Rabbi Avi Weinstein

The “Hareidi” Distraction in Emanuel

In Uncategorized on June 27, 2010 at 8:36 am

Oy! Just what we need right now.  In the interest of bringing light and not heat to the latest spat between the “klai kodesh” and the Israeli supremes, a little historical context might be helpful.  The uneasy meeting of minds between the Chazon Ish and Ben Gurion back when the State was very young, produced a reality that became known as “the Status Quo”. This ill advised agreement basically created a way for the non-Zionist community to gain some advantages from the State without having any responsibility for it. Why did Ben Gurion agree to this?  Avi Ravitzky claims that BG thought the Hareidi community  would ultimately disappear and the problem would solve itself.  The defection to Zionism from the young of the old Yishuv gave credence to this perspective, but alas, it was not to be.

For years Aguda, unlike Neturei Karta, has been allowed to declare that the cow (the State) is treif, but the milk is kosher.  Now, sixty years later, an unsympathetic Supreme Court wants to treat this fifth column as if they have to adhere to criteria that have heretofore never been the interest of the State. The Hareidim have always had an independent educational system supported by the State.  The Supreme Court presumably could have saved everyone the trouble and could have chosen not to hear this complaint. The Sefardim were happy to have their own school, but instead, the Supremes decided that it was high time to address the inequity of the status quo only to create social upheaval for the State at a critical time (it always seems to be a critical time). It looks like the Supremes have lost and have only succeeded in confirming the worst suspicions of a profoundly ambivalent community.

The hyper-clannishness of Chasidic communities can certainly be seen as non-inclusive, and is often racially motivated by many of their members, but the clash of cultures and perceived threat to the Chasidic way of life is not necessarily racist even though it is exclusive.  Just as rejecting inter-marriage is exclusive but not necessarily motivated by bigotry.

The major public disaffection with the Hareidi community is their exemption from the army.  That should be the issue that is worthy of a supreme court battle–how they choose to educate and with whom should not be the interest of the State and this is one spat that could have been easily avoided.

  1. Of course this could easily have been avoided. They did not wish to avoid it. It is not true that the State has no interest in how they choose to educate. In fact, I don’t think its a stretch to say that this is perhaps the most compelling state interest. If they were taught in school that the Israeli Government was a legitimate source of authority it would be very different place. Rather than seeing this as a useless waste of time and effort, we should look at it instead as the first shot in a long war. There will be many others including military service before long. A state cannot survive when large sections of the society are indifferent or even hostile. Israel is reaching a tipping point and the non-haredi majority will want to use its power to address this now.

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