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Tag: secular

The Real Way to Get The Haredi Community Drafted to IDF

As long as there is no Halakha law that allows Haredi Israelis to join IDF we won’t see it happen. The way to get the Haredi community drafted to IDF is not by state law, it requires a perceptual change.

The issue of Haredi Israelis not getting drafted to study Torah, or evading the army as the secular public refers to it, has been a hot topic within Israel for more than a decade. It comes down to, as disagreements tend to be, to different points of view that create a collision and amount to resentment, distance, misunderstanding and especially no results.

Most non Haredi (i.e. religious, traditional, secular and all the wide range of Jewish communities within Israel) will say the Arabic threat is so acute, present and immediate that joining IDF, protecting Israel by military force is the biggest and most meaningful service one should complete. In fact, a large percent of people from these non Haredi communities consider being a soldier in IDF a national duty and support the mandatory drafting in Israel.

According to Haredi belief the Jewish people must learn Torah at all times, if not – the world will come to its end. The phenomena of studding Torah instead of providing ones family, paying taxes or serve the army is actually legitimate among the Haredi community; according to an ancient packet, still valid by Haredi law, between the tribe of Zebulun and the tribe of Issachar, a mutual symbiosis is suppose to be between those who study Torah and those who provide for them.

As Haredi Israelis do not consider the state of Israel as an authority, the Tal’s law will not be efficient in any way. As long as there is no Halakha Law that orders Haredi Israelis to join the army, no Haredi will dare to do so. A change in Halakha orders will only be achieved by a groundbreaking change in the rigid stands taken by the different sides. As do most disagreements, this issue requires a new kind of dialog, being conveyed through a common language between the different points of view.

Haredim Continue to Scream up a Storm

Well, several weeks have went by, and the Harta parking lot is still open. Now the Haredim are really pissed off, and they’ve decided to, in the words of Emeril Lagasse, kick it up a notch. In the last two days of protests, a Haredi man was run over by a car after he literally threw himself under it, six policemen were injured, and 16 were arrested.

Haredim parking lotIt’s now a battle of wills between mayor Nir Barkat and Haredi stubbornness. At some point, one of them is going to break, but both seem dead set on maintaining vigilance. Police reported an increase in the level of violence, the amount of people participating, the attempts to block roads and the parking lot itself, none of which succeeded. If you’re a policemen, at least your days are no longer boring.

Despite the ratcheting up, the police have no plans to instruct the mayor to shut down the parking lot.

I remember being at a rally recently on Tisha B’Av, where a group of religious nationalists were attending a rally circling the old city of Jerusalem mourning the destruction of the Temple. Meanwhile, upon exiting this rally, I walked through the Haredi Neighborhood of Meah Shearim. There, there was a different Tisha B’Av rally going on, about the parking lot.

Picture it. National religious Jews are circling Jerusalem and mourning the Temple. Haredim mourning the opening of a parking lot. There is something of an obsession here that has taken hold of the Haredi community and caused them to lose their Jewish sanity, until it seems there is none left.

I can imagine that, theoretically speaking, the Temple is actually rebuilt and they’re still protesting the opening of the parking lot. Is it really that far fetched?

Interestingly Dr. Hadas Hanani, a researcher of the haredi society, believes the real reason for the protest’s timing is economic.

“I think that the reason for holding protests at this time is the donations they have to raise ahead of the High Holidays,” she told Ynet. “This is the period when they look for donations abroad, preparing booklets and leaflets with explanations on why it is important not to leave families hungry during the holidays.”

She continued, “They show that they are bravely protecting Shabbat, presenting secular newspaper reports and pictures. It really serves them, it gives them ‘meat’ when they come to donors and tell them, ‘We are facing the seculars, the municipality, the police, and everyone.”

And when will they end according to her? Likely at the end of the holidays. “It will probably calm down slowly. They’ll find a patent in the form of an agreement with the municipality, or have the rabbis say that the demonstrations desecrate Shabbat.”

We shall see.

Haredim Clash with Police in Jerusalem

In what appears to be the worst outburst of ultra-orthodox Jewish violence in Jerusalem in nearly two years, thousands of the city’s Haredim community took to the streets on Saturday to clash with police over the opening of a parking lot by the city municipality to give visitors a place to park their cars while visiting the city on the Sabbath. Shouting “Shabbos, Shabbos”, and with many throwing rocks and other missiles at a large police contingent, the protestors created a mayhem that resulted in six policemen being lightly injured along with dozens of protestors, some of whom fought violently on a day when observant Jews are supposed to be at prayer and rest.

The police were so fearful that the mob would storm the city municipality building (where the parking lot is located) that they had to resort to using water cannon to disperse the rioters, as well as put out several fires to garbage dumpsters after the end of Shabbat. The opening of the parking lot on Shabbat was legally authorized after the city agreed to have it run by a non Jew. The Haredi community had other ideas, however, and the rioting not only involved the area of the parking lot but the ultra-orthodox Meah Shearim neighborhood as well, where most of the dumpster fires were later set.

Seven rioters were arrested on charges of committing a public disturbance (i.e. a riot) and one policeman, who was hit in the head by a rock, had to be hospitalized. The mayhem was the first big public disturbance in the administration of newly elected secular Mayor Nir Barkat, whose office denounced the disturbances on Sunday, and declared that the lot will remain open on the Sabbath. The city officials had been trying to find a solution to the parking problems in the city on the weekends, when thousands of tourists and other visitors come to Jerusalem, especially the Old City. It was agreed not to charge money for the parking, but this apparently didn’t matter to the Haredim, who still consider the lot to be a desecration of the Sabbath, and who had posted ads in religious newspapers beforehand saying to “be prepared for a battle for Jerusalem.”

A small group of secular people held an opposite protest with signs saying “this is not Teheran – the Haredim have no shame!”

The last big Heredim sponsored riot in the Capital occurred when the country’s Gay Rights groups tried to stage a march in the city on International Gay Pride Day.

Yosef “Tommy” Lapid dies at 77

Human Narration on

Tommy Lapid - Torch BearerFormer Minister of Justice, Yosef “Tommy” Lapid died this morning from cancer in Tel-Aviv. Lapid was a life-long journalist and publicist. He was a central figure in Israeli media, as is his son, Yair Lapid. In 1999, Tommy Lapid became chairman of Shinui, a political party which acted under the banner of secularism and the rights of the middle class.

Lapid was born in Serbia, and had survived the holocaust. Among his many positions, he served as the chairman of Yad Vashem, the holocaust memorial center. The word Lapid means “Torch” in Hebrew.

As a child, I became familiar with the name Lapid via the travel guides Tommy wrote in his travels around Europe. I remember his books being arranged on my parents’ cupboard. Later, I came to know him as the “loud man” on “Popolitica” — the weekly television panel, hosted by journalist Dan Margalit. Every week, Dan and the panel interviewed political guests and discussed current events, while accompanied by pop performances between the different items.

Later in his life, Lapid became the torchbearer of the secular vendetta. He led Shinui in 2003 when it gained its largest electorate ever, promising to fight religious coercion and to diminish the massive financial support that large parts of the orthodox community receive regularly from the government. As a result, he was accused of being overly divisive.

Whether you endorse Lapid’s doings or not, one thing is certain — his legacy is not one to be overlooked.

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