Thursday, July 17, 2008

They Are Just No Damn Good!

There are some religious Jews who look at the State of Israel and its founders as the epitome of evil – often using words like ‘Nazi-like’ to describe their actions. Of late some of the more right wing Religious Zionists have been using some of the same rhetoric as Charedi Jews. Mostly in instances where settlers in trailer homes in remote areas of the West Bank were evicted.

But it is the Charedi position that is the most troubling. There is currently such a dispute going on Areivim. It is a result of the discussion about the way violent protests stopped an autopsy not long ago. And I'm tired of it already. The more Charedi one is, the worse the rhetoric is. Violent protest - they say - is the only thing the Nazi-like government understands. They see every government act in the worst possible light. Any time a religious issue comes up, the government is accused of doing it because they are anti religious.

To prove their point they will often point to a time during the founding years of the State when Sephardi Jews – specifically from Yemen - were brought in from exile, children severed from parents, and placed in atheistic Kibbutzim.

Those children were then raised to be entirely secular and anti religious. Assuming that is true (which I am not entirely convinced of) who says that today’s government is anything like that of those founding fathers? Nonetheless it’s as if the same motives exist now. So when a religious issues like autopsies arises in Israel – the most strident among them see red! They see Peyos being cut off by godless Nazi-like Jews! And most other Charedim while not quite as strident, sympathize with this view if not quite to the same extent.

Those who have this attitude are completely blinded by their prejudices. They have been indoctrinated to believe that the Israeli government has a deep hatred for religious Jews. And they return that hatred in kind. And that blindness leads to another. It disallows them from seeing the obvious good that their government does in any way and certainly not for them. In so many ways. Those that have called the Israeli government actions Nazi like forget what Nazism is.

How is the State of Israel not like the Nazis? Do they have concentration camps? Are Jews being shot in groups into a mass grave? Are Jews being sent to gas chambers and their bodies cremated? Are medical experiments being performed on them by the state of Israel? Last time I checked, none of this was happening.

What has the government done for Jews? Let’s take a look. They have opened their doors to them all over the world. Never again will doors be closed to persecuted Jews. As long as there is a State of Israel, there will be an automatic haven for Jews.

And what a haven it is. A modern state that is far ahead of its neighbors technologically even though it is far it has far less money than them to do it with. A State where the standard of living is almost as high as the most advanced countries in the world. It is a State that has contributed much to the world of science, medicine and literature. It is country where citizens believe so strongly in what they are doing that they are willing to risk their lives and die for their country. Ask the parents of Eldad Regev, Ehud Goldwasser.

They risked and ultimately sacrificed their lives – as did so many others in so many wars – so that Bachurim in Bnei Brak’s Ponevezh Beis HaMedrash can continue learning without giving it a second thought.

This is a government that has not only given its blood for its people, it has given its money too. Much of it goes to the very people who so vociferously oppose to it – condemning it in the worst possible terms (Nazi-like!) at every opportunity. It’s as though they were still kidnapping children from Yemen, cutting off their Peyos, and sending to be educated in atheistic Kibbutizim.

But all this seems to pass right by them as though it didn’t exist or didn’t matter. An autopsy is performed by the ‘anti religious government’. Graves are dug up when they are discovered while building a road, because they are an ‘anti religious government’. Police use force to arrest protesting Charedi Jews who are setting fires in Jerusalem because they are an ‘anti religious government’.

Subsidies are cut to Yeshivos because they are an ‘anti religious government’. It truly is a black and white world to them. Charedim are all good and vilified by the anti religious media. The government is all bad and nothing they do is for the benefit the Torah world it is all for their own. All monies that Yeshivos etc. receive must be extorted from them.

Why can’t the Charedi world in Israel see the truth? Yes, there are some anti religious segments of the government who do have it in for religious Jews. But in most cases, they are not. In most cases, it is a mixed bag. There is both good and bad. Each event that happens that upsets the Charedi world should be looked at independently and not assumed to be automatically anti religious. That just increases the hatred - from both sides.

Sometimes the reasons have nothing to do with being anti religious. All this anti-Semitism against the government on the part of some of the more strident Charedim ought to stop. They ought to step back and analyze the situation for what it is and not always assume the worst.

Most importantly, it is time that the good that is the state of Israel be recognized - and that benefits that are received in the form of a strong defense force and financial aid be appreciated - in a public way. No matter how much of a shortfall they still have. If they would just open their eyes, they could easily see it.

Hakaras HaTov is long overdue. Expressing it in public ways would go a long way towards bringing Jews together instead of increasing the divide – secular, Religious Zionist, and Charedi. Wouldn’t that be nice? Nazi-like indeed!