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Legislating the Neighborhood
There was an article in the news today about various concessions to which Netanyahu had agreed in order to have the charedi parties support his coalition. It's the issues of unlimited military deferrals and no Shabbos construction which get most of the public attention, but buried in this article was something remarkable:
"Another clause stated that anything that might “injure” a religious or haredi way of life should be prevented in neighborhoods where these sectors constitute a majority."
This was particularly interesting in light of an article on Yeshiva World News yesterday titled "Secular Residents Protest The Coming Of The Chareidim To Charish." There have often been secular complaints and protests when charedim move into a city or neighborhood, with Kiryat HaYovel as another example. Charedim respond that this is discriminatory and hateful. But if the charedim are trying to legislate that as soon as they become the majority of a neighborhood, other residents cannot do anything that might "injure" a charedi way of life, then how can they possibly complain when other people do not want charedim to live in their neighborhood?
Of course, my own home town of Ramat Beit Shemesh is a case in point. When I moved here, eighteen years ago, it was around a third charedi, a third dati-leumi, and a third secular. Within a few years the secular all moved out, as life here had become quite uncomfortable for them. Then the charedi community tried to impose its standards on the rest of Ramat Beit Shemesh, with signs and letters in the commercial center demanding charedi standards of modesty, and local rabbis (including Anglo-charedi rabbis) trying to prevent restaurants from having outside seating areas. Imagine if they had the legal power to do this!
If you're going to demand that other people conform to your restrictive social mores, don't be surprised when those people don't want you to move into the neighborhood!