Monday, September 18, 2017

Outside of Orthodoxy

Scene in Jerusalem yesterday (Jerusalem Post)
I’ve tried to ignore stories like this. Not because they don’t upset me. They do. But because they are so ‘normal’ for that community – I should be used it by now. But when I read yet another story of violent protest on the part of extremist Charedim in Israel, I can’t help but recoil. They more than upset me. They enrage me. I get so angry that I sometimes want to go over there and cheer the police on!

I am referring to yet another demonstration by extremist Charedim. From the Jerusalem Post
(T)he grandson of the grand rabbi of one of these extremist groups, the hassidic Toldos Avraham Yitzhak sect, was detained two weeks ago by the military police for failing to report to the IDF enlistment office when called to do so, which led to Sunday’s riots. 
A law worked out in the Kensset between the religious parties and the government exempts all Yeshiva students from serving in the army. All the government requires them to do to get that exemption is to register with them. The majority of Charedi Yeshiva students do exactly that and get their exemption (or deferment).  But as is well known by now there is a faction led by Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach that refuses  to do even that. He has called for resistance to the point of even being jailed if necessary.

Toldos Avraham Yitzchak Chasdim are not followers of Rabbi Auerbach. But they are of like mind – rejecting the State of Israel as an evil empire. So when one of them gets arrested for non compliance  - they riot.  And when the person being arrested is of ‘royal blood’ all hell breaks loose. At least that’s what it seems like form the pictures on VIN
Now people in any democracy have a right to protest what they believe to be unfair laws. While I believe the law is more than fair (in fact I believe it to be unfair to most of the rest of Israelis that not only register but actually serve) I still support the right to protest something one sees as wrong. What I do not support is what happened here.

These are vile people!  Not only were they violent - they protested in ways that forced police to use extreme measures to control the crowd. Making it appear that the police were the ones using unnecessary force against them. Otherwise known as police brutality.  

I know that police brutality exists. And that is condemnable. And there may have been some of that in this case, I don’t know. But it seems to me that the way they protested  was designed to elicit a violent response from the police. This way they can blame the whole thing on them and the ‘evil empire’ that sent them there! The empire without which these very same people would be slaughtered by another evil empire. A real one. Like Iran. Who promised to do exactly that if they get ever get the chance.

But these people are oblivious to this reality. They only see one evil empire: Israel. Their goal is the same as Iran’s goal: to eradicate the state of Israel. What they do not realize is that the genocide Iran has promised includes them!

I am so sick of people like this. It isn’t only those that are directly involved in rioting. I believe that they are widely supported by the rest of their community - as well as their own rabbinic leader. Especially since royalty is involved!

Which to me - makes this community a lot worse than the one currently protesting in St Louis. A police officer that shot a black suspect he apprehended was found not guilty of murder. That generated a protest by members of the black community that felt an injustice had been done. A white policeman got off the hook for killing a black man.

Now I trust the system. If after due process, a jury found him not guilty, that means they found his actions justified. But I also understand where the black community is coming from. There has been a history of prejudice against black people in this country that has in the past no doubt skewed justice against black people. So they are understandably protesting.

The protests have been peaceful by day. But they have turned violent at night. It is believed that a group of rabblerousers infiltrate the peaceful protesters then and cause all kinds of havoc with damage to public and private property. It isn’t too hard to draw a parallel to Toldos Avraham Yitzchak Chasidim rioting in the streets of Jerusalem.

I believe the two groups deserve the same kind of condemnation. If it were up to me, I’d throw them all in jail and throw away the key! I have a lot more respect for the peaceful protesters in St Louis than I do with the rioters of Toldos Avraham Yitzchak. Who are probably supported by the rest of the community. Unlike the violent protesters in St. Louis that are probably not supported by theirs.

It is unfortunate that Jews who are otherwise so meticulous in their ritual observances; devotion to the word of God as their rabbis interpret it; and whose belief system is based on the same tenets as mine - are at the same time such unsavory people. Accept for their ritual observance and the way they dress, they are no different from the unsavory rabble that have infiltrated the peaceful protesters in St. Louis.

I have no tolerance for any of these people whether in St. Louis or Jerusalem.  But when Jews are involved, it gets personal.

I occasionally see puff pieces written in Charedi magazines about communities like Toldos Avraham Yitzchak – praising them for their meticulous ritual observance. Or the kindness they might show to fellow Jews. Or the strong devotion they have towards their Rabbinic leader. Or their devotion to their ideals – even though they might not agree with them.

As  I said, I have no issue with disagreement and respecting those with views different than my own. But when those views generate the kind of behavior so common in these communities, they need to be called out.  This is what is lacking among the more mianstream Charedi factions of Orthodoxy. 

They need to be condemned for it by the rest of the Charedi world. Charedi  publications ought to publish a feature story on them along with the kind of pictures published in VIN - explaining why they deserve such condemnation instead of simply saying their views are different than ours. And unless or until these extremists change their ways, they should be considered Chutz L’Machane – outside of Orthodoxy!