Friday, December 30, 2011

A New and Growing Threat to Israel

Arabs – Ultra Orthodox Jews May Be Israel’s Greatest Threat

[Editor’s Note:  The Dismal Political Economist is Jewish.  However, unlike Conservative Jews he believes that criticism of Israel is correct and proper when that criticism is called for.  Like most American Jews he does not blindly support the policies of the state of Israel when he thinks they are wrong, and like most American Jews he does not he support politicians of any party who do so.]

It is well known that radical Palestinians would like to destroy the state of Israel and to kill every Jewish person who inhabits that country.  The men and women who espouse that view are enemies of Israel, and it is right and proper that the U. S. and every other nation aid and support Israel in its fight for survival.  But Israel itself must reject internal policies which operate against rather than in favor of its survival.

One of the policies is the special place and special role given to ultra Orthodox Jews.  These men and women live in Israel and are free to practice their version of Judaism.  In fact the laws of Israel give them special protection, as it should.  Ultra Orthodox Jews should have the basic right that every human should have, the right to practice their religion in dignity and freedom.

But like most fundamentalist of every religion, Orthodox Jews seek not only seek to practice their religion as they see fit, they also seek to impose their version of religion on others.   One irony here is that their freedom to worship and live as they please is protected by the men and women in the Israeli Defense Forces, who live and operate in a way that violates the principles of these radicals.  Another irony is that their fundamentalism and desire to impose it on others put them far more in common with the radical Arab Islamists than with other Jews.

The need of Orthodox Jews to impose their will on others has been brought to the center in one of the uglier incidents in Israeli history.

In a scene that could have been lifted from Montgomery, Alabama in the 1950s, a public bus was halted in Israel on Friday when an ultra-Orthodox man boarded and demanded that Tanya Rosenblit, commuting to Jerusalem for work, get up and move to the rear.

She refused, at which point the offending man told the bus driver that “it was his right to have her sit in the back and that he had paid to be able to do so.” He then pried open the doors, refusing to allow the bus to continue, at which point the driver called police.

The incident has risen to a “cause” in Israel, and hopefully will invigorate the drive for equal rights under the law, a goal that all Americans can identify with.

Now this incident is far more offensive to Americans than others, given the history of racial bigotry in the United States and the role that Rosa Parks and other played in ending it, in part by refusing the sit in the back of the bus.  And while this incident is being played up in Israel, as well it should, it is far less a threat than the action by ultra radical settlers who have attacked IDF members of their illegal occupation of Arab lands.

A logical solution would be for the ultra Orthodox to create and settle a part of Israel by themselves, where they could practice their religion their way without imposing their beliefs on anyone else.  But they cannot do this, for the members of the Orthodox sect are unwilling to defend themselves from outside attack; they depend upon those whom they condemn to do that for them.  In fact, were the entire state of Israel to become the nirvana (ok, not a Jewish word but you get the picture) that the Orthodox would have, its life would be measured in hours.  The Orthodox may think that their Deity would protect them, but the Deity does not work in mysterious ways.  The Deity that has preserved Judaism and Israel works through the IDF.


  1. TDPE, is there a major religion (and it need not be monotheistic) on this planet that does not have fundamentalist wack jobs? It is rather disturbing to me that in the 21st century, at least with respect to some parts of religion, we are going back in time instead of marching forward.

  2. Branding all Orthodox Jews as fundimentalists with more in common with the Palastinian radicals is nuts. There are some, perhaps many Hasidic jews that would like to impose their will on the masses, but the vast majority of orthodox jews are happy to live and let live. Israel has one of the best records in the worls with protection of women's rights, equality for LGBT, etc, etc.

  3. The Comment "Branding all Orthodox Jews as fundimentalists with more in common with the Palastinian radicals is nuts." is correct.

    The subject of the post was not all Orthodox Jews but that small group of "ultra" Orthodox Jews within the Jewish Orthodox community. These are people that have phusically attacked the IDF and a group that even the Prime Minister has criticized and opposed.