Monday, January 25, 2021

A "Charedi" Intifada?

Last night launched what some media outlets are calling "a Charedi Intifada." The videos are absolutely shocking (you can watch them on Yeshiva World News). In Bnei Brak, Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem, certain charedim launched violent riots. They set fires, they vandalized trains, they burned a bus and destroyed it, they even tried pouring cement onto the light rail tracks (which, had they succeeded, would have caused derailment and Heaven knows how much loss of life). 

All this was in response to the police beginning to respond more seriously to violations of Covid restrictions. These take place in parts of the charedi community on a much more serious scale than in the rest of the country, with the official encouragement of their rabbinic leaders. The results have been catastrophic, and so far there has been little enforcement in the charedi community (the charedi community represent 40% of the infections, but have only been receiving 2% of the fines).

To what extent can last night's events legitimately be described as a "charedi intifada"? It must be stated from the outset that not only were most Israeli charedim not involved in last night's events, they were disgusted by them. It is therefore misleading and even defamatory to consider it as representing mainstream charedi society. Likewise, with regard to the infractions of Covid restrictions which launched the police action in the first place, there is a distinct difference between various charedi groups and one cannot issue generalizations. There is a certain part of the charedi world (such as most chassidic sects and the Peleg Litvishe sect) who oppose any attempts to change their way of life, and there are plenty of other charedim who want to end the pandemic and are taking the necessary precautions.

Still, it is also not accurate when people claim that last night's riots are just the work of teenage hoodlums who are not at all representative or symptomatic of the charedi world. This takes us back to the same issues that we have discussed previously, regarding such phenomena as the violence in my home town of Beit Shemesh, the appalling near-lynch of a formerly charedi soldier in Mea She'arim, and last year's Charedi Day Of Rage.

There is a continuous spectrum of lack of loyalty to the State 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.

Each of these groups does not approve of the actions of those on their right. But, with rare exceptions, they will never condemn them. 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.

As long as matters are this way, non-charedim are correct to consider events such as the attempted lynch in Mea Shearim 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 the IDF and its advocates at every level and which almost never condemns verbal and physical violence from the right. 

Now, last night's riots are different from cases such as the Mea Shearim lynch and the Beit Shemesh violence, where the rest of the charedi community showed little interest in denouncing it. In the current case, there are many voices in the charedi community denouncing both the neglect of Covid restrictions and the riots against the enforcement of them. 

Still, there is not the same level of mainstream charedi condemnation as there has been against other things. And the mayor of Bnei Brak, together with other chareidi rabbinic leaders, are being just as vocal in their condemnation of the police as they are regarding the rioters. (Yes, the Israel police can be brutal, but the reason why they need to take action is that the charedi leadership doesn't care enough about Covid precautions.) 

Furthermore, while some prominent charedi leaders are condemning the violence, there has not been anywhere near sufficient condemnation of the neglect of Covid precautions which led to the police actions in the first place. The "House of Kanievsky" may make public proclamations about observing precautions, but on the quiet they ignore them and give permission to principals to open their schools. And it is the mainstream charedi politicians who are working to stop the government raising fines for Covid infractions.

But there is another reason why to completely disavow any charedi aspect of last night's "Intifada" is incorrect. As with the Mea Shearim events, the people that rioted last night do not exist in a vacuum. They are the naturally-resulting extreme fringe of a society which cares little about its responsibilities to wider society, about obedience to civil law, and which almost never condemns civil crimes, verbal and physical violence from the right.

And there's another factor, too. When you try to force an entire society into a mold which is unsuitable for many, many youths, with no option of military service and no outlet for leisure and physical activities, the inevitable result is that some of them will find inappropriate outlets for their energy.

You reap what you sow.

53 comments:

  1. This is a really good analysis, including a lot of thoughtful nuance that is rare to hear elsewhere.

    Slightly off topic, but I wonder why lockdown has to mean no learning Torah. Lechatchila a father should be the one to teach his son Torah, and doesn't lockdown give him the opportunity to do so?

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  2. You're a genius for your analysis, how about offering a solution?

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  3. You seem to be saying that if the Charedim were justified in their antagonistic attitude to the state, this violence would be justified. Essentially, you have adopted the position that violence is fine, as long as you agree with its purpose.

    As a Charedi I am disgusted by that. I fully understand and agree with the antipathy to the state. I find it a humongous Chillul Hashem that something 'Jewish' should exist without being based on Avodas Hashem. And certainly when it is not only not based on Avodas Hashem, it is not even constrained by halacha.
    But this violence is totally unjustified, even if the state is illegitimate. The first problem with this violence is to the perpetrators themselves. They are making themselves into פראי אדם and על חרבך תחיהniks. They have adopted the middle eastern attitude of 'win at all costs'. While fighting the Zionists, they have learned from the Ussishkin and Altalena debacles, and are continuing in the muddy path of the Zionist leaders of 'win at all costs'.

    I don't know any Charedim who agree with this behavior, but as I posted in the past, human nature being as it is, the entire focus will be on the misbehavior of the police, because homo sapiens are experts at self-distraction.

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    1. A chilul HaShem can only be done if that person/group is perceived as representing Shem Shamayim. Irreligious Jews are not perceived as representing God, therefore there actions will not be perceived as sacrilegious. Chilul HaShem involves other people perceiving the actions as a cheapening of God's stature.These Chareidim are doing a good job at it.

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    2. "I find it a humongous Chillul Hashem that something 'Jewish' should exist without being based on Avodas Hashem. And certainly when it is not only not based on Avodas Hashem, it is not even constrained by halacha. "

      And if the State was halachic would charedim support it? What is the top priority of UTJ/Shas? Money and protexia. They'd allow a Yom Kippur Rabbit & Pork Festival if it meant more funding for Yeshivos. Back during the 1880s pogroms, it became clear that the country had potential as a place of refuge. It was clear that the country must be built up to make room for those huddled masses. But the Old Yishuv opposed refugees entering the country because of the drain on the limited Chaluka funds. At the same time, they opposed any educational reforms that would allow the country to develop so that there would be funds for crisis immigration.
      And so the Charedim by default allowed the secular to take over State building. And today, the Charedim allow the secular to run things as long as they get their funding.
      You don't like the State? Then fix it. You can't fix an institution by siphoning off funds, you can only fix it by investing.
      Chilul Hashem? All you go to do is listen to Litzman & Gafni rant their lies & distortions. In the name of Torah? Hardly- Gafni himself in on the record threatening to shut down Yeshivas that didn't support his ideology.

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    3. "there has not been anywhere near sufficient condemnation of the neglect of Covid precautions which led to the police actions in the first place. "

      And it continues. UTJ/Shas is opposing higher fines for scoffers & now Gantz is threatening not to extend the lockdown unless fines are increased- because what's the point of a lockdown if not enforced?
      But the Charedi parties are more interested in saving money than saving lives.

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    4. As expected, you skipped half of my point, and only saw what you wanted.

      This post by Rabbi Slifkin was justifying violence, and I found that disgusting. His problem isn't with the violence, it is with the reason behind it. I see things the exact opposite way. The violence is absolutely disgusting, how do people who learn Torah arrive at this כחי ועצם ידי method of using force to get their point across? What happened to דברי חכמים בנחת נשמעים? What happened to the eidelkeit of Bnei Torah?
      I know that the people committing these acts are a minority, and are unlikely to be the biggest masmidim, but even a minority needs to be condemned (maybe they were, I hardly expect the condemnation to be on the internet), and we need to take responsibility for this chinuch failure of ours.

      But this post, that accepts that a person may act violently if his political position is justified, is just beneath contempt.

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    5. I don't know why you think I was saying that "a person may act violently if his political position is justified," but that most certainly was not my intent.

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    6. Haredi hillul hashrm is in their own minds...no Haredim and gentiles don't view them as God's reps in the first place. They make Jews look bad, not God

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  4. Closing yeshivas and kollels because of coronavirus is the work of modern-day Amalekites who desire to destroy religious Judaism, says this guy https://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=64756&st=&pgnum=41&hilite=

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    1. Hilarious! So what is Coronavius itself then?

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    2. I read enough. Conclusion: Murderous crackpout heresy. Korach wasn't עמלק but he was a murderous heretic.

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  5. See, when charedi burns a train or bus you condemn it but when BLM or antifa loot or riot all summer it was ok to break things. If it's ok to break things all summer what's the difference? Of course, any moral person would condemn such actions by the charedi just as we condemn the storming of the Capitol by antifa or the steel in the election, but what we need to be asking ourselves is why did they do it? After countless lockdowns, ruining the charedi way of life, it is almost completely understandable. Yes, we condemn violence, but we need to figure out how we got here.

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    1. First of all, BLM & Antifa did not 'loot or riot all summer'. Secondly, R. Slifkin did not say it was 'ok'. Thirdly, none of the above happened in IL. Lastly, antifa did not storm the capitol nor was the election stolen. Stop lying.

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    2. @Meir You sound like the fake news insisting that we don't believe our eyes. BLM and antifa did loot and riot all summer. Also, that guy with the buffalo head, the barbarian, he's a well-known antifa guy.

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    3. Alas you are the victim of social media conspiracy.

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    4. The biggest conspiracy theory ever made was the Russian collusion hoax.

      PS CNN is a conspiracy theory.

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    5. There were some cities where BLM was active all summer - I think Portland?

      But regardless: don't fall prey to the moral equivalency. Yes, BOTH GROUPS are wrong. Setting fire to buses AND breaking storefront windows ARE BOTH WRONG. Antifa is a well known rabble-rousing group, and maybe (probably) they were involved with BLM, but they were at best only a small factor of Trojan horseman IF THEY WERE THERE AT ALL in the storming of the Capitol, which was still - say it with me - WRONG!

      So yes, I can love Torah and want to end racism and still believe that violent protesting to further both of these are WRONG.

      OMG

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  6. If anyone thinks the tone of this article was harsh, see what this rabbis has to say about the same event here: https://www.facebook.com/michaelshelomo.barron/posts/923312045143898?notif_id=1611595742217500&notif_t=comment_mention&ref=notif

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  7. De Blasio would like this. Ins't he a big anti-semite?

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  8. I don't see how lack of loyalty to the state can be seen as only a charedi "problem". The dati leumi are the same way with regards to whats important to them. Case in point - the state passed a law that gush katif must be evacuated (and they did so because they thought it was good for the safety and security of the country). But hundreds of riot police were needed to be called in to fight and drag the rioting settlers out. Many police were injured. The rioters would have stayed forever if not for the violent police crackdown. Simular and even worse things would happen if the state ever decided to evacuate settlements in the west bank. And the dati leumi leadership (for the most part) would fully support the riots.
    How is this any different? Everyone is loyal to the state until it comes to what is most important to them.
    Moshe

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    1. You are flat-out lying about what happened in Gush Katif. The vast, vast majority of those expelled DID NOT resort to any sort of violence - they engaged in passive resistance, thereby forcing the police to carry them out. They DID NOT raise a hand against the security forces. Those few who did resist with force were a tiny minority, and we're called out for it by the leaders of the Gush Katif communities.

      As to your contention about how contesting the expulsion showed a "lack of loyalty to the state" - I note that the government then in power had been elected on the specific promise to NOT destroy Gush Katif - and then went ahead and did it. If you can't see a difference between (peacefully) opposing such government actions and the current violent rioting, then there's nothing to discuss.

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    2. This post was true about Charedim too

      The vast, vast majority of the Charedim in Bnei Berak and Ashdod DID NOT resort to any sort of violence - they engaged in passive resistance, thereby forcing the police to carry them out. They DID NOT raise a hand against the security forces. Those few who did resist with force were a tiny minority, and we're called out for it by the leaders of the Charedi communities.

      But the leaders have responsibility for the periphery too, in Gush Katif and Charedim.

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    3. ZD: RBS B is whole different universe, I am told...

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  9. "When you try to force an entire society into a mold which is unsuitable for many, many youths, with no option of military service and no outlet for leisure and physical activities, the inevitable result is that some of them will find inappropriate outlets for their energy.

    You reap what you sow"

    The main, correct analysis is at the bottom. This is the main issue.
    Chareidi kiddos had no outlets during coronavirus. No movies, no Netflix, no no literature (the copious chareidi novels are almost all entirely geared to girls , and besides the extremists behind the riot don't let any such literature into their homes). This is the natural result.

    It turns out it doesn't matter what society or race you arez, when people have nothing to do, it always results in violence, be they black or chareidi.

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    1. "when people have nothing to do, it always results in violence, be they black or chareidi."
      There is a LOT more violence in the black communities (US, UK, France, South Africa, Brazil...) than in the charedi neighborhoods. And the former have access to Internet, do sports, etc.

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    2. That's not his point is it? His point is that strangulated societies (whether internally or externally imposed) will eventually explode in physical violence and mental trauma, such as the very clear issue of sexual and moral improprieties in Haredi society.

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  10. I am confused with you referring to the charedi rioters as being "from the right". What do you mean by that reference? The term "from the right" is usually used in reference to a political position. How were the riots political other than anarchistic?

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    1. Haredi / Hasidic society and their politicians generally espouse reactionary policies, except of course in matters of specific socio-economic policy - where they demand / extort exceptionalist, anti-zionist carve-outs in matters of education, benefits, health and oppose general shared contribution to civil society.

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  11. Are they wrong?
    Our governance has forced us into house arrest with no end in sight.
    Have you heard any exit plan beyond "until infection rate drops?"
    And what then, covid isn't going away. It's here until it mutates out of existence.
    Are we to stand by and give up our freedoms without even a vote? Some would choose the risk.

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    1. Interesting. Why then did this reaction come from a specific secto

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    2. Perhaps because this sector have least recognition for authority?
      But then you look at Holland or other anti lockdown protests, you are right, there isn't a commonality

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    3. There is no "exit plan" because the infection pattern is still unpredictable. But let's assume the lockdowns and rules will gradually roll away as vaccination rates approach full. Go sign up now (if you can).

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  12. "When you try to force an entire society into a mold which is unsuitable for many, many youths, with no option of military service and no outlet for leisure and physical activities, the inevitable result is that some of them will find inappropriate outlets for their energy."

    This is unfortunately very true. Hassidic kids are forbidden to play with balls lest they get into sports. So when everything is assur to them they turn to doing things that are mamash assur. For example, every summer in Beit Shemesh fires would break out in the forest and fields surrounding the city. People would say that the fires were either started by Arabs or broken glass heated by the sun. Until an investigation revealed that local kids were lighting the fires to as a contest to see how big it could get or how long it would take the fire department to show up to put it out. Another form of fun would involve throwing bags of garbage in the street right in front of moving cars to watch what happens. The list goes on.

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  13. "All this was in response to the police beginning to respond more seriously to violations of Covid restrictions."

    This is inaccurate. What the police did on Thursday night went much much further than enforcing the law. Even the secular press condemned the police operation. Anyone who watched some videos of what the police did in B'nai Brak was disgusted. This of course does not justify violence in response, but this was the trigger for the violence.

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  14. I can't watch those shocking videos. They fill me with disgust and revulsion and sinah - even if not chinam.

    Rav Tamir Granot of yeshivat Orot Shaul has a fantastic lecture in Hebrew on YouTube:
    https://youtu.be/fy81oFinSso
    על החלטת האדמו"ר מויזניץ לפתוח את המוסדות.
    מיהו בעל הבית? בנימין נתניהו מרחוב בפור או ישראל הגר מתורת חיים 4?
    על האחריות, על התורה, על החרדיות ועלינו. והאם יש תקוה?

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  15. By now every rational thinking person should conclude that the irreversible damage caused by lockdown outweighed any and all benefits. It is a crime to continue enforcing a failed solution which is dangerous and terribly destructive. An economy destroyed and people ruined for life. For some life is no longer worth living. The government should rather focus on having an adequate health infrastructure which can handle the increased number of afflicted people in times like these.
    In the diaspora, we are enslaved to the nations and thus need to respect and adhere to the laws and regulations of our host countries regardless of how we feel about it. In Israel—OUR HOME the current regime aka government should have no bearing on the Torah observant. Are rabbis mislead and sometimes misleading? Absolutely. It’s a condition of human nature. But in this case they are absolutely right.
    The unfortunate reaction of the frum community is a direct result of an oppressive authority and the constant bashing of the media and hiloni wanton society. The repressed will act in very predictable ways. Anyone with an iota of grey matter realises this.
    Some might contend that the government supports them in more than one way and they ought to be thankful. So here’s why that is not so. Although one should acknowledge the benefactor and appreciate the good bestowed upon him/her, s/he cannot be expected to ignore the pain inflicted by the same.
    I do agree that Haredim should bear the burden of society and help the economy by being better educated so they can enter professional workforce. That is a conversation for another time and mostly irrelevant to the matter at hand.

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    1. I'm sure every rational, thinking person appreciates the lockdowns and is glad that he is not dead, and neither are his elderly parents. People are glad that they don't have blood clot complications which could result in lost limbs, dead chunks of internal organs, heart attacks, and strokes. People are glad that they don't have Post-Covid complications like fatigue, breathing trouble, variable senses of taste and smell.

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  16. By now every rational thinking person should conclude that the irreversible damage caused by lockdown outweighed any and all benefits. It is a crime to continue enforcing a failed solution which is dangerous and terribly destructive. An economy destroyed and people ruined for life. For some life is no longer worth living. The government should rather focus on having an adequate health infrastructure which can handle the increased number of afflicted people in times like these.
    In the diaspora, we are enslaved to the nations and thus need to respect and adhere to the laws and regulations of our host countries regardless of how we feel about it. In Israel—OUR HOME the current regime aka government should have no bearing on the Torah observant. Are rabbis mislead and sometimes misleading? Absolutely. It’s a condition of human nature. But in this case they are absolutely right.
    The unfortunate reaction of the frum community is a direct result of an oppressive authority and the constant bashing of the media and hiloni wanton society. The repressed will act in very predictable ways. Anyone with an iota of grey matter realises this.
    Some might contend that the government supports them in more than one way and they ought to be thankful. So here’s why that is not so. Although one should acknowledge the benefactor and appreciate the good bestowed upon him/her, s/he cannot be expected to ignore the pain inflicted by the same.
    I do agree that Haredim should bear the burden of society and help the economy by being better educated so they can enter professional workforce. That is a conversation for another time and mostly irrelevant to the matter at hand.

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    1. Actually - the worst of the 'hilonim' and the worst of the Haredim are motivated by the exact same depravity of thought and morality - they are, for all intents and purposes, aligned and allied in their sociopathic selfishness. They are one and the same. As for this statement: "By now every rational thinking person should conclude that the irreversible damage caused by lockdown outweighed any and all benefits." - this again, is an utter failure of (goyishe & haredi society) to live in and observe the world in a rational manner when faced with a catastrophe of this nature. An unchecked pandemic would have seen bodies piling up in the morgues (see Brazil) while the wider population was knocked out. Of course it is easy to claim that it would have been better to effectively 'do nothing' - but then again, this sector of IL society - especially its men - contribute nothing (with all the obvious exceptions) and keeps their societies chained in narcissistic social irrelevance. There is plenty of evidence (and hindsight) to argue for a structured approach to a pandemic, but this requires shared social transparency, education and access to a social contract that this Jewish sectarianism rejects.

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  17. Turk Hill, I'm sorry but I'm blocking your comments about how the elections were stolen, the Capitol riots were antifa, etc. It's just silly nonsense.

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    1. Thank you for letting me know (even if it is censorship LOL).

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  18. Hi I was wondering why my comments were not published last night as Rabbi Blogger. I spent a great deal of time writing them. Thanks you.

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    1. No idea. Never saw any comments under that name. I even checked the spam folder.

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    2. Sometimes the site is messed up. If you don't get a message saying "your comment will appear as soon as it is moderated" or whatever popping up after you press publish, then it's not taking your comments. I don't know what fixes it but when that happened, after a day or two it works again.

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    3. @Rabbi Blogger, I always save my comments in case they do not go through and delete them later when they appear published.

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  19. I do't get their logic or rather lack of it. It's Shoah Rememberance day today.Pray for those poor souls,brothers,sisters,aunts,uncles etc whose lives were lost in the most sickly way humanity has known.
    As for the burning buses -BLOODY GROW UP.

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  20. Rabbi Slifkin: "When you try to force an entire society into a mold which is unsuitable for many...the inevitable result is that some of them will find inappropriate outlets for their energy."

    Also Rabbi Slifkin: "Yes, the Israel police can be brutal, but the reason why they need to take action is that the charedi leadership doesn't care enough about Covid precautions."

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  21. Constantly posting articles about all the negative parts of a society without balancing it out with positivity is bound to bring to hatred.
    However rational you are being, and however correct you are in your assessments, its still not worth the hatred you are causing. Let me explain: if the reason for the articles is only to 'open peoples eyes', in my opinion it's not worth the negative feelings they are causing - People following this blog aren't the people who you are railing against. People reading this blog don't so much have the issues you're pointing out. So writing up about these issues is only strengthening the animosity between us. If you have a different idea of changing a whole society, go ahead and try, but spreading animosity by writing negative articles isn't the way.
    If you have ever seen positive changes happen to a society by pointing their faults out (to others), please share with me...

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  22. R' Slifkin,
    Although this in no way contradicts the main thesis of your post, and not to go straight to conspiracy theories, but I wonder if you had heard of this take on the Bnei Brak violence - namely that the actual arson was committed by non-Haredi kids.
    Of course, those kids may have been delinquents from Haredi homes, as we see plenty of in Bet Shemesh, which would still demonstrate a (different) consequence of the Haredi worldview. Still, it makes one wonder (as you did just recently) how often we allow our confirmation bias to strengthen our harsh criticism of ideologies and cultures we disagree with (however justifiably).

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  23. In which Rabbi Slifkins own comments of March 2020 are quoted verbatim. Accountability is good. https://elispitzer.com/2021/01/28/charedim-and-covid-19-response-to-natan-slifkin

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