Friday, May 25, 2018

The Eida HaCharedis and the Charedi Solider

The Eida HaCharedis view of Charedi soldiers in the IDF
Freedom of speech is a basic tenet of a democratic society. As such hate speech should in theory be permitted, as  repugnant as it may be.  That was the issue the ACLU fought for in 1977 on behalf of a group of neo-Nazis.  They were denied a permit by the village of Skokie, a heavily Jewish suburb of Chicago filled with Holocaust survivors. The matter was taken up by the Supreme Court and they came down on the side of Free Speech. (Survivors be damned! - Sometimes, it seems,  a democratic principle does not work in just ways.)

I was reminded of this by an event that happened recently in Jerusalem. From Arutz Sheva
Israel Police are investigating a street show organized by an anti-Zionist haredi organization earlier this month which denigrated IDF soldiers and encouraged members of the haredi community to harass religious servicemen.
On the Lag Baomer festival earlier this month, the Edah Haharedit organization – an umbrella group of anti-Zionist haredi movements – put on a show for children in the Meah Shearim neighborhood which included an actor dressed as a haredi soldier
During the show, the soldier, who told the audience he was there to protect them, was taunted, called a “hardak” (a Hebrew slang mixing the word haredi with the Hebrew word meaning germ), and later pelted with fruit.
The actors who participated in the show encouraged local children to confront religious soldiers, and denounced the “Zionist state”.
After Israeli television publicized the story, police launched an investigation into claims the performance constituted incitement against IDF soldiers, Kikar Hashabbat reported. 
Well, I guess this too qualifies as free speech. The police investigating it might have a point. Did this performance did constitute  yelling ‘Fire’ in a crowded theater (when there is no actual fire)?  Perhaps incitement against the IDF is equivalent to that. Not really sure.

But the plain truth is that these people didn’t need any provocation. They have been doing it all along and will continue doing it. They see it as their mission. That little performance only highlights it to the world. They probably realized it would get media attention.  So now it reverts to being a simple matter of free speech.

Which in a democracy ought to be permitted no matter how repugnant (ala the Supreme Court decision forcing Skokie to grant Nazis the right to march in Skokie.)

But that does not make this performance any less repugnant. What it does - is make clear that Eida HaCharedis  actually approves  of attacking Charedi soldiers. No longer can anyone say they don’t. And that it is just the renegade young hoodlums among them. 

The truth is that it was not just young hoodlums acting in extremely inappropriate ways on a principle the community believed in. No. They are not misguided at all. The Eida not only preach that hatred, but applaud those who acted on it. They do not reject them at all. They celebrate them.

In my view the Eida has done a great service in presenting this performance to the world. We now know the truth. They are the delinquents here.

No more apologetics. No more excuses saying it isn’t the Eida but the few hoodlums in their midst. It IS the Eida!

My message to them is, ‘Thank You!’ Thank you for telling us who you really are. Thank you for telling us how much you approve and even celebrate these repugnant acts!

And they set themselves up as the most religious Jews in the world? Really?! Not in my book. Not with unholy behavior like that. Free as they may be in a democracy to express it!