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January 1, 2012 11:40 AM   Subscribe

Yesterday, 1500 protesters denounced the Netanyahu government, carrying signs reading "Zionism is racism" and wearing yellow stars to emphasize comparison between the Israel and the Nazi state. “What’s happening is exactly like what happened in Germany,” said one man wearing a yellow star. “It started with incitement and continued to different types of oppression. Is it insulting that we wear these stars? Absolutely, and it hurts people to see this, but this is how we feel at the moment, we feel we are being prevented from observing the Torah in the manner in which we wish.” Wait, what? Yep -- the protesters aren't Arabs or latte-sipping Berkeley radicals, but ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem, angry about recent TV news coverage of incidents in which haredim threw rocks at handicapped Modern Orthodox children in Beit Shemesh who were using their wheelchairs on Shabbat. The angry crowd was also protesting the jailing of Shmuel Weisfish, a member of the "Modesty Squad" who recently started a 2-year prison sentence for beating and threatening employees of a computer store for selling MP4 players which might expose customers to inappropriate content. As always, Failed Messiah is your (admittedly one-sided) source for bad behavior among the frum.

Disambiguation: I believe the ultra-Orthodox Shmuel Weisfish who just went to jail is not the same ultra-Orthodox Shmuel Weisfish who's accused of bribing officials in the Education Ministry to get more funding for his yeshiva.

Netanyahu is considering at least one plan for soothing tensions in Beit Shemesh: split the city into two, one for the ultra-Orthodox and one for everyone else.
posted by escabeche (75 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
What social problem can't be solved by segregation?
posted by no regrets, coyote at 11:47 AM on January 1, 2012 [21 favorites]


So, the idea is to create a Jewish homeland of some kind? Odd that that hasn't been tried before.
posted by SPrintF at 11:47 AM on January 1, 2012 [14 favorites]


There's a very interesting article in Haaretz analyzing the three conflicting forces at work here, identified by the author as secular neoliberalism, the military and the essential Jewish nationalism of Israel.
posted by vanar sena at 11:48 AM on January 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Are these the same people who have been shaming little 8 year old girls on their way to school and making them cry?
posted by infini at 11:49 AM on January 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


Religious State is religious.
posted by swift at 11:50 AM on January 1, 2012 [10 favorites]


Maybe all the ultra-Orthodox should be forced off the dole and into real, paying jobs. That should alter their perspective.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:50 AM on January 1, 2012 [62 favorites]


Maybe all the ultra-Orthodox should be forced off the dole and into real, paying jobs.

This. The provision of a stipend for Torah study is what created the cultural segregation in the first place and perpetuates the extremism of the Haredi.
posted by fatbird at 11:53 AM on January 1, 2012 [16 favorites]


Although different factions within the religious public are attacking democracy in different ways, they have a common interest: namely, the defense of a premodern regime based on religious and ethnic exclusivity. It emerges, however, that the army is stuck in an ambiguous position because it has conflicting interests: It needs the budget provided by a flourishing economy and cannot easily accommodate certain religious restrictions, and yet, increasingly, it is being won over by religious factions that provide it with a new reservoir of messianic ideas about its historical mission of preserving and expanding Jewish territory.

Because the management of the conflict with our neighbors has become routine, the military needs a new source of rationales and justification for its existence, happily provided by the religious worldview.

posted by Avenger at 11:57 AM on January 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


(From vanar sena's link)
posted by Avenger at 11:58 AM on January 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Netanyahu administration is dependent on the support from the ultra-orthodox, so that's why he has allowed the situation to escalate to this point. The welfare subsidies they receive is just another issue.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:59 AM on January 1, 2012


as a general rule of thumb: any nation or people or religion that treats women as unequal will in essence be seen as less than democratic or contemporary or even decent. That group of ultras ought not be confused with the more "moderate" religious.

The same dumb thinking that relegates women to 2nd class by this group reminds me that the ultras after the Holocaust said the more moderate, liberal Jews had deviated from God's true path and thus God brought about the Holocaust as their punishment!
posted by Postroad at 12:04 PM on January 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Freedom for me but not for thee. The slogan of extremists everywhere.
posted by sbutler at 12:05 PM on January 1, 2012 [11 favorites]


So, the ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel are seeking to impose a form of Sharia law upon their country?

Yes, I know it's an inflammatory statement.
posted by hippybear at 12:07 PM on January 1, 2012 [21 favorites]


This is pretty disgusting stuff. At some point, it's time for people to start voting with their feet. I (admittedly) could be just pulling this out of my ass, but I think I read somewhere that a big proportion of Israeli Jews are eligible to return to their country of origin or ancestry. Obviously, doing so might be easier said than done, but the presence of a powerful, growing illiberal religious community has to be putting off all sane people.

Amongst secular and moderately religious Israelis, what is the general feeling towards the Haredim?
posted by downing street memo at 12:09 PM on January 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, what is the deal with the Israeli left? Are they really not capable of turning stuff like this into electoral fodder?
posted by downing street memo at 12:12 PM on January 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


A lot of media outlets - and this post - are painting these incidents as representative of the actions and beliefs of all the Ultra-Orthodox in Israel. And it's not the case. These are sick people with a sick agenda, and they are very much the fringe, not the majority. To the point where even mainstream Ultra-Orthodox are finally standing up to them. Occupy Beit Shemesh
posted by Mchelly at 12:20 PM on January 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


Are these the same groups that the evangelical Christian right in the US supports, in their zeal to see biblical prophesy come to fruition and, thus, the second coming?
posted by Thorzdad at 12:25 PM on January 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


So, the ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel are seeking to impose a form of Sharia law upon their country?

Muslim and Jewish fundies unite every once in a while to march against the Jerusalem Gay Pride parade.

Amongst secular and moderately religious Israelis, what is the general feeling towards the Haredim?

I have two secular Israeli friends, from a 5th generation sabra family. They hate the Haredim with a passion. As far as they're concerned, it was their ancestors who fought to create Israel, and the Haredim should go back and live in a stethl if they like it so much. As children, they were forbidden from using Yiddish expressions picked up at school at home, because "Hebrew is the language of the free Jews of Israel, Yiddish is a language for unarmed sheep who let themselves be pushed around".

I don't think they're typical of Secular Israelis, but that's the data point I have.
posted by atrazine at 12:27 PM on January 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


A lot of media outlets - and this post - are painting these incidents as representative of the actions and beliefs of all the Ultra-Orthodox in Israel. And it's not the case. These are sick people with a sick agenda, and they are very much the fringe, not the majority.

Isn't this what happens with all highly visible fringe members with fundamentalist beliefs?
posted by infini at 12:29 PM on January 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


All of this brought to you in part, BTW, by US foreign aid.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:29 PM on January 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


A lot of media outlets - and this post - are painting these incidents as representative of the actions and beliefs of all the Ultra-Orthodox in Israel. And it's not the case.

Yeah, this is something I was concerned about, and I could have done a better job with it in the post. I should have added, for instance, that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of Shas, denounced the practice of harassing women for wearing "immodest" clothes, saying "The behavior of a handful of people who spread hate among haredim and non-haredim is an act of blasphemy."
posted by escabeche at 12:32 PM on January 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


Also, what is the deal with the Israeli left? Are they really not capable of turning stuff like this into electoral fodder?

A significant portion of Israel's population is people who emigrated there because they wanted to live in the Jewish state. Or only a generation or two removed from people who did. I would think this would mean that there isn't much of a Left there.
posted by gjc at 12:38 PM on January 1, 2012


What social problem can't be solved by segregation?

Segregation.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:40 PM on January 1, 2012 [11 favorites]


Interior Minister Eli Yishai, also of Shas, has a more ambivalent stance about tensions between haredim and non-haredim in Beit Shemesh. I don't think he's so fringy; he's in the cabinet and the Shas party has been a major power broker in the country for decades.

But I'd guess 99% of Israelis who identify as "ultra-Orthodox" think it's grotesque and disgusting to pantomime the Holocaust on the streets of Jerusalem, and I should have made that more clear in the post. What percent think it's OK to yell at women who aren't wearing stockings in the summer, or girls who are using their wheelchair on Shabbat? That I don't really know.
posted by escabeche at 12:42 PM on January 1, 2012


A significant portion of Israel's population is people who emigrated there because they wanted to live in the Jewish state. Or only a generation or two removed from people who did. I would think this would mean that there isn't much of a Left there.

You would be really, really wrong.
posted by escabeche at 12:43 PM on January 1, 2012 [34 favorites]


A significant portion of Israel's population is people who emigrated there because they wanted to live in the Jewish state. Or only a generation or two removed from people who did. I would think this would mean that there isn't much of a Left there.

What a bizarre thing to think. Early Israeli/pre-independence Yishuv society was collectivist to an extreme degree. The Labour party had a monopoly on political power for decades.
posted by atrazine at 12:46 PM on January 1, 2012 [9 favorites]


So, the ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel are seeking to impose a form of Sharia law upon their country?

Yes, I know it's an inflammatory statement.


Yes, it's inflammatory because it is exactly like saying that religious Muslims (in the U.S.) are seeking to impose a form of Sharia law upon their country, a sentiment that most on Metafilter would be quick (and correct) to denounce.
posted by Wordwoman at 12:47 PM on January 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


I am not Jewish and am not familiar with Haredi beliefs. Many of the rabbis that have commented on this issue have stressed that violence - qua violence - is permitted by Jewish law.

But what about the real underlying issue, which is that a certain section of the Haredi community wishes to compel other Jews to worship as they do? Is that the rabbinical position, as well?
posted by downing street memo at 12:49 PM on January 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


*is not permitted.
posted by downing street memo at 12:50 PM on January 1, 2012


A significant portion of Israel's population is people who emigrated there because they wanted to live in the Jewish state. Or only a generation or two removed from people who did. I would think this would mean that there isn't much of a Left there.

Wikipedia is your friend.
posted by Wordwoman at 12:50 PM on January 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


It never ceases to amaze me how religious extremists cry for "freedom of religion" when it means the ability to squash the beliefs and practices of others; not when they have to show tolerance.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:51 PM on January 1, 2012 [17 favorites]


Also:

Yes, it's inflammatory because it is exactly like saying that religious Muslims (in the U.S.) are seeking to impose a form of Sharia law upon their country

I really don't see where he said anything of the sort.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:52 PM on January 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yes, it's inflammatory because it is exactly like saying that religious Muslims (in the U.S.) are seeking to impose a form of Sharia law upon their country, a sentiment that most on Metafilter would be quick (and correct) to denounce.

The difference being religious Muslims in the US aren't marching in the street and denouncing the government and comparing the Obama administration to the Third Reich.

Also, we're talking about ultra-orthodox here, not religious. Don't conflate the two, that's a dangerous way to think.

Even more, we're talking about (apparently) a tiny group within the ultra-orthodox community.

So, no, it's not "exactly like that".
posted by hippybear at 12:53 PM on January 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


All of this brought to you in part, BTW, by US foreign aid.

Extra bonus points if you can figure out the framing of

Maybe all the ultra-Orthodox should be forced off the dole and into real, paying jobs.

for the 'welfare sucks' and 'support Israel' crowd in the US of A. Be sure to pack your towel because if you get the framing right their heads should explode and the towel will be useful in the clean up.
posted by rough ashlar at 12:53 PM on January 1, 2012 [11 favorites]


This is why I don't support Israel. Any theocracy is bad, whether it's Jewish, Christian, or Islamic.
posted by mike3k at 12:56 PM on January 1, 2012 [11 favorites]


rough, if Ayn Rand can collect Social Security, then what you propose will never happen.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:01 PM on January 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hey Americans! Won't it be fun to give an extremist religious faction a veto over national policies concerning every citizen and every action of the nation!
posted by homerica at 1:19 PM on January 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


rough, if Ayn Rand can collect Social Security, then what you propose will never happen.

The Willi Münzenberg inspired Fox News is able to figure out how to frame things to get across a message why can't others?
posted by rough ashlar at 1:20 PM on January 1, 2012


There are very few weeks I don't regret the huge sums of US tax money (part of which is my money) sent to support a religious, militaristic, nationalist government.

The State of Israel is a great dream - but one that has turned very sour, to the point where even reading about it causes me great sadness. I feel similarly about Mr. Obama, now I think about it.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:32 PM on January 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


a religious, militaristic, nationalist government

But note that the religious think it should be less nationalist and the nationalists think it should be less religious. It's a complicated place.
posted by escabeche at 1:34 PM on January 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


You should be "free" to screw up my society and force everyone to be like you? Buddy, be happy that the rest of us don't have and don't want to have that kind of "freedom" when it comes to youu and your whole socially parasitic group.

Enough of this already. Make these jerks earn their keep.
posted by 1adam12 at 1:35 PM on January 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


But note that the religious think it should be less nationalist and the nationalists think it should be less religious.

Nationalism is also a religion.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:44 PM on January 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


But note that the religious think it should be less nationalist and the nationalists think it should be less religious. It's a complicated place.
posted by escabeche at 1:34 PM on January 1 [2 favorites +] [!]


Israel is complicated, but this is kind of dancing around the issue brought up above (Where is the Israeli left in all this?): Israel is a state based on ethnic and religious nationalism and states and civil societies based on ethnic and religious nationalism tend to be very right-wing.

It's telling that the closest thing Israel has to a real "left" are basically secular nationalists who also happen to be kinda collectivist. That definition of "left" may have had some pull in the early 20th century but the left in the rest of the world has moved beyond "Social Democracy for my race/religion, Bayonets for everyone else" for the most part.
posted by Avenger at 1:50 PM on January 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I do not support any kind of segregation or limiting of the rights of women. That said I am old enough to have been told not to sit in the back of a bus in Virginia because the back was for colored."
posted by Postroad at 2:15 PM on January 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Avenger wrote: It's telling that the closest thing Israel has to a real "left" are basically secular nationalists ...

Um, Israel actually has a communist party with elected representatives in its legislature.

As other posters here have pointed out, by US standards Israel is very, very, very left wing. Remember Israel's equivalent of the "Occupy" movement? They had something like 10% of the country demonstrating for "a reduction in indirect taxes and a tax increase for high earners, rent controls, free education from the age of three months, limits on privatisation, and an increase in the minimum wage." One of the representatives elected by the Likud - the supposedly right-wing party lead by Binyamin Netanyahu - recently proposed an 80% tax rate on high income earners. She had no hope of getting her proposal accepted, but it shows you where the national debate is coming from.

In contrast, I would say that the USA has no left-wing movement of any real significance. The very word "socialist" is a term of political abuse, like "fascist" is a term of abuse in European politics. The USA is probably the only place where a billionaire technocrat with an empire built on sweated labor could be described as "left wing". That's what a country without "a real left" looks like.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:24 PM on January 1, 2012 [29 favorites]


I don't think there's anything "supposedly" right wing about Likud. We should also have in mind that right and left are not defined solely by economic policy.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:38 PM on January 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


> In contrast, I would say that the USA has no left-wing movement of any real significance.

The Occupy movement is very left-wing. Whether it will be effective remains to be seen...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:51 PM on January 1, 2012


We should also have in mind that right and left are not defined solely by economic policy.

You might be interested in reading the opinion pages of Haaretz, a mainstream Israeli newspaper.
posted by Wordwoman at 4:04 PM on January 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


You might be interested in reading the opinion pages of Haaretz, a mainstream Israeli newspaper.

Thanks, but I'm speaking to Likud's policies; not a newspaper's editorial policies. I think Israel does have a fairly good grasp of social democratic economic policies. It's the civil rights issue that makes me put a big question mark next to the notion of Israel being a left-wing country. But as has been mentioned before, it's a complex society we're talking about here, and I hesitate to view the country or its people in black-or-white terms.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:19 PM on January 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've wished for many superpowers in my time--flight, teleportation, super strength, all the usual stuff--but right now what I really want is the ability to inflict at a distance blinding moments of clarity and self-examination.

It would help in situations where people would be made to stop for a second and think "Holy shit, I am throwing rocks at a handicapped child...maybe I should step back and rethink my priorities a bit".
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:14 PM on January 1, 2012 [20 favorites]


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing, of course Likud is generally to the right in Israel insofar as right/left mean anything. But my point is that Israel as a whole is generally left wing, and even that political consensus has a very large and vibrant movement to its left. Even Likud supports a multicultural democracy - some of its strongest supporters are actually Druse, not Jewish. So Avenger's description of Israel's left as "Social Democracy for my race/religion, Bayonets for everyone else" is just silly.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:14 PM on January 1, 2012


Even Likud supports a multicultural democracy

"Multicultural democracy" is so, so utterly and completely far away from the standard definition of Zionism that I have absolutely no idea what planet the Israel you describe is currently located on.

I mean, you are literally describing the exact opposite of what Israel is and aspires to be. We can disagree about Israeli policies but let's not fool ourselves into thinking that Israel is some kind of grand experiment in post-modern multiculturalism.
posted by Avenger at 5:21 PM on January 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


The wheelchair bit sure puts "and I sure as shit don't fucking roll on shomer fucking shabbos!" in a different light...
posted by disillusioned at 5:23 PM on January 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


So, the ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel are seeking to impose a form of Sharia law upon their country?

Yes, I know it's an inflammatory statement.
Yes, it's inflammatory because it is exactly like saying that religious Muslims (in the U.S.) are seeking to impose a form of Sharia law upon their country, a sentiment that most on Metafilter would be quick (and correct) to denounce.

Actually, I know people from Israel, and have Isreali relatives, and they call these people, and even the Haredim in general, "the Jewish Taliban," all the time.
posted by xetere at 6:17 PM on January 1, 2012


So, the ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel are seeking to impose a form of Sharia law upon their country?

Yes, I know it's an inflammatory statement.

Yes, it's inflammatory because it is exactly like saying that religious Muslims (in the U.S.) are seeking to impose a form of Sharia law upon their country, a sentiment that most on Metafilter would be quick (and correct) to denounce.


Word woman i don't think you have the right analogy: Its exactly like saying that the Fundamentalist Christians in the U.S. are seeking to impose a form of Sharia law upon their country. Which, of course, is true.
posted by jindc at 6:33 PM on January 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


Avenger, I'll put it in concrete terms: When I say Israel is a "multicultural democracy" I mean that it is more like (and aspires to be more like) Canada than Egypt. Except for the climate.

I could construct a narrative in which Canada is the worst place in the world, a modern colonialist gulag dedicated to erasing the rights of its minorities and/or the civil liberties of its citizens generally ... but that wouldn't be true, just as your characterisation of Israel left as "Social Democracy for my race/religion, Bayonets for everyone else" isn't true.

Incidentally, right now the Middle East is aflame with groups demanding "Bayonets for everyone else" - or actually using them to achieve a more pure and less diverse region. I'm not saying that people shouldn't address Israel's admitted problems, but this sort of hyperfocus is the reason why Libya and Syria were represented on international rights bodies while they were massacring opponents at home. I wish I could propose some sort of metric determining when criticism is justified, but it's worth taking a step back and asking why the bulk of anti-Israel criticism seems to be driven by the enemies of liberal human rights, and whether they're using it as a diversionary tactic.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:34 PM on January 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


If we elect someone to punch the shit out of everyone, do you think that might help?
I do mean everyone. All 7 trillion of us. Have an apple, it's the last one.
posted by a shrill fucking shitstripe at 7:05 PM on January 1, 2012


the bulk of anti-Israel criticism seems to be driven by the enemies of liberal human rights

That's a mighty bold statement to make, and one hard to accept as fact in light of Amnesty International coming down pretty hard on the Israeli government - as they do with the other countries you mentioned.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:13 PM on January 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


If your religion sees women as inferior, unclean, or sinful, it needs to be done away with, sooner the better. I don't care what it is.
posted by Legomancer at 7:32 PM on January 1, 2012 [17 favorites]


When I say Israel is a "multicultural democracy" I mean that it is more like (and aspires to be more like) Canada than Egypt

So Canada is an English Homeland who's reason for existence is the preservation of the Anglican religion and the English race from extinction? And must maintain an English-majority in order to remain a viable state?

Again, I'm not totally sure what reality you are describing here. In all honesty, I respect Zionism as an idea too much to pretend that it's some kind of modern, progressive ideology rooted in freedom and self-determination. I disagree with Zionism wholly, but I also just respect it too much to be that disingenuous about it.
posted by Avenger at 7:33 PM on January 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


In the same manner as I'm under no illusions about the religious and political aspirations of the newly democratic North African states. They are well on their way to becoming very illiberal democracies, and that's a bad thing. But that doesn't suddenly make ethno-theo-nationalism any better.
posted by Avenger at 7:36 PM on January 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


So Canada is an English Homeland who's reason for existence is the preservation of the Anglican religion and the English race from extinction? And must maintain an English-majority in order to remain a viable state?

If that means that we'll have pork pies and Wensleydale cheese in every grocery store, let Can-Eng-da live forever!

also bigger marmite jars. But we keep the Canadian donuts, English donuts are terrible.
posted by jb at 8:16 PM on January 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Marisa stole the precious thing: It never ceases to amaze me how religious extremists cry for "freedom of religion" when it means the ability to squash the beliefs and practices of others;

Religious 'freedom' does tend to be about the freedom to persecute, more often than freedom from. Take the puritans, for instance* (QI).


* No, please, take them! (Oh, wait...).
posted by titus-g at 8:19 PM on January 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


So Canada is an English Homeland who's reason for existence is the preservation of the Anglican religion and the English race from extinction? And must maintain an English-majority in order to remain a viable state?

You know, if we extrapolate this analogy even further, the Acadians spring to mind.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:23 PM on January 1, 2012


Israel's Other Demographic Time Bomb
posted by homunculus at 8:27 PM on January 1, 2012


I wish I could propose some sort of metric determining when criticism is justified...

I realize I'm taking that completely out of context, but: If you drew a flowchart to help you, and you have a diamond labelled "Is someone stoning handicapped children for using wheelchairs?", I'm pretty darn sure that the "YES" arrow would point at a box saying "Criticism Justified."

Come on, I mean that sounds like a rejected plot for something that a Batman villain would do, before the editor made the writers replace it with something more subtle, like shoveling orphaned puppies into a furnace fueled by the only copy of a third season of Firefly.
posted by sourcequench at 8:39 PM on January 1, 2012 [11 favorites]


A state founded on religious principles can never be a modern democracy.

Just ask Iran.
posted by bardic at 10:15 PM on January 1, 2012


this sort of hyperfocus is the reason why Libya and Syria were represented on international rights bodies while they were massacring opponents at home.

The reason why? What about the represention of countries like China in the very groups you are talking about? Is the reason for that too much focus on Israel? Or is it actually massively more complex than that?

There is excessive focus on Israeli abuses because there is excessive excusing of and direct and indirect support for Israeli abuses. If this thread were about China, you'd never see someone complaining that too much focus on China is letting India get away with with a dubious human rights record, even though it's arguably true.
posted by howfar at 10:41 PM on January 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, what is the deal with the Israeli left? Are they really not capable of turning stuff like this into electoral fodder?

Two words: Ehud Barak.
posted by Skeptic at 5:04 AM on January 2, 2012


The provision of a stipend for Torah study is what created the cultural segregation in the first place and perpetuates the extremism of the Haredi.

It's a little more complicated than that. Some of the Ashkenazi Haredim began migrating to what is now Israel in the early 1700s and have always lived apart from both the indigenous Jewish population that was already there and the Zionist immigrants who came after. The community's segregation was not created by Torah study stipend, although it certainly may be a factor in the perpetuation of it, at least among the Haredi groups that support the State of Israel and the several who reluctantly engage with it as the de facto authority where they live.

Mea Sha'arim, however, is a small insular community within Jerusalem that was established in 1847. At the time of it's establishment, there was an actual wall that separated it from the rest of the city. I don't know if that's still a physical reality, but it's certainly still a cultural one. It is my understanding that all of the sects who live there shun participation in Israeli society and politics and do not accept government money. They're sort of like the Amish of Israel.
posted by snottydick at 10:09 AM on January 4, 2012


Shameless hussies flaunting their limbs to Queen's Don't Stop Me Now, Bet Shemesh Friday, Jan 6th 2011. (via)
A Haredi response is eagerly anticipated. Perhaps Bohemian Rhapsody?
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:14 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


In Jerusalem, women are voiceless at a decidedly womanly event: "The controversial exclusion of women from various settings in Israel because of pressure from ultra-Orthodox Jewish leaders reached a new level this week with a major conference on gynecological advances that is permitting only males to address the audience."
posted by homunculus at 7:09 PM on January 10, 2012


To be fair, that headline and description are really misleading -- it's not a conference on gynecological advances. It's not a medical event at all. It's a conference on gynecolegical innovations and their impact on Jewish law, aimed at an Orthodox audience. Not a forum for doctors to present their findings to an audience of other gynecologists or scientists, but rather a lecture series on a modern issue or innovation in gynecology and what the halachic ramifications of that would be (whether new IVF procedures would be allowed on the sabbath, for example). "The conference integrates Torah lectures from important Rabbis and top ranking medical specialists in their area of specialty. The conference is basically geared towards rabbis, rebbetzins, chatan and kallah mentors [premarital counselors], mikveh attendants, and professional men and women interested in medicine and halacha." A hundred years ago only rabbis (men) would be speaking at such a gathering, and only men would be allowed in the audience. Only in the past few decades has it become possible for learned women to share such a stage and take for granted that they can attend. This is pushback against that trend, but it could just as easily be seen as a sign of how many inroads Orthodox women have made that these rights are now being seen as threatening enough to be taken away.

So while it's really shameful that women gynecologists are not being allowed to speak there to a mixed audience of men and women, and it is absolutely something that the Orthodox (non-Chareidi) community is trying to fight (and I hope they will somehow succeed now that people are realizing the extent of the craziness when left unchecked), it has absolutely no impact on secular or even traditional Israeli women gynecologists.

Painting it as another example of how the ultra-Orthodox are taking away ordinary women's rights or stomping down pluralism in the country as a whole is a good way to sell newspapers and increase outrage against an easy target, but it's dishonest. They are stomping down the rights of Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox women, and that's bad enough.
posted by Mchelly at 9:32 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah. Thanks for clarifying that.
posted by homunculus at 11:32 PM on January 10, 2012


Israel Faces Crisis Over Role of Ultra-Orthodox in Society
posted by homunculus at 11:57 AM on January 15, 2012


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