Regev Responds

Who knew that Israel's political leadership was so evil?

Depicting Israel's leadership as antisemitic villains

The Haredi politicians and media are still focused on posturing as innocent victims that are picked upon by antisemitic Jewish politicians like Avigdor Liberman, crooks like PM Naftali Bennett, and heretics bent on destroying Judaism like the Reform Movement, which masterminds many recent moves aimed at bullying “Torah-true” Jews.

Yated Ne'eman magazine coverYated Ne'eman magazine cover

In the past, we posted examples of frontpage headlines in the ultra-Orthodox media, which tell this story in words and graphic art. This week, the story is no different, as can be seen by the caricature that appears on the cover page of Yated Ne’eman’s weekly magazine. Anyone looking at understands that it goes beyond criticism of government policies.

As a matter of fact, one may view it as parallel to the horrific caricatures that appeared in the pages of the antisemitic Der Stürmer, although with a role reversal. The Haredi leadership and media often describe those who criticize them as driven by antisemitic zeal. On this particular cover page, they show the New Hope party’s Minister of Communications (who is deeply anchored in Jewish Orthodox tradition). He is portrayed as a demonic, violent, hate-driven individual who is not only victimizing the feeble-looking pious father and son, but even cuts away every shred of protection they have (their umbrella) from the stormy elements.

The confrontation between the ultra-Orthodox political parties and Minister Hendel, which they describe so sharply, deals with the issue of "kosher phones". [You can find a detailed description of the issue here]. Basically, it’s about the ultra-Orthodox leadership's control over Israel’s ultra-Orthodox sector, which is sometimes quite extreme, like, for instance, in relation to the "kosher" telephones. Not only do they block access to the Internet and sex sites and prevent competition in the market of cellphone equipment, but they also blocked phone lines for various welfare services, including centers for victims of sexual abuse and even HMO call centers.

This conflict illustrates the gap between the frequent claims regarding the unwavering commitment of the ultra-Orthodox public to its rabbis and values (to the point of rejecting any desire to know the wider world through Internet access, the press, the general media, the sciences, and English, etc.), on the one hand… And on the other hand, the insistence to not allow ultra-Orthodox individuals free choice in selecting cell phones, which indicates that their leadership clearly does not trust them to act responsibly and in accordance with their faith. So, they insist on blocking their phones in a way that denies them any choice, even if blocking phonelines and services is arbitrary and sometimes even dangerous.

The issue of kosher telephones is just one of the struggles in which the ultra-Orthodox leadership is clashing with the government. There are five primary conflicts, labeled “Liberman's decrees”.

The issue of kosher telephones is just one of the struggles in which the ultra-Orthodox leadership is clashing with the government. There are five primary conflicts, labeled “Liberman's decrees”. As we explained, they are presented to the ultra-Orthodox public as expressions of antisemitism, hatred of Judaism, hatred of the ultra-Orthodox, and a desire to abolish Israel's Jewish identity. None of these leaders acknowledge the fact that not only Liberman but all senior economists in Israel warn of the danger to Israel's economic future, should ultra-Orthodox men continue to not receive an education that includes core curricular studies (necessary for the modern economy) and refuse to enter into the labor market. They also refuse to address Israel's security needs and insist that their immersion in the Talmud is the source of Israel's security from its enemies more than IDF soldiers. So, they refuse to enlist or even serve in alternative civilian service. The five “decrees” were again listed today in the cover of an ultra-Orthodox weekly as follows:

  1. "Denial of daycare subsidies for those who do not work"; [The position of the ultra-Orthodox sector is that its men should not leave their yeshivas to work; and denying them daycare subsidies would cause ultra-Orthodox women to leave work to take care of children. In other words, the unilateral decision of the ultra-Orthodox sector is that its men should spend their time in yeshivas and not go to work. This is in stark contrast to the span of Jewish history, since the days of the Torah and the Sages, as well as the reality that existed in the Golden Age of European yeshivas between the world wars. The State, they maintain, should be obliged to take care of their livelihoods; and must not use incentives and sanctions to induce ultra-Orthodox men to go to work. It should be emphasized that this position of the ultra-Orthodox leadership is not only rejected by Lieberman and others in the government, but also by the vast majority of Israel’s Jewish public as Hiddush polls consistently show.]
  2. Abolition of property tax rebates for families who do not work;
  3. "Drastically cut back on required yeshiva hours." [I.e., allowing yeshiva students to study for fewer hours without losing their status, in order to make time for them to take part-time work in parallel to their yeshiva studies.]
  4. “Offering economic incentives to ultra-Orthodox schools for incorporating core curricular studies”; [As stated, they see core curricular studies as a threat and spiritually harmful to the ultra-Orthodox public.]
  5. “Completing the legislation of the Enlistment Law and implementing it" [Anyone who follows this topic knows that despite the fierce opposition they portray publicly, most ultra-Orthodox leaders understand that the current law is the best they could hope for, as it only aims to create the impression of conscripting yeshiva students. In practice, it will not really enforce military enlistment upon most (if not all) yeshiva students].

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