Friday, February 10, 2017

Whose Fault is it, Anyway?

Note the black eye! (YWN)
18th century Irish statesman and political theorist, Sir Edmund Burke, once famously observed that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing.  At no time in history was that more true than during the Holocaust. 

But this is true at all times and for all people. And once again evil has triumphed in part for that reason in the Charedi town of Elad in the State of Israel. A 10 year old ‘Chardalit’ (Charedi/ Dati Leumi)  girl was assaulted by a  couple of young Charedi girls as she was waiting for a bus. Why did they assault her? Because she was carrying a smart-phone.  From YWN: 
She was returning from a friend’s home when she was confronted by the attackers, who said “Throw the tamei phone on the ground. We will step on it and break it for you”. They of course explained to her that the phone was not a certified kosher phone and therefore, she was not permitted to keep it. 
When she refused, she was attacked, knocked to the ground as they began pulling her hair. This continued until the bus she was waiting for arrived at the stop. She boarded the bus, bleeding and crying. They continued taunting her on the bus and when she turned to others to assist, they remained silent. Finally, the girl approached the driver, who threw them off of the bus two stops later. 
One might want to write this off and say that these are just children. Don’t judge the entire Charedi community by what a couple of immature kids might do.  Their parents would obviously never do or condone anything like that.

Well, I do not judge the entire community that way. I happen to agree that most Charedi parents would not do or condone that behavior. The problem is that there is a reason those young attackers did what they did. It’s because they have been indoctrinated to an extremely negative view of smart-phones. They see them as so evil - that it warrants this kind of response. And they have plenty of adult role models for exactly that kind of behavior. 

One does not have to search too far to find it. It was adults from an ultra-Charedi Bet Shemesh suburb that tormented a 7 year old  religious Zionist girl, yelling and screaming at her... calling her a whore because she was not dressed according to their particularly strict standard of modesty for children. 

Of course that wasn’t the real issue. It was really a turf war over a school built on the border between a ultra Charedi section and a Dati Leumi one. I guess they felt it was a legitimate tactic to torment young girls not dressed accoring to their strict standards to accomplish their ends.

I recall interviews that were taken from other ultra-Charedi residents there. They either defended it or excused it by saying they wouldn't do it but understood why the protesters did and agreed with their reasons. And no one from that community stood up to defend that young girl during those protests. They just stood idly by and let it happen... probably with a sense of justification about their ends.

So why shouldn’t these young girls express the same zealotry? After all they were defending their cause. They might have even thought they were saving the soul of that young smartphone owner!

The same kind of thinking may have been on the minds of all those onlookers who according to the YWN article saw the beating this young girl was taking and did nothing!

Whose fault is this mess? It is the fault of the kind of extremism that is so characteristic of the ultra-Charedi world in Israel. This is unlike the nuanced approach that has been adopted by the Charedi world in America. Most American Charedi rabbinic leaders  have finally realized that there may actually be a useful purpose to smart-phones. They no longer oppose them in their entirety. I’m not even sure they ever did  officially ban it. Despite that big Internet Asifa (gathering) at Citifield a few years ago that made it sound like they did. Any sort of ban they might have once considered has been replaced by urging the use of filters.

But not Israel. They are still pretty much in the banning mode. Much of the ultra-Charedi world in Israel only allows their members to carry Kosher-phones.  These phones have no internet connection and can basically only be used to make phone calls. If I understand correctly, most Charedi schools in Israel will not allow children to attend if a parent uses a smartphone.When a community takes such extreme measures to deal with a problem, which I concede is legitimate in more ways than one, then it should not be a surprise when children take extreme measures to enforce them.

But even if extremism is the mentality that guides this world, I have to wonder why the good people on the bus just sat there watching those 2 young girls beating up on that young smart-phone owner. Even if they approved of their goals they should not have approved of the means these young zealots were taking. Did they?