Charedi Community Interests Trump - Everything
As you might be aware, there is an enormously significant piece of legislation being considered for being considered in Israel: the Maale Adumim Annexation Law. It is a law with enormous national consequences. It would be the first step in annexing portions of Judea and Samaria. It would be a unilateral move with tremendous political ramifications. And, due to the new US administration, there may be a unique window of opportunity within which to do it. Some people believe that the national consequences of the Annexation Law would, overall, be very, very good; others believe that the national consequences would, overall, be very, very bad.
Then you get Moshe Gafni, the charedi MK of United Torah Judaism. For Gafni, the national consequences are not particularly important. The overriding issue for him is an exceedingly parochial one: a charedi school in Maale Adumim which the Mayor of Maale Adumim, Benny Kashriel, is (allegedly) trying to make move to Jerusalem. In Gafni's words:
Benny Kashriel is trying to limit Ma'ale Adumim's haredi community. I told the Prime Minister that if they don't want haredim in Ma'ale Adumim, we won't vote to annex Ma'ale Adumim. I will convince the other members of UTJ to also vote against the annexation."
Can you believe it? For UTJ, whether they support or oppose the hugely significant question of whether to begin annexing portions of Judea and Samaria is only dependent on an issue of minuscule importance relating only to a tiny part of their community!
Actually, I can believe it. Because we've seen this before, albeit on a smaller scale.
One example was when Lag B'Omer fell out on motzai Shabbos. Having bonfires on motzai Shabbos would mean that there is a risk of people who are lax in their Shabbos observance making various preparations on Shabbos, as well as the emergency services having to get in place on Shabbos. As a result, it was proposed by various dati-leumi rabbanim that the bonfires should be delayed until Sunday night. As they pointed out, Chazal made a much more drastic move to safeguard Shabbos when they suspended the Torah commandment of blowing the Shofar on Rosh HaShanah due to the mere risk that someone would carry a shofar to an expert who will teach him how to blow it! Certainly a bonfire, which is not a mitzvah at all, should be delayed when it certainly causes chillul Shabbos. But this move was entirely ignored by the charedi community. Their primary reason appears to be that nobody in their community would be mechalel Shabbos, so why should they change their plans just because of people in the emergency services who aren't charedi?
Another example was in the contrast in Beit Shemesh between the voting recommendations suggested by the dati-leumi rabbanim and the voting instructions ordered by the charedi rabbonim. In a post analyzing a number of differences between the two, I observed that the charedi rabbonim stress how Abutbol, and the charedi party, are the best for furthering charedi concerns and the interests of the charedi community, whereas the dati-leumi rabbanim write about how Cohen is the best for all the residents of the city, from charedi through non-religious.
And then there's the disengagement from Gaza. Some people thought that it was a fabulous idea and supported it, others thought it was a terrible idea and opposed it. The charedi political parties, however, supported it simply in exchange for getting money for their yeshivos.
A few years ago, in a post entitled Rosenblum Nails The Problem With Charedi Society, I noted that one of the most striking and significant differences between the charedi and dati-leumi communities is with regard to their "Klal Yisrael consciousness." Jonathan Rosenblum, post-charedi apologist, had made the same observation:
In the more than two centuries since the ghetto walls began to fall, Torah communities have often had to fight to preserve themselves. Those that followed the principle of separation from larger communal frameworks were usually the most successful in preserving their Torah identity. But that victory too came with a cost in terms of a diminished Klal Yisrael consciousness.
The dati-leumi world perceives itself as part of the entire nation of Israel and weighs its approach to Torah in that light. The charedi world, on the other hand, sees itself as a separate entity, and therefore doesn't care as much about the welfare of non-charedim, whether spiritual or physical. (For a discussion about the historical factors involved in this, see my monograph on The Making Of Haredim.)
Another problem with Gafni's stance here is, as Rafi Goldmeier points out at Life In Israel, the hypocrisy:
I also have a problem with Gafni. Not with his protest for this school - that is legitimate. My problem is the hypocrisy. When a Haredi yeshiva high school (Chochmei Lev) was offered plots/buildings in different mixed neighborhoods of Jerusalem, but were pushed out by askanim and residents, Gafni did not go out and defend their rights to be present in those areas, because he opposed the institution. What is good for Gafni's goose was not good for his gander when it came to school she did not like in the same situation. Further, show me a Haredi town that is tolerant of other communities entering and joining and using resources? Do Beitar or Kiryat Sefer or Modiin Ilit allow dati leumi or secular communities to join and then fund their schools? I agree with Gafni that the haredim in Maale Adumim should be funded like anybody else, but I'd like to see Gafni support opening up Haredi areas to others the same way he expects others to open up to Haredim.
Still, I think that the most significant aspect of this is how Gafni openly and explicitly states that the enormous national consequences of the Annexation Law are, for UTJ, entirely irrelevant. All they care about it is their school. That is the consequence of a movement which is based on the philosophy of cutting themselves off from the rest of the nation.