Monday, May 3, 2021

The Truth Becomes Clear - But Who Will Listen?

As more evidence emerges about what has been happening for the last twenty years, the cause of the Meron tragedy has become abundantly clear.

There is an interview with the former head of the regional council where Mount Meron is located who reveals that for years he tried to eliminate the dangers at the location, but religious groups use government connections and corruption to have the place "in a chokehold." There is a video from the day before the event, in which the charedi head of the local religious council gushes with praise for Aryeh Deri having bulldozed over all the objections from the Health Ministry. Deri himself boasted about how the secular authorities don't appreciate the importance of the event and about how the merit of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai provides protection. 

In another interview, a former senior police official points out that “If a safety engineer from the police, in their last inspection of the site before the commemoration, would have tried to shutter the Toldot Aharon courtyard [where the disaster occurred] — do you believe that decision would have been enforced? …Not even the chief of police can do that. If someone tries, that’s their last job in the police.” Due to political pressure, the event is, preposterously, legally classified as a "spontaneous religious event," thereby also preposterously entitled to exemption from ordinary safety protocols.

Many are also recognizing the point that I made in the previous post; that the Meron tragedy was but one manifestation of a larger problem which threatens disaster on a national scale. Namely, it is how the charedi community's growing numbers cause all kinds of problems when they refuse to operate according to reality-based values and professional expertise. This is compounded by how their growing numbers also give them the political power to continue in this path, despite its dangers not only to charedim but to the entire country.

A must-read article in The Jerusalem Post connects the dots with the charedi response to Covid, in which the charedi leadership refused to act with responsibility, and Bibi made the entire country pay the price. "If you can put the whole country into lockdown just so the haredim won’t be in a lockdown by themselves, then Meron is simply the extension of such an attitude." And another even more important article connects the dots between Meron and the charedi community's refusal to give their ever-growing population a secular education. "The Bank of Israel and Finance Ministry professionals have only just started putting these predictions down on paper because they have been so intimidated by the politicians. But even as reports surface, Israel’s leaders continue to turn a blind eye... [Netanyahu] is willing to mortgage Israel’s future for short-term political convenience."

Between Covid and Meron, Hashem Himself could not have engineered a more blatant demonstration of the fundamental problems and dangers of the charedi community. 

But never underestimate people's ability for cognitive dissonance. Some charedim are trying pin Meron on a police conspiracy to kill charedim, while many others are talking in general fluffy terms about Acts of God (and ignoring how this was instead an Act of Man). Some people in the charedi community are indeed accepting the need for respecting state control, but few are they who are ready to accept the larger message.

The crucial message to learn from all the terrible unnecessary deaths from Covid, and all the terrible unnecessary deaths at Meron, is this: the charedi community needs to make sure that its growing numbers not only do not present a problem of crowding at mass events, but also do not threaten national security and the economy. 

It is indeed challenging for someone to accept that their entire religious sub-community has an utterly wrong-headed and dangerous approach to religion and reality. Few are they in the chareidi world who will take the step that Jonathan Rosenblum did, acknowledging that the entire country desperately needs charedim to go against the Gedolim and get academic education and professional employment. But it's not only charedim who need to learn to take responsibility; the rest of us also need to recognize the need to do something about this national disaster-in-the-making.

The charedi journalist who warned about the dangers of Meron several years ago is beating himself up for not having done more to alert people. How many of us, who are aware of the problems and dangers caused by the charedi disregard for education and national responsibilities, are eventually going to be full of regret that we didn't try to do something about it? 

You can start by sharing this post.

 

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65 comments:

  1. Perfectly stated. Could not agree more!

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  2. As usual R Slifkin hits the nail on the head.

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  3. Zichron DevorimMay 3, 2021 at 2:50 PM

    As is to be expected, everyone will spend these days 'proving' that his biases are correct.
    Some 'prove' that the police are incompetent, others 'prove' that the police want to hurt Charedim, and yet others 'prove' that Charedim don't listen to experts.
    So nothing actually gets proven, because everyone uses this story to 'prove' what they already 'knew'.

    How does this post explain why the police closed an opening that had people streaming out of it?

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    1. Please give a link to a credible source that the police closed an opening that had people streaming out of it.

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    2. ZD, how could you argue with unbiased sources such as these? Especially when they are selected by an especially unbiased person such as the author of this blog?

      Delete
    3. "Some 'prove' that the police are incompetent"

      And it would be a diversion. It's like "proving" the firemen were incompetent extinguishing the Hindenburg.

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    4. "How does this post explain why the police closed an opening that had people streaming out of it?" And there you have a person who is completely blinding himself to the problem. (Because the place was a disaster-in-the-making quite aside from this one opening.)

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    5. The officer who closed the opening sbhould be held accountable. But the blame mainly rests with Hachnasas Orchim Rashbi, which is the umbrella org that controls the site for the Yerushalmers, and refused to renovate. (See the kol koreh on this blog post.)
      Its actually a (small) bracha that the disaster happened on this small area, than on the main passageway where hundreds would have died. This disaster could've happened anywhere in Meron.

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    6. The police officer(s) who closed or blocked the openings do bear some of the blame. To be sure, there is plenty of blame to go around. And a lot of it does lay where this article puts it. But if the entire Haredi world did listen to the state authorities, that would not have completely prevented this tragedy. There is also a culture here of cutting corners, bad planning, bad execution, and not taking the risks into account. The Versailles tragedy cannot be laid at the feet of the Haredim. Yet the culture that led to that tragedy is the same as the one that led to this one. The two arguments are not mutually exclusive.

      Delete
    7. Happygolucky...,

      Why should someone remain "unbiased" in the face of such obvious irresponsible, destructive, and even life-threatening behavior?

      Even if one particular "opening" was closed, your "whataboutism" does nothing to address the root causes of the problem(s) that resulted in the worst civilian loss of life in Israel's history.

      Delete
    8. JC,

      Of course one shouldn't remain unbiased. One should obviously blame his enemies, and place whatever happens in the greater context of all the other bad things his enemies do. And it should be easy to find media sources to prove that it was his enemies' fault, fully and completely.

      For a better approach, see (http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2021/05/the-message-of-meron-need-to-think-big.html). Hard to believe it's the same author.

      Delete
    9. Zichron DevorimMay 3, 2021 at 9:01 PM

      Just Curious - closing the gate is not whataboutism. If true, it was the direct cause of this tragedy.

      I am not saying any of this is the facts. Just that nobody will take 'proof' from something outside of his own biases. The Charedim are just like Rabbi SLifkin, they too see what they want to see.

      Btw, many Charedi leaders have mentioned a change of attitude towards safety regulations. It is not all that true regarding Charedim. See the Gerrer Rebbe (Reb Shaul), the Karliner Rebbe, and others.

      Delete
    10. ZD, The police did not lock the door. Besides, there were several other factors involved like overcrowding. Some people piled up on the stairs, others piled up on people, and even others piled up behind, forcing others to move, unknowingly crushing people.

      It has been clearly demonstrated beyond a fact that had we listened to the experts who warned that this might happen, this never would have happened.

      Delete
    11. Zichron DevorimMay 4, 2021 at 2:28 PM

      There are numerous eyewitnesses who say the police did block the entrance.

      People tend to believe the story that fits with their pre-conceived narrative. As we see here. Then it becomes 'clearly demonstrated', and their original narrative is confirmed.

      Delete
    12. Do you seriously not understand the point that even IF the police did block that path, that is FAR from the main problem??! Are you seriously claiming that as long as the police do not block that path, things are fine just the way they were????!!

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    13. Zichron DevorimMay 4, 2021 at 8:50 PM

      No, I am not a fan of the whole event for many reasons. And I think that there is an underlying stench of scandal behind the whole Meron phenomena, including millions of uncounted dollars being transferred to nameless people, hiding behind Gedolim, Rebbes and MKs.
      But until people see things from all sides, no change will ever happen.

      Delete
  4. The right response to the Haredi disregard of lockdowns was for everybody to disregard them, because lockdowns did not work and, as most experts said ahead of time, could not work.
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-failed-experiment-of-covid-lockdowns-11599000890

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    1. Ari Bet ShemeshMay 3, 2021 at 4:21 PM

      There is a difference between a disregarding lockdown by going for a walk and having mass weddings. Many of the Charedim had total disregard and went ahead with infecting each other resulting in many deaths of people in their community.

      Delete
  5. Ari Bet ShemeshMay 3, 2021 at 4:20 PM

    This is why the police make a choice between being attacked & called 'Nazi' and letting things slide. In the first scenario they are hated by the Haredim but people live. In the second scenario they are ignored by the Charedim and people die.

    Next year we will be sure to see unfortunately how many will force their way in to attend the celebrations regardless of what restrictions will be in place. Exactly with what we saw with COVID. But the police will prevent it as much as they can and suffer the attacks. But people will live.

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  6. A commentator above wants to blame this on the police.
    Given that the police tried to limit the gathering or even have it canceled entirely, due to safety concerns, that's a bit much.
    However, let's say the police DID make a mistake (I have no knowledge that they did and no credible source says they did, but let's say they did.)

    That why you have safety laws.

    Because PLANNING includes PLANNING for a worst possible scenario, not one where everything NEEDS to go PERFECTLY in order to avoid disaster.

    And people DO make mistakes.
    That's why safety planning allows for significant margins of error.
    And that's why safety professionals tried to limit the number of visitors, among other things.

    So, sorry, even if they did close an exit (or whatever else), the fault is with those who chose to ignore the safety professionals, who would have figured in this "worst possible case."

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  7. The first picture on the blog isn't appearing properly.

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  8. This is the most disgusting hit piece that I have ever seen and it only furthers the divide and misunderstanding between communities. This fosters hate and sounds like one of the BDS idiots who chooses to blame everything on one side by showcasing one viewpoint to further their grossly derelict and dangerous narrative. I am sickened by this piece. Maybe he needs to focus on the complete shameful disregard many Israelis have on screwing others. Or the complete lack of a moral compass by the secular on how they screw Americans when they visit the country. What about the apathy in Tel Aviv in serving in the army or even being connected to Yom haatzmaut. The road rage that kills weekly or the lack of ben Adam lichavero except in tragedies. How dare you blame this on one side when everyone knows that the police have no accountability and are completely out of control. There is so much corruption from the top down in Israel and you choose to create hate and blame one side.
    Start by looking at the totality of the situation and start fostering solutions with love and unity.
    I am still in shock over what you wrote. Shame shame shame on you and shame on all the hateful comments.

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    1. It's almost like this piece and the piece before (http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2021/05/the-message-of-meron-need-to-think-big.html) were written by two different people. The first is a thoughtful message about how Torah observant Jews, as their population grows, need to start taking more responsibility for the country. A very important and productive message that I think many chareidim could agree with.

      This one is, as you say, a hit piece consisting of a bunch of cherry picked sources selected to paint the chareidim in the worst possible light, and to prove that "their entire religious sub-community has an utterly wrong-headed and dangerous approach to religion and reality."

      Can it be that these were written by the same people?

      Delete

    2. To Life, You sound like an leftist idiot. Jews and blacks think the police are killing them. The police are not targeting blacks or charedim. The only time they did something to charedim was when Bill de Blasio ordered the removal of sukkahs for Sukkot. But Bibi is conservative and he is not anti-religion like de Blasio. There’s no evidence that the police locked the one door. We have no idea who locked it or how it was locked. It is pure speculation. Nothing more. It is impossible to know and we may never know, so let’s not waste time on blaming the police for an act they did not do.

      Furthermore, how dare you accuse the rabbi of a hate speech. Nothing hateful was written by the author or comments. You are paranoid into thinking that every critique against charedim must be hate speech, so much so, that you have forgotten all about reality. Shame shame shame. I recumbent you get an education.

      Lastly, the charedi journalist mentioned above and others warned us about the consequences that might happen for years. Actions have consequences and so the experts warned us about this.

      Delete
    3. Happy,these can be written by the same person depending on the information available, and emotional angst of, each time. Why can't anyone be utterly sympathetic for someone utterly wrong-headed, and in the next moment berate (still utterly sympathetically) that person for (allegedly) destroying himself?

      Delete
    4. Of course they had the right approach, and everyone knows it. They have been living just fine the past 12 months, with minimal impact to their lives. Meanwhile, the modern orthodox types who basically swallowed the garbage they were fed are still sitting there in masks, like nebach cases. But will they ever admit they were wrong? 'Course not. Better to sit in self righteous discomfort like a fool and convince yourself you're doing something, rather than be man enough to admit error.

      Delete
    5. A. Schreiber, I noticed that you did not address the fact that the mortality rate among charedim was vastly higher than that among non-charedim. Evidently, you're not "man enough to admit error."

      Delete
  9. Sounds familiar.

    'Hava nischakma lo, PEN YIRBEH v'nosaf gom hu al soneinu vnilcham banu v'ala min haaretz'

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  10. Hagon HaRav Moshe Sternbruch led the discussion that included all of the Dayanei Badatz of the Eidah. During the discussion, Rav Sternbruch broke out in pitiful cries over the horrible tragedy that claimed the lives of 45 people. Rav Sternbruch blamed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for the incident.

    Rabbi Sternbruch said about Netanyahu, “They (the Charedi MKs) are not speaking to us, they only speak to Netanyahu. They say that he is the big boss and that we owe him our thanks. He is a rasha and is evil. He desecrated Shabbos, eat neveilos, uproots Israel, he is the one who is doing all of this evil to us.”

    That's their response? Just sad . . .

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    1. Yet RMS is also the first name signed on the pashkevill above.

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    2. There is a widely circulated clip of the Berditchever Rebbe being interviewed at the site. He lays the blame squarely on the Toldos Rebbe. Try and see it if you can.

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    3. If the report is accurate (and they've been so wrong its necessary to verify), then yes, its just as bad for R. Shternbuch to blame Netanyahu as it is for Professor Slifkin to blame Charedim. Even worse, for as a talmid chacham R. Shternbuch should be better than that. As limud zchus it sounds as though he was overcome by his emotions.

      Again, make sure report is accurate.

      Delete
    4. Zichron DevorimMay 4, 2021 at 2:29 PM

      A little context. The Berditchever 'Rebbe' is a caricature, a sweet harmless one. But he isn't a Rebbe, he is just some character in Jerusalem.

      Delete
  11. Truth became clear? How about police that blocked the only path to the exit according to first responder? https://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/305467

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    1. Predictably, Lazar refuses to acknowledge what so many others have said - that regardless of the particular cause of this tragedy, the entire setup was a disaster waiting to happen.

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    2. As a Rabbi Dr, how much % blame do we place on the police inexplicably blocking the only exit, and how much % on everyone else you mention in your essay?

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    3. @Slifkin A disaster waiting to happen... for a century or so, and nevertheless never happened before even with much higher number of the participants.

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    4. I am disturbed and morbidly fascinated at your way of thinking. You are claiming that because it never happened before, that means it was never dangerous before. So if a kid wanders across a highway and is not harmed, that means it wasn't dangerous.

      You're dangerously insane.

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    5. No Lazar is saying that despite all the negligence in the past (as you describe) Shoimer pesaim and all worked out but now the police active negligence led to chareidi death (not the first time)

      Delete
  12. RNS
    You are being unfair here.
    1)Most chareidim would agree with the government taking over the site it is only the Zealots of the Eidah who opposed it and as you know they are a minority.In fact the chareidi Mk's requested it see in this Globes Article : https://www.globes.co.il/news/article.aspx?did=1001369385
    Unfortunately The Israeli ב-2016 בג"ץ stopped this transformation.
    3) The Times of Israel you refer to is talking about restrictions of 9000 due to Coronavirus and they are being very unfair in their article.
    4)I have a few friends who begged the police to open the blockade as people were strangling to death they refused as they were following this idiotic order. When they finally opened it was too late. (the blockade was their due to a man fainting at the bottom of the stairs.).
    5)The police clearly had no basic training on crowd control.
    6) Hillsborough had all health and safety and people still died due to a similar blockade .The police chief was charged with manslaughter.

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  13. Some of the comments are depressing. Even in death there is no awakening to reality.

    This may sound shocking, but I believe it to be true: Most of the Haredi community, especially the leadership, will ultimately believe - even if they don't already say it out loud - that the loss of 45 lives is a "fair" price to pay for autonomy and "freedom" from government interference (even as they demand support for their Yeshivas). It's an act of G-d, and we must all act with even more strength and conviction, not less. And we must not now in our moment of chastisement from the Almighty give in to the evil Zionist government. More strength and resolve against the government, not less, will be the rallying cry.

    When the very same mindset maintains that the Holocaust was a punishment from G-d for transgressions, why would we expect merely this to shake such a belief?

    What is the answer? A kind of civil war?

    I say this with sadness.

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  14. If they think Bibi tells the police to kill all charedim, the charedim are too far gone. This is sad. It's very sad want happened and we should not blame anyone, certainly not G-d.

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  15. You’ve been on the mark with appropriate sensitivities and critical remarks till now but this oversimplifies and pushes the agenda. There is a huge gap between falling for chareidi pressure to hold the event and having basic attempts at crowd control which clearly didn’t happen. Also, although you can argue that it’s an act of man, having that many pass away, even through negligence could and should make one think that it’s an act of G-d.

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  16. It's hard to know which is more shocking: Professor Slifkin playing the blame game himself minutes after telling everyone else how wrong that was; or his announcement that through his brilliant sleuthing he he discovered the cause of the accident, and, once again, it is...spoiler alert...THE CHAREDIM!!! Shocking, I tell you.

    You say we should "share this post". Does that make any sense at all? Why would someone do that? Outside your little echo chamber here no one shares your opinions. Does someone from the Guardian share posts from Yated? Remember: its not those on the right who need to hear from the left, its those on the left who need to hear from the right.

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    1. "Brilliant sleuthing"?! It's blindingly obvious! It's what everyone - including many charedim - have been pointing out for years!

      Delete
    2. Apparently more blindingly obvious than a police checkpoint, and less blindingly obvious than an imaginary voting slip in Yanki Kanievsky's hand in a deleted post you made without acknowledging error. I believe you had the effrontery to accuse the first commentator who pointed out that the picture you thought captured an act of voting fraud clearly showed no such thing of 'cognitive bias'.

      Cognitive biases are really hard to overcome. You aren't even trying.

      Tragedies such as this are just really instruments to drag everyone else in Charedidom into the Cherem with you. Shameful.

      Delete
    3. You're being idiotic. Absolutely everyone is saying that the place has been dangerous for years. And and it's abundantly clear that this is due to political pressure.

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    4. Nobody is denying that. That's part of the reality. There are multiple layers of negligence here.

      The only person idiotically denying reality - the proximate police negligence part of reality - the part that isn't convenient politically - is you.

      But yes, let's talk about political pressure. You've voted for or in support of Netanyahu for over a decade. You voted for corruption and political pressure. Own it.

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    5. I'm not denying the proximate cause. That should and will be dealt with. I'm pointing out that it is grossly wrong to focus on the proximate cause rather than the wider problem.

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    6. Your whole thesis is that if only things had been left to the state, everything would be fine. I'm sorry the facts don't fit your simplistic analysis.

      Delete
  17. "The charedi community needs to make sure that its growing numbers not only do not present a problem of crowding at mass events, but also do not threaten national security and the economy."

    You frankly have no right to say this after you advocated for businesses to nationally be shut down for months at a time over the last year.

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    Replies
    1. (A) Actually, I never advocated for that.
      (B) Even if I would have, it would be irrelevant.

      Delete
    2. You've advocated numerous times to listen to and trust the medical experts and politicians who have forced businesses to shut down nationwide for a year. Any blame for the continuance of these policies was not placed on those enforcing them, but squarely on Charedi defiance of restrictions, which "necessitated" its continuance. Please explain how this is irrelevant to you lecturing others about the state of the economy.

      Delete
    3. Nope. I've advocated listening to medical experts. Politicians have a different role. I've always been unsure about whether lockdown was worth the costs to the economy.

      But let's say, for argument's sakes, that I had said something completely misguided about corona. That would be completely irrelevant to the fact that charedim need to take into account how their way of life, given their growing numbers, affects the economy.

      Delete
    4. First, if you are unsure, you should not blame Charedim for the continuance of State policies whose morality is in question to begin with, particularly without a peep regarding the questionability of such policies.

      Second, do you consider the Israeli Health Ministry, who pushed for lockdowns, "medical experts?" And if so, how are you unsure of the supposed benefit of lockdowns, considering they are medical experts?

      And third, you wrote this elsewhere: "It is not the job of medical experts to decide things like lockdowns. Medical experts can (and should) only talk about medical consequences - but things like lockdowns have all kinds of consequences. They should therefore be decided by elected policymakers." Never minding the fact that the trustworthy medical experts violated their role and advocated for lockdowns, there is never questioning on your part of the policies enforced by politicians - just a call to obey the decision makers.

      "But let's say, for argument's sakes, that I had said something completely misguided about corona. That would be completely irrelevant to the fact that charedim need to take into account how their way of life, given their growing numbers, affects the economy."

      It is completely relevant, as my comment was not about whether or not Charedim present a threat to the economy, but on the hypocrisy of you lecturing people that they are a threat to the economy.

      Delete
    5. "First, if you are unsure, you should not blame Charedim for the continuance of State policies whose morality is in question to begin with, particularly without a peep regarding the questionability of such policies."

      I am unsure of the net benefit of economic lockdown in the face of all the suffering that it causes. Closing yeshivos and having people learn at home is a no-brainer.

      "It is completely relevant, as my comment was not about whether or not Charedim present a threat to the economy, but on the hypocrisy of you lecturing people that they are a threat to the economy."

      Ah right, that's the most important thing here.Not 45 dead, not whether the charedi community is leading the country to disaster. Just whether N. Slifkin is a hypocrite.

      Delete
    6. "I am unsure of the net benefit of economic lockdown in the face of all the suffering that it causes. Closing yeshivos and having people learn at home is a no-brainer."

      That wasn't the point. You faulted Charedi defiance of restrictions for the continuance of policies that closed down businesses, instead of faulting or questioning the policymakers who enforced these policies to begin with.

      "Ah right, that's the most important thing here.Not 45 dead, not whether the charedi community is leading the country to disaster. Just whether N. Slifkin is a hypocrite."

      We're still less than a week since the tragedy in Meron, and less than a week since you said: "The lessons can wait for another day." Perhaps it's a bit early to virtue shame those who haven't jumped at the chance to blame the tragedy on your political opponents.

      Delete
  18. Just to explain how rationalism works, if you have an event which is necessarily contingent on acts of negligence by both people you politically support and other people whom you politically oppose, it makes no sense to say that the the people you politically oppose are ABSOLUTELY RESPONSIBLE for the ensuing carnage. There's blame to share around, and I'm not just talking about the apparent police machsom which was the most proximate cause in time to the deaths. I'm also taking about the failures of planning, governance and oversight, which is a mixture of private and public responsibility.

    Fundamentally you could say the issues of corrupt political patronage are inherent to the proportional representation system uses in Israeli democracy itself. That is a structural weakness nobody is willing to deal with.

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  19. An Interior Minister who boasts himself of having preventing security measures would be fired in any other democracy. But not in Israel.

    Something like 90% of Meron pilgrims were haredim and yet no major haredi leader is asking to change their ways. Secular hate against them will increase and the country will be prevented to deal with bigger issues such as Iran and unemployment. This is depressing.

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  20. While you are correct about the safety issues, you totally conflate it with the recent political work of the Chareidi politicians.

    They Specifically, dealt with issues related to the spread of Corona (And the last few days numbers have proven, there was nothing to fear about Corona). This has nothing to do with issues of safety or issues with over crowding.

    Please lets not conflate the issues.

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  21. Between Covid and Meron, Hashem Himself could not have engineered a more blatant demonstration of the fundamental problems and dangers of the charedi community.
    ....

    God is Kol yochol. Do not try to limit Him.

    ReplyDelete

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