, there is near-constant refusal to condemn it. And even people who are horrified by the violence nonetheless produce inflamed rhetoric which creates an atmosphere that allows it and contributes to it.

At the extreme right you have a group of Meah Shearim and RBS-Bet hooligans who will commit physical violence against people. Less to the right are others from those communities who will not commit physical violence, but they publish the chardak campaign which portrays soldiers as pigs and evil beasts out to seize innocent charedim. Then less to the right are the Rav Shmuel Auerbach faction and suchlike, who describe Israel as a terrorist state and hold riots against conscription. Then moving left into the right wing of the mainstream Litvishe world, there is regular talk of people who are pro-equal army service being "Amalek" and suchlike. Then people across the board in the charedi world attended the notorious selfishness and ingratitude rally in which Shefoch chamascha was recited against the Israeli government. Then even supposedly "moderate" charedi rabbonim in RBS-A tacitly endorse newspapers which paint non-charedi politicians as Nazis.

Each of these groups does not approve of the actions of those on their right. But, with rare exceptions, they will never condemn them. During the peak of violence against the children and parents of a religious Zionist school in Beit Shemesh, there was a rally to show empathy and support for that community. It was attended by a broad cross-section of religious Zionists from across Beit Shemesh - and by virtually no charedim.

Why are they so reluctant to acknowledge and condemn violence? Sometimes this is because they are afraid of not appearing frum/ right wing enough, and sometimes it is because they see it as more important not to break ranks with other charedim than to condemn violence. Whatever the reason, as long as matters are this way, non-charedim are correct to consider verbal/physical violence as a charedi problem. The problem is not the attackers, per se; it is that the attackers are part of a larger community which exudes hostility and ingratitude to Zionist Israel at every level and which almost never condemns verbal and physical violence from the right.

Who should condemn charedi extremist violence? Everyone. And the further you are to the religious right, the louder you should be condemning it. The fact that the charedi community is so reluctant to do so is part of the problem.

Rabbi Shafran concludes his article by claiming that criticism of charedi society is like antisemitism - logically and morally wrong. I think it's time for him to check his logical and moral compass.

51 comments:

  1. The Haredim are quite happy to use extreme language to blast anyone who isn't them, but when they are on the receiving end of even mild criticism, they cry "intolerance." Typical crybully behaviour: they can dish it out, but they can't take it.

    And as usual, Shafran is using straw men to mislead and distort. The problem here isn't that Haredi newspapers don't print pictures of women. That's up to them. The problem--and Jaskoll is right to call it ominous--is that Haredim are trying to impose this erasure of women on non-Haredi publications, companies and organizations.

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    1. In regards to women disappearing from Charedi publications.....
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKWj8pbWEvA

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  2. Your comment about the 'ingratitude rally' is endemic of the issue. From your standpoint, the only important part of the rally was that out of thousands of prayers in the prayer book, they also omitted one to which you are partial. From there you have extrapolated to legitimate reasons to hate or scorn Charedim. That is exactly how bigots justify themselves. Left wingers are pro Muslim, so fighting for abortion is antisemitic.

    And women's pictures is an absurd point. Why should someone outside their community be affected? Why is it their business? And btw, many Charedi women would be horrified to have their picture published. Somehow it disturbs 'their' sense of modesty. Some people feel that only forcing modesty is wrong, but the opposite is just liberty.

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    1. "From your standpoint, the only important part of the rally was that out of thousands of prayers in the prayer book, they also omitted one to which you are partial."

      No, the entire rally was a problem. They were rallying against even a small amount of correcting the inequality between charedim and non-charedim re. the draft.

      "Why should someone outside their community be affected?"

      Women outside their community are affected when economic or other force is used to remove pictures of women in non-charedi media.

      "And btw, many Charedi women would be horrified to have their picture published."

      Correct, and it would be wrong to publish their pictures. But how is that relevant to the case of women who are horrified to have NO pictures of women allowed?

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    2. > btw, many Charedi women would be horrified to have their picture published

      After being raised in a school system which indoctrinates them into believing they are a source of lust for men, are best to stay hidden from sight, are only useful for producing babies and working so their husbands don't have to....

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    3. If you have a public forum such as a newspaper, then it is very much everybody's business. the stand being taken is that women must not be seen in public media, and anybody who says otherwise, as Mishpacha tried to do during the election, is poretz geder. This is a hard right shift, and I still don't understand the point. A woman is allowed to appear in public, but her picture, as she appears, is not.

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    4. You mis state the problem of women's pictures. Most of us feel that if Haredi publications don't want to publish photos of women, that is their business. But their objection to photos of women in publications marketed to the rest of us definitely is our business. Brochures advertising services for pregnant women and programs for mothers that feature only photos of men give the wrong impression of their purpose. Programs and services for women that are being marketed to women should have women's photos.
      Period.

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  3. In any fight between two communities, I believe it is, indeed, tactically unwise to publicly criticize those in your own camp who may go overboard. I don't agree with the charedim in most of these cases, but their leaders' decision not to publicly condemn radicals in their midst is wise in my opinion.

    (Also, the Shefoch Chamascha was part of a perek Tehillim. People say Tehillim as a ritual without paying attention to the actual meaning of the words.)

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    1. So you have no problem with "moderate" Moslems not condemning suicide bombings etc?

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    2. That Chareidim consider themselves a community separate from and fighting with the rest of Clal Yisrael is precisely the problem.

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    3. Zephaniah,

      If moderate Muslims believe in Islam conquering the West, then they shouldn't condemn the terrorists. But the claim is that moderate Muslims do not believe this.

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    4. So why didn't they say Ashrei Yoshvei Veisecho, if they weren't paying attention to the words?

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    5. yehudah, your arguments are flawed. It may be politically advisable to defend extremists in your camp only if their actions are considered beneficial to your cause. If not, then distancing from such behavior would be appropriate. A logical conclusion is, then, that the violence is considered beneficial, i.e., the ends justify the means. That way of thinking is then part of the problem. While there may be a short term advantage of this approach, there is a likely long term disadvantage in that it makes Hareidim into pariahs in the larger society. Sooner or later, there will be a secular government that doesn't need Hareidi parties to function. Guess who will be hurting then.

      Your 2nd point about the organizers not having paid attention to the meaning of the perek "shefoch chamascha al hagoyim asher lo yeda'ucha..", that is a demeaning and entirely unbelievable stance. The organizers had 150 perakim of Tehilim from which to choose. They chose "shefoch" deliberately, as befits their extremist ideology which treats non-Hareidim - much less, secular Jews, as Gentiles and looks toward their destruction.

      Y. Aharon

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  4. I condemn all forms our verbal and physical violence again any Jew.
    I would be considered from the right on the Ortthodox spectrum.
    I love Am Yisroel and the Land of Israel.
    I am not a zionist.

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  5. > Rabbi Shafran then argues that it is intolerant to object to this practice

    This is a standard tactic of the intolerant. To point to those protesting their intolerance and accuse them of being intolerant of the intolerance. If there was a publication that wouldn't publish pictures of Jews, I doubt R' Shafran would be defending their right to make that choice, and accusing people who protested against it of being intolerant.

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    1. Sure its a standard "tactic", because its a winning argument. You cant go around preaching tolerance for every deviation under the sun, but then be intolerant of those who refuse to compromise their principles. It's the Achilles heel of the entire liberal platform.

      As for last sentence - you're right, but so what? Liberalism is nothing if not selective in its application. I don't see why R. Shafran should be any different.

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    2. The value is not, as you seem to think, "tolerance of everything - except those things I don't like." It's, "If people are doing things that are harmless, it's none of my business - even if I don't like it." "Tolerance" is not an end in itself, it's the byproduct of not interfering in others' harmless behaviors.

      Therefore we should be tolerant of "deviations," because gay people aren't harming anyone (you are talking about gays, right?), and we should be intolerant of excluding women or Jews or any other group from the public eye because that harms the group being excluded.

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    3. We differ on what constitutes harm. By including the charedi photograph policy, you concede that harm is not limited to mere physical violence alone. (This is progress; not all leftists would admit that.) But then you assert that gays aren't harming anyone. That is profoundly mistaken. Homosexuality (i.e., marriage & the public display of it) clearly harm the morals the country. And it is odd that you focus solely on homosexuality. Other liberal "values" that atheists have adopted to fill their spiritual void are harmful in the same or worse ways. Feminism, for example, which has had a horrific affect on marriage and the family. These are harmful deviations from historical norms, and they infect all of society, and yet you would ask Charedim to tolerate it. If so, be a little more accepting of their own policies as well.

      In any event, the distinction you attempt between harmful and not harmful is more than just self-serving, it is also fictitious. The concept of "tolerance" means "acceptance." Thus, if you expect them to tolerate practices they disagree with, they can expect you to tolerate practices you disagree with. As always, the wisdom of Ogen Nash is instructive:

      Sometimes with secret pride I sigh
      To think how tolerant am I;
      Then I wonder which is really mine:
      Tolerance, or a rubber spine?

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    4. " ...harm is not limited to mere physical violence alone. (This is progress; not all leftists would admit that.)"

      Do you know many leftists who find non-violent racial discrimination and sexual harassment not harmful?

      "Homosexuality (i.e., marriage & the public display of it) clearly harm the morals the country."

      In what way? How does the marriage of two gay men affect your morals?

      Until recently, a similar argument was made against Judaism: that it was harmful to public morals because it denied the divinity of Jesus.

      But fortunately, that's not how things go in a free society. You have the right to find my conduct immoral, and I yours. What neither of us is entitled to do is to impose our morals on other people.

      If a majority _was_ entitled to impose its moral views, I dare say you wouldn't much like the result.

      "the distinction you attempt between harmful and not harmful is ... fictitious."

      You seem to claim that there is only one possible view of morality, yours; that any other view is harmful, and that you are therefore entitled to impose your view on everyone else.

      Points of view are expressed in, say, Ami magazine, that I consider morally depraved. I am allowed to criticize them. I am not allowed to smash their printing presses.

      But according to you that's a fictitious distinction.

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    5. David, there is only one relevant point to the discussion I was having with G*3. And that is this: Tolerance means respecting a point of view you disagree with. The religious are asked to show tolerance to viewpoints and practices which they find distasteful and harmful. (Whether YOU find them distasteful or harmful is not relevant.) The least the non-religious, or if that hurts your feelings, the less religious, can do, is reciprocate. That they obviously don't quite clearly evidences the rank hypocrisy rife among liberals, and hence serves as validation for rejection. Leftists would have much better standing if they were to actually practice what they preach.

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    6. You are oversimplifying the very notion of tolerance. The virtue of tolerance does not demand that you tolerate the immoral. Clearly, there are limits to what we should tolerate. Does the idea of limits make us hypocrites? Does it make us intolerant? Further, it is perfectly reasonable to say we need to tolerate that which we find distasteful, but not that which we find harmful. Similarly, there are different sorts of harm; for instance, we might tolerate that which we feel causes spiritual harm, but not physical harm-- or vice versa. Your attack on leftists for their supposed hypocrisy, well, that's an old claim. For the above reasons, it never made much sense to me and still doesn't.

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    7. Sure its a standard "tactic", because its a winning argument. You cant go around preaching tolerance for every deviation under the sun, but then be intolerant of those who refuse to compromise their principles. It's the Achilles heel of the entire liberal platform.

      You are throwing around the word "tolerance" in a loose way to help your argument. Thinking that someone else is horribly wrong is not equivalent to spitting on people, assaulting them verbally (as in many people surrounding and yelling at them), excommunicating them or throwing stones at them, let alone censoring them. You are absolutely correct that people find it easier to tolerate things that they don't agree with. But there are definitely those on both the right and left who speak out for and fight for tolerance of those whom they disagree with. A recent example is Bernie Sanders' statement on the censorship of Ann Coulter at Berkeley:

      "“I don’t like this. I don’t like it,” Sanders told The Huffington Post after speaking at a rally . . . “Obviously Ann Coulter’s outrageous ― to my mind, off the wall. But you know, people have a right to give their two cents-worth, give a speech, without fear of violence and intimidation.” . . .

      “To me, it’s a sign of intellectual weakness,” he said. “If you can’t ask Ann Coulter in a polite way questions which expose the weakness of her arguments, if all you can do is boo, or shut her down, or prevent her from coming, what does that tell the world?”

      “What are you afraid of ― her ideas? Ask her the hard questions,” he concluded. “Confront her intellectually. Booing people down, or intimidating people, or shutting down events, I don’t think that that works in any way.”

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    8. "Tolerance means respecting a point of view you disagree with."

      No. Tolerance means I let you live your life, you let me live mine. It does not mean either of us is immune from criticism.

      "The religious are asked to show tolerance to viewpoints and practices which they find distasteful and harmful.

      Again, no. At least not on my part, or the OP. All they are asked is not to impose their lifestyle on others. That's a standard which, as Jaskoll and Rabbi Slifkin point out, they fail to meet.

      "The least the non-religious, or if that hurts your feelings, the less religious, can do, is reciprocate."

      Depends who you are talking about. Atheists are non-religious. People whose religion, or whose understanding of Judaism, differs from your own are not more or less religious than you.

      Reciprocate how? Letting you life your life in peace? Sure. Allowing you to impose your religious views on others? No. Holding yourself immune from criticism, as Shafran claims, while blasting anyone who isn't you? Not gonna happen.

      I'm not going to respond to your political comments, as they are irrelevant to this discussion.

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    9. But then you assert that gays aren't harming anyone. That is profoundly mistaken. Homosexuality (i.e., marriage & the public display of it) clearly harm the morals the country.

      You assume your own conclusion with the world "clearly". I would say that shaming boys from a young age for having the same very strong sexual and social attraction to other males that you yourself have for females is a pretty clear harm in and of itself. Not only that, buy many or most Jewish religious authorities even agree with that (at least outwardly).

      Feminism, for example, which has had a horrific affect on marriage and the family.

      You again assume your conclusion. Or more specifically, you don't state a position you yourself even believe in. Women's suffrage has destroyed the family? Women doctors? Women lawyers?

      Tolerance means respecting a point of view you disagree with.

      You can use words however you like, but this is not what anyone actually supports, nor it is even sensible. Of course if you state a strawman view of tolerance that no one really supports, you will find lack of adherence. What is supported is that those who take an unpopular viewpoint are allowed to state their position free of violence. And that refuting stupid and harmful viewpoints should be done with arguments and not by condemning the holders of that viewpoint to hell. The ACLU takes a lot of really stupid positions IMO, but they do consistently defend the right of speakers with home they disagree to speak.

      The least the non-religious, or if that hurts your feelings, the less religious, can do, is reciprocate. That they obviously don't quite clearly evidences the rank hypocrisy rife among liberals, and hence serves as validation for rejection. Leftists would have much better standing if they were to actually practice what they preach.

      "The non-religious" is not a specific group, but this is pretty wrong and I don't know why you cite leftists. Most groups in the US at least, religious and non-religious, left and right, believe broadly in tolerance and free speech. There is hypocrisy among all groups everywhere in all things; you citation of "leftists" as guilty reflect your ideological blinders. The closed communities of Kiryas Joel and New Square, where knowledge of the outside is shut off and deviations are punished with excommunication or worse are very much the exception.

      To make this more concrete, here is a message from the website of the ACLU. I think that you would call them leftists and I disagree with lots of their positions. But they don't fit your theory at all:

      "Many universities, under pressure to respond to the concerns of those who are the objects of hate, have adopted codes or policies prohibiting speech that offends any group based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.

      That's the wrong response, well-meaning or not. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects speech no matter how offensive its content. Speech codes adopted by government-financed state colleges and universities amount to government censorship, in violation of the Constitution. And the ACLU believes that all campuses should adhere to First Amendment principles because academic freedom is a bedrock of education in a free society.

      How much we value the right of free speech is put to its severest test when the speaker is someone we disagree with most. Speech that deeply offends our morality or is hostile to our way of life warrants the same constitutional protection as other speech because the right of free speech is indivisible: When one of us is denied this right, all of us are denied. Since its founding in 1920, the ACLU has fought for the free expression of all ideas, popular or unpopular. That's the constitutional mandate."

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    10. David Ohsie - you wrote a lot of words, but it appears your basic point is that you disagree with me over what is and what isn't harmful. OK, I respect that. But respect the right of the charedim to disagree with you. (If you meant more, I'm sorry, it was too lengthy for me to respond to.)

      David and Simon Fleisher - you're avoiding the issue. Go back to what G*3 wrote, which is what I responded to. He wrote that it was a common "tactic" to throw the tolerance trope back in the face of the left. Setting aside the judgmental opinion word of "tactic", what he is basically saying, though he doesn't like it, is that the right calls out the left on their hypocrisy when it comes to tolerance. Are you saying that millions of people on the right are too stupid to understand what tolerance means, and are simply wrong in calling out the hypocrisy? Do you think that will convince anyone not already part of the choir?

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    11. DF: It would help if you actually addressed those words.

      What I disagree with you on is your attempt to short circuit the conversation about Charedi intolerance by saying "well everyone is intolerant". This is not true. Sticking to the orthodox, the left do not engage in child abuse by gathering around young rightists and screaming epithets in their faces. Right orthodox will never quote the opinion of poskim those outside their camp, or even recognize their existence, while the left and centrist will. That doesn't make the right wrong or the left correct, but your "everyone is intolerant" argument fails.

      But respect the right of the charedim to disagree with you.

      Of course, they have a right to disagree. They can think that censorship and intolerance and violence towards other groups is a good thing while I think that it is a bad thing. They could even be right and I could be wrong. But you can't defuse the argument about these things with a hypocrisy charge.

      (If you meant more, I'm sorry, it was too lengthy for me to respond to.)

      Copout. Most of the words were quotations from Bernie Sanders and the ACLU refuting your attribution of intolerance to the left. I think that you simply don't have an answer.

      "Setting aside the judgmental opinion word of "tactic", what he is basically saying, though he doesn't like it, is that the right calls out the left on their hypocrisy when it comes to tolerance."

      What he's saying it is that it is a false equivalence by picking a strawman meaning of intolerance, and others on this thread have repeated that. You still haven't addressed that point.

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    12. Ok. I will try and be more clear. You misunderstand the notion of tolerance. You oversimplify the notion of tolerance. Your blanket definition ("respecting a point of view you disagree with") is too lacking in nuance to be useful or meaningful. Being tolerant does not necessitate always respecting every dissenting point of view. Let's leave questions of right and left for another time.

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  6. Some of them are the fault of charedim, such as the ever-painful IDF issue

    If army was the case, there would be no such attitude towards orthodox in US, where army is not an issue. And of course, hardly golden Tel Aviv youth half of who does not serve are scorned like Haredim.

    while the people at each level do not agree with the level of hostility coming from people to their right, there is near-constant refusal to condemn it.

    How do you know? Just because they don't publish condemnation in secular newspapers? And is the level of hostility from various chiloni groups, like [pseudo]intellectual elite not to mention parties like Shinui, is less than that? Ever heard the expression of throwing into mayim those with yirat Shamayim? In any case, you basically acknowledged that hooliganism exists in a small segment of Haredim, the rest is exercising freedom of speech which secular worship so much.

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    1. "If army was the case, there would be no such attitude towards orthodox in US, where army is not an issue."

      There is indeed much less hostility to charedim in the US!

      "And of course, hardly golden Tel Aviv youth half of who does not serve are scorned like Haredim."

      They are indeed scorned. Still, there is a difference between individuals who avoid conscription and a community policy to avoid conscription. Also, as I stated, this is not the sole reason for criticism of the charedi community.

      "How do you know? Just because they don't publish condemnation in secular newspapers?"

      On the contrary - they do indeed publish condemnation in secular newspapers (see Shafran). But they don't publish condemnation in charedi newspapers!

      "And is the level of hostility from various chiloni groups, like [pseudo]intellectual elite not to mention parties like Shinui, is less than that?"

      (A) yes, and (B), even if wasn't, so what?

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    2. How do you know? Just because they don't publish condemnation in secular newspapers?

      To site one example, there apparently is a well respected American Rabbi by the name of Malinowitz in RBS. He famously refused to protest or even condemn the Haredi men that screamed and spat on 8 year old Naama Margolese.

      His comments are still online here: http://btya.org/suckerpunched/

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  7. Am I the only one who remembers Shafran's response to a study on the level of domestic violence in the Chareidi community? He attacked the authors on a personal level and then went on to deny that there is any such violence, and even if there was it was minuscule compared to general society.
    The official Chareidi community mindset is a composed of equal parts of self-righteousness and lack of insight. They can insult but can not be insults. They can demand others accommodate them but don't dare ask them to accommodate.
    Just look at the comments in this feed. Sfoch chamascha is just another pasuk in Tehillim people say without thinking about what it means? Not at this rally. A good chunk of Tel Aviv chilonim avoid the draft? In general Israeli society they are scorned. In the Chareidi community they'd be heroes. What does that say?

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    1. Shafran is first and foremost an apologist for virtually any activities- good, bad, horrible- that occur in the Haredi community generally and among Jews as well. He is the Agudah spokesman and he clearly echo's whatever position they (whoever "they" really are, since they have have a monopoly on the Gedolim) are willing to advocate. Their prior attempt to justify MBP was a grotesque attempt at dealing with a medical issue they had no right to delve into- do you or anyone recall that they attempted to cite a study out of Philadelphia (U of Penn, I believe) that indicate it was safe, only to be rebuked publicly by the authors saying it they had no right to do so; they avoided the conclusions of the CDC regarding MBP as well. Before Netanyahu caved to the Haredim regarding the draft, Agudah called on the Israeli government to continue supporting Haredim who avoid the army to "learn" full time. And let us not forget their grotesque support of Martin Grossman, murderer of a Miami policewoman who received the death penalty (I can accept their attempts to request a pardon from the death penalty, but they not only mounted a campaign for this, but based it on Grossman's apotheosis as Baal Teshuva: he went from convicted murderer to Tzaddik while behind bars and this paved the way for public outcries of sympathy for Grossman over the person he murdered (her family was actually harassed over the pending death sentence!). And Shafran himself initially expressed sympathy for one Bernie Maddoff (and not the people who committed suicide after losing everything to his thievery) although this was rescinded after Shafran caught much heat for his misplaced attention to Madoff, who received it ONLY because he was Jewish.

      As for domestic violence and sexual abuse in the Orthodox community, Agudah and Shafran have much to be disrespected for...

      Conclusion- Garnel is correct: they can demand accomodation from others, insult others in any manner of discourse, yet not offer an iota of equanimity in return. I add to this their readiness and willingness to play the victim whenever convenient as this provides additional fodder for their arsenal of self aggrandizement and influence peddling.

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  8. This blog is starting to sound repetitious. Perhaps you should change the name from "Rationalist Judaism" to "Chareidim say the stupidest things".

    Though I, for one, would appreciate if the blog returned to its roots. The focus here used to be much more about what rationalism is. It's still right there in the banner: Exploring the legacy of the rationalist medieval Torah scholars...


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  9. which is a bigger problem-not publishing women's pictures so as to add a level of modesty in a hedonistic world full of pritzus, OR, the issues of negiah, yichud and worse that arise in your adopted bnei akiva society. does the issue of pritzus in the IDF pain as much as lack of chareidim in the army. maybe YOU need to check your logical compass.

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    1. Your understanding of modesty is way off - there is no modesty in banishing the images of women that dress and act within the bounds of halacha. If anything, it brings about just the opposite - it sexualizes the non-sexual, and causes heightened sexual excitement in haredi society.

      Do you know how deeply caring RZ society is about the painful issues you describe? Rabbis in the RZ community daily confront the issues you describe with care, compassion and varying degrees of success. The issue is being dealt with. That is far from the case when it comes to the ills of haredi society, which is why its issues must be called out more often.

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    2. Sex between unmarried people is just a Lav. There is far less condemnation in Chumash for someone who has sex with an unmarried woman (the man need not be unmarried) than for someone who cheats at business.

      The whole sex fetish Charedim have is just another example of turning Torah upside-down. עולם ההפוך indeed.

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    3. Unless the unmarried woman went to the mikvah, it is a chiyuv Kareis, not "just" a lav.

      Delete
    4. perhaps you are familiar with the concept of כל כבוד בת מלך פנימה. that applies no matter how the woman is dressed. the attacks here on chareidim are a way of soothing the insult caused by the ban of Rav Slifkin. attempting to characterize chareidim as illogical, is just a way of saying "what they said about me shouldnt bother me b/c these people are anyway crazy.". IT WONT WORK.

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  10. Criticizing a community is not intolerant. Nor is it comparable to anti-Semitism. Anti-Semites see all Jews as part of a plot to destroy non-Jews, extreme Chareidim reflect badly not only on their community, but on all Jewry.

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    Replies
    1. do u use artscroll? who do u think wrote it?

      Delete
  11. A community trying to advance a political agenda such as keeping its neighborhoods pure (however it understands purity) may find that violence or the threat of violence serves that community's agenda even if it leads to conflict with the government. Effective condemnation from within the community is counterproductive, at least in the short term, and requires a firm moral vision and leaders with sufficient authority who are willing to go against their community's immediate interests.

    ReplyDelete
  12. When you educate men to believe that a 6 year old not wearing black stockings is a prutza you create paedophiles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. False and falser. False that the charedi/chassidishe community educates men to think this way, more false that any (appreciable amount) of them actually do think this way, and falsest of all that it could create pedophiles.

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    2. DF, do you seriously deny that there is an irrational, perverted and dangerous view of sexual matters in Ultra-Orthodoxy, quite unrelated to pedophilia?

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    3. And yet I recall the live TV interview with one of the Chareidim who was attacking 6 year old Dati Leumi girls a few years back in RBS for the crime of not wearing the right socks and telling the cameraman that he was sexually excited by the sight of those bare ankles.

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    4. "And yet I recall the live TV interview..." - even if both your memory of what you saw and, separately, your representation of it here is 100% accurate, it still wouldn't negate anything of what I wrote.

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    5. There is child sex abuse in every social group. USA Gymnastics and USA Swimming both have their own child sex abuse scandals and it's fairly obvious that neither of them have prudish dress codes. The best way to enable an abuser to practice his craft in your community unscathed is to imagine that this is something that only happens in other communities.

      Delete
  13. Another excellent response to Shafran was posted by Amanda Bradley; it is well worth reading:

    http://chedvathashem.blogspot.co.il/

    ReplyDelete
  14. Haredi extremism: Alive and growing APRIL 26, 2017, 7:20 AM
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    BLOGGERShoshanna Keats Jaskoll
    Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll
    Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll is an American Israeli, mom, branding consultant, lover of chocolate and seeker of truth. Love my people … [More]
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    Alternative facts of the Beit DinOf ‘fascists’ and ‘libtards’Replacing the Torah with chaos: The Chief Rabbi seeks to undo a divorceLessons from my dogOnly we can destroy ourselves
    It all started when CNN aired a piece about Haredi Jews in Israel. Rabbi Avi Shafran, Agudath Israel of America’s director of Public Affairs wrote to defend that community against what he felt to be an errant smear. In this defense, Rabbi Shafran made a number of inaccurate and false claims about the situation in Israel and the Haredi community’s part in it. He depicted the Haredi community and politicians here as being simply ‘live and let live.’

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    As a resident of Beit Shemesh on the front lines of religious extremism, I felt that Rabbi Shafran’s claims cried out for a response, so I wrote, trying to depict the reality here, since his description was so very off the mark.

    Rabbi Shafran then wrote again. In this new piece, he attempted to dismiss and discredit me, and once again insisted that the extremism I decry isn’t really there, and if it is, it is a minority within a minority. Instead of dealing with a real problem and issue, he chose instead to deflect and deny.

    (This all went down in The Forward, where Rabbi Shafran responded to the CNN piece.)

    It was at this point that other residents of Beit Shemesh had had enough. Rabbi Natan Slifkin wrote an excellent rebuttal of Rabbi Shafran’s piece and Amanda Bradley did as well. Each cover different points and I suggest reading them if you want an even more robust understanding of Haredi extremism here.

    banknowomen
    Bank Hapoalom: With you every step of the way… with no women

    Left to my own devices, I would not have responded to Rabbi Shafran again. Being branded a liar and anti-Haredi by those who don’t like my writing against extremism is not new to me. But too many people who live in Beit Shemesh and see what goes on here felt that I could not let his dismissal of the situation stand. And so, here I am.

    Rabbi Shafran, misquotes and mischaracterizes me regarding censorship of women’s images.” I did not “bemoan how ‘images of women are disappearing’ from Haredi publications and brochures.” What I wrote was: “increasingly, images of women are disappearing from publications, billboards, bank and health clinic brochures in Israel.”

    screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-9-07-29-pm
    An advert for a class for mothers… with a father depicted.

    Public billboards, bank walls and health clinics are not under the auspices of the Haredim. I speak of public institutions and their printed materials, which are increasingly being swept up in the unholy tide of vanishing women. The phenomenon is growing and getting far worse.

    Rabbi Shafran’s claim that: “Many haredi publications, in the interest of the Jewish idea of modesty, have always refrained from including photos of women,” is wrong. Only the most extreme publications had that practice.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Your blog has increasingly becoming an attack ground for those who differ in opinion with you. If you you have an opinion, present it respectfully without putting down others.The metric used in determining whose correct in an argument is usually respect. If you respect others then others respect what you have to say the inverse is also true......

    ReplyDelete
  16. i believe the islamic community is reeling from this same dilemma

    ReplyDelete

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