Monday, January 2, 2012


A group of adult men spat on, shouted at, and generally terrorized an eight year old girl. They did this because they didn’t like the way she was dressed.  She was not wearing a bathing suit nor shorts; she was dressed in a long skirt and a shirt with long sleeves but they were the wrong kind of sleeves. So they called her a whore.

This was not in Iran. This was not in Afghanistan or Egypt or Yemen or even Saudi Arabia. This happened in Israel and these people were Jews. The men were haredim, the little girl, modern orthodox. And this was not an isolated incident in Beit Shemesh; it was just one more in a long and bitter religious war. Fortunately for Israel, Jews don’t suicide bomb each other….they just throw rocks and spittle.

The problem is that just like the Taliban, the Salafis, and the Muslim Brotherhood, the haredim want to control Israel. Not that they agree amongst themselves, which makes it very confusing. This is not new; it’s a 2000 year old problem:

Why was the First Temple destroyed? Because of three evils in it: idolatry, sexual immorality and bloodshed . . . But why was the Second Temple destroyed, seeing that during the time it stood people occupied themselves with Torah, with observance of precepts, and with the practice of charity? Because during the time it stood, hatred without rightful cause prevailed. This is to teach you that hatred without rightful cause is deemed as grave as all the three sins of idolatry, sexual immorality and bloodshed together.
Babylonian Talmud Book III: Yoma 9b
circa 500 CE

The ultra-orthodox do not share equally in the maintenance of the State of Israel. For the most part, they do not serve in the army, and certainly their girls are exempt. The men receive state subsidies for studying holy books instead of working. They do not pay taxes at the same rate, yet they demand more than their fair share of services. They verbally abuse those who do not conform to their standards, and that abuse can, and does, escalate into stone throwing and other physical abuses. They want all the benefits of living in a free country …one that is virtually tax-free for them….without any of the responsibilities and obligations. They want the law bent to their specifications and the rest of the country be damned.

Well, that’s not acceptable.

Sign in Beit Shemesh:
Women - Move to the other side
 of the street
Israel is mired between plurality and halacha (religious law) and it sure looks like plurality is losing. (Come to think of it, there isn’t really a word for plurality in modern Hebrew…so that should be a real big clue right there.)  I’m not about to go into all the details of how this is broken; the list is endless. If you’re interested, you already know. If you’re not, it doesn’t really matter, does it? But if you’re more than just plant life and follow world politics, you know this is not the biggest problem Israel is battling.  

The State of Israel faces many more pressing problems. Here is a tiny little country in the center of a sea of countries that want it gone. The charter of the incipient Palestinian state even calls for the destruction of the “Zionist entity known as Israel.”  So what does it say about the haredim plotting the destruction of the modern state from within?

In light of the ongoing onslaught of sinat chinam, baseless hatred, as practiced by the haredim, how about we have a 3 state solution instead? Draw a line around the haredi communities beginning with Mea She’rim in Jerusalem, and give Haredistan its freedom. They can be their very own country with all the rights and privileges therein along with all the obligations that comes with running your own state.

This would serve a twofold purpose:  first, it would allow the haredim to structure all the laws they want. They can argue amongst themselves and it  just won’t be our business, will it?  Their women can strap themselves onto the tops of buses, a la Mitt Romney and his dog, or go around wearing refrigerator boxes for modesty with just two eye holes cut out. The women could run all the shops and businesses so the men wouldn’t ever have to do a day's work. They can have their own police and fire brigade. They would have to run their own services and pay or not pay their workers as they see fit. They can dictate whatever they want whenever they want. And the rest of Israel can get back to the business of running a democracy without having to pay for haredi mishugas. 

Of course, there’s no expectation for longevity here. The Arab states will overrun Haredistan as soon as possible; because they never bothered to establish diplomatic ties with Israel or anyone else, there will be no allies on whom to call for assistance. But all things considered, they might find sharia more palatable than the Knesset.

I bet you think I’m kidding. I’m not so sure. But I do know that if the other 80% of Israelis do not stand up to those hate mongers, Israel as we know and love it will cease to exist.

No one wants to see Israel collapse under the weight of its own Taliban. But if it does, Midinat Yisrael will have no one to blame but themselves. 

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If you don't live there, having an opinion about Israel is dicey at best.
It's always good policy to fly it by an Israeli 
just to make sure you're not completely off base.
[Right, Jen?]


  1. Excellent ... thank you for writing this... Susan

  2. So the haredim differ from the Taliban...and from the American Quiverfull movement -- how? Just because a group identifies itself as Jewish, or is Israeli, should not indemnify it against criticism. What needs to happen in these communities is for the women to all leave. For after all, who will perpetuate it if there are no women?

    As for the opinion on Israel in general, I tend not to express one, because mine is conflicted at best. I see Israel as having been a misguided creation of the Allies after WWII as a means of atoning for the fact that they didn't give a flying f**k about what Hitler was doing to the Jews while it was going on. It was probably a bad idea, but like nuclear weapons, you can't "un-invent" it and you can't dismantle it. The problem is that men like the haredim and those who refuse to speak out make it very, very hard to continue to support it. If Israel is going to turn into Jewish Afghanistan, what's the point?

  3. Dear WP:

    While I fully find the behavior of the Beit Shemesh haredim to be reprehensible, calling them Taliban is neither helpful nor accurate. Like all fundamentalist groups, they hold a triumphalist view and feel entitled to impose upon everyone else. As satisfying as it might feel to imagine cutting them off and leaving them to their own devices, practically and morally, such a suggestion is not feasible.

    They are still part of Klal Yisrael, and as such, we and they are obligated in working out a way to live together. As citizens of the State, the State is obligated to protect them, and a State cannot arbitrarily transfer a population. So this is an issue that Israeli society must work out, and the Haredim have the onus as much as, if not more than, everyone else.

    As I see it, sub-groups of Israeli society have been allowed too much educational and social separation. I see the value and support the notion of allowing cultural sub-groups to develop autonomously. However, given the human tendencies towards xenophobia and tribalism, at some point the State is obligated to find a why to transmit its universal values to the population as means of preserving the health and continuance of civil society. I admit there is a tension between these two ideas and finding balance is difficult.

    Jill -

    As for "seeing Israel as having been a misguided creation," I am sure the more than 3 million Jews whose lives have been saved by having a Jewish homeland as refuge would strongly disagree with you. I would also suggest you familiarize yourself with a little history of the region before offering an opinion.

    The population of what is today Israel and the Occupied Territories is about 20 times what it was at the start of organized Jewish immigration 130 years ago. The goal was "a homeland secured in law." Meaning a place where Jews could immigrate and never be evicted from, where Jews could live and develop a Jewish national culture in their historic homeland. The decision to partition the Palestine Mandate into Jewish and Arab States was an attempt to stop the racially motivated violence of Arabs against Jews.

    If any decision was misguided, it was the creation of modern nation-states (e.g Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Egypt) in areas without a history of democratic discourse. Corrupt despotic leaders, who did not enjoy popular sovereignty, were installed and then these countries were left to their own devices. We are still paying the price today.


  4. I think you hit the nail on the head.

  5. Perdie,

    You wrote: "They are still part of Klal Yisrael, and as such, we and they are obligated in working out a way to live together."

    I think it's pretty safe to say they aren't interested in that aspect of Klal Yisrael, and in view of that, we are not obligated to allow their onslaught of sinat chinam to continue without comment. That would make us party to it.

    I'm just saying we have an obligation NOT to allow that to go on.

  6. Harold and I totally agree with you, Susan. In addition, your "editorial" rivals any we've read/heard in the paid media. Kudos!

  7. WP -

    Sorry, but they don't get to choose to opt out of Klal Yisrael, just like we don't get to choose to opt out.

    I never said we should allow their behavior to go without comment. If laws, such as assault, are being broken, people should be arrested. Unfortunately, as my non-haredi friends in Beit Shemesh tell me, the town is a majority haredi and the mayor is as corrupt as the day is long. The failure to maintain the rule of law is the breakdown of democracy.

    You are absolutely right to criticize. But after the criticism comes living together. What I am saying is that Israeli society has allowed itself to become too fragmented. The behavior is a symptom of a much larger, more systemic problem. Suggesting that a Haredistan be created is not a useful solution.


  8. It's too bad those folks can't be content to live out their austere lives in a country that protects and takes care of them. They could take a lesson from the Amish in this country (the U.S.A). But, they — like the Taliban — will not learn. They have no interest in working out ways to "get along" with Klal Yisrael. They do not believe in Klal Yisrael.

    My advice to the thinking majority of Israelis, change your laws. Take away the concessions Ben-Gurion gave them. Mandate away the special exemptions from this fanatic group, and force them to make their own way, just like any other Israeli citizen. But, you'd better hurry. At the rate these haredim are popping out babies, they'll soon be in the majority.

  9. From YnetNews: Haredi who called soldier 'slut': She acted provocatively

    "...At this point, Fuchs claimed, Matalon said 'Look at you; parasite; parasites, taking money from the State. I protect you.'

    'She protects me? I sit at shul from eight in the morning till midnight and study, and she's protecting me? I protect her,' the ultra-Orthodox man told Ynet. 'I understood who I was dealing with, so I went back to studying for my test and things calmed down.' "

    I wonder who he thinks protects him from suicide bombs and missiles? He doesn't serve. Does he deserve protection? This guy is proof that they spit on the State that cares for them all.

    It's time to make this stop. It's time to stop the special allowances and start treating them like any other citizen, Jew or Arab. No more free living for these parasites.

  10. Yes, the Israeli government has an obligation to protect and care for all its citizens, no matter how contentious they may be. However, if the extreme religious enforce their interpretation of religious law on others, how are they not like the Taliban? Secular Israel, meaning anyone not in their group and the majority of the population, in their world view is not part of Klal Yisroel.

    There is no real plurality in Israel like what we've come to know in America (and which, by the way, took a couple hundred years to get there). Everyone lives in the shtetl of their own choosing. Worse yet, because of the friction between the secular and religious segments (and I'm not necessarily talking about only the Haredi here), there is a lack of respect and an ever-growing level of antagonism between them. How you take these separate dichotomies and mold them into a future that all Israelis can live with is a huge challenge and undertaking. Unfortunately, beyond Tzav Pius I don't believe anyone else is actively trying to solve. And it certainly cannot be done when any one group sees themselves and their beliefs as above everyone else.

    And FWIW, the actions by this group of Haredi men has been condemned by rabbis all across the board in Israel, just not, to the best of my knowledge, by their rabbis.

  11. Noticed that this week's title "Haredistan!" acronyms to "Hides a Rant!". Mere coincidence, WP? I think not.

  12. This is so familiar to us here in the U.S.
    But these haredim entitlelists; we call them democrats.
    The biggest difference of course, the haredim-US are not religious.... just fanatics :)