It should come as no surprise that The Atheist Rabbi would have an issue or two with Haredi Jews, especially when it comes to the matter of “exclusion of women” that has come to dominate Israeli discourse. I have this in common with millions of secular Jews in Israel and around the world.
What is surprising is the large number of Orthodox Jews who are also at the end of their ropes with these people. Because they come into more frequent contact with them, traditional and moderate Orthodox Jews have witnessed their behavior up close.
The latest symbol of this is a seven year old girl named Na’ama Margolis. She was spit upon for her “immodest” dress as she made her way to her modern, Zionist Orthodox girls’ school wearing her long skirt, long sleeves and high collar.
I have been very concerned about this situation for years. Some theorize that the extremism has increased because of the increasing contacts between Haredim and wider society. Others suggest that they’re feeling empowered by their demographic successes and the weaknesses of Israeli authorities in dealing with them.
This video was broadcast last Friday night on “Ulpan Shishi” (Friday Studio), the major Channel Two news program of the week, hosted by the very popular Yair Lapid. It was in response to this piece that Netanyahu made his strongest statements about increased law enforcement and taking down signs that require women to stay off men’s sidewalks.
One of the most chilling parts of the item is the Haredi who promises that they are the future of Israel. This is not an Israel that I would be interested in. But I don’t believe him. Not when videos like this are being passed along with translation by Israeli Orthodox women. Hannah Katsman, author of the blog AMotherlnIsrael.com, is hardly an anti-religious radical. But she, like many other moderately religious Israelis, is concerned about this phenomenon.
Meanwhile, the Israeli press is reporting on fresh violence today against a Channel Ten news crew.
It is true that the story of the Haredim is not new. But is it possible that with these new twists the government of Israel may begin to take some real action against these people? They are a huge socio-economic drain on the nation, they refuse to serve in the army and they are treated with kid gloves.
Maybe it’s time to take off those gloves.