Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Three State Solution

I think it’s time for the extremists in Jerusalem to set up their own country. Perhaps there should be a three state solution. One for Jews, one for Palestinians, and one for the extremist Charedim who insist on forcing their own standards on the entire community.

This time it is about a campaign photo of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. She heads the Kadima party and if her party is elected as the majority she will be the next prime minister. Hence the campaign posters with her image on it. But advertisers working in her campaign have eliminated her image from Kadima campaign posters in Jerusalem.

This is not the only time this has happened. Posters of other women running in the municipal elections earlier this month had their photos expunged as well. Not only that, but pictures of children without Kipot were apparently deemed inappropriate too.

One may ask, ‘What’s the big deal?’ ‘Is this - in and of itself so terrible?’ ‘Can’t we concede this one thing in the interests of harmony and ‘getting along?’

Ordinarily I would say yes. But it is a symptom of a much greater problem.

These people have a right to be as extreme as they want as long as they do not impose their extremes on everyone else. But that is exactly what they want. If I were a resident of Jerusalem I would be livid – even if I were Charedi, not to mention Dati or secular. It is just another step in the direction of a Taliban-like society.

No one is saying that we have to turn Jerusalem into a bastion of secularism. But just as I wouldn’t want one extreme, neither would I want the other. No one has the right to insist that their way is the only Kosher way… and that the concern of others be damned! But this is precisely what these people want. And they are winning. But it’s wrong.

Most of the extremists are probably Meah Shearim residents. They are of the same type that have left Meah Shearim and taken over cities like Ramat Bet Shemesh B. And they are doing the same thing there.

Just to be clear I want to emphasize that the problem isn’t about insisting on the elimination of a totally Tznius image of a woman running for office. One could perhaps overlook that one thing. It is about the over-all attitude that goes along with it. This is the attitude that ends up producing violence on the part of the Kannoistic gangs in that community.

They have got the entire country running scared. So instead of putting up those photos, advertisers have decided to avoid any violence and vandalism. To Mrs. Livini’s credit, she has ordered her image restored on those posters. She is not intimidated.

But perhaps she should be. We know what the thugs are capable of when a standard of theirs is violated. Just look at their reaction to a older woman who dared to sit in the men’s section of a bus in Ramat Bet Shemesh a while back . She was physically attacked! And just look at what happened to a Charedi resident there - a hero who tried to do something about the violence in his town . Those Meah Shearim thugs put him in the hospital!

Yes, the violence is at the hand of a few. But it is this mindset that insists on imposing their standards on everyone else that results in the few taking matters into their own very violent hands.

That most of those people wouldn’t themselves be violent – that most of them even condemn it - is beside the point. All of them have these extreme standards. And that is all the excuse needed by those thugs to carry out their intimidation and violent behevaior!

There seems to be no solution. Compromise is not a word in their vocabulary. It’s time to partition them off, give them their own state and be done with them!