Shifting Paradigms in the Middle East and Ramat Bet Shemesh

The seismic shock wave of political revolution which started with a Tunisian immolating himself, has spread through North Africa to the Middle East, and is dominoing around our region faster than the CNN updates can keep track of.

Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, Algeria...who knows where next?

It’s clearly not us, here in Ramat Bet Shemesh

Although these events are alarmingly close to us geographically, they seem worlds away politically. These regimes are tyrannical – and our Israeli democracy is thriving. We overthrow our governments via the ballot box, or they implode in coalition debacles, far too frequently for discontent to build up.

It has been fascinating watching the evaporation of paradigms in the events around our region.

For example, the European Community recently put out a statement that one should not allow the events in Cairo et al “to distract us from reaching a resolution of the Palestinian conflict”. This is using the Old Paradigm that the big problem in the Middle East, threatening regional stability, is the Palestinian/Israeli issue – even though the real revolution happening has nothing to do with that. The crowds are anti-tyranny, not Pro-Palestinian. Indeed it now abundantly clear that the Israel/Palestinian issue has itself been the “distraction” from the true source of instability, festering for decades, which is pandemic corruption and despotism.

Another example of the paradigm shift, was the Iranian Government’s calls to support the demonstrators in Cairo. Using the Iranian Islamism vs The West paradigm, overthrowing Western backed leaders looked like a victory for Iran…. Only, within days, Ahmadinijad found himself wrong-footed, when his own population took to the streets in Tehran. At that point, the Iranian despots went back to arresting opposition leaders, and suppressing the Moslem masses. So much for encouraging the rights to dissent and protest for change.

It is the paradigm shift, still in process, which has the possibility of impacting us, even in our corner of the Middle East, Ramat Bet Shemesh.

It’s the “Yes We Can” – which can filter down to aspects of our lives which we’ve always accepted because, well… just because.

Because things have always been this way; because even trying to change the status quo will certainly result in bad consequences for ourselves and our families; because apparently G-d says so; because we don’t merit any better….

Demanding these basic qualities from our religious leadership and for our population of nearly a million frum Jews, would indeed be nothing short of revolutionary:

Democratic Values & Rights. 


Accountability of Leadership. 


Transparency of the Mechanics of Power.

It sounds absurd, I know, for orthodox Judaism to shake off the way things have always been done. To insist and to achieve these basic freedoms within our sub-culture of orthodoxy, while preserving the halachik process.

To demand of our religious leadership: Democratic Values & Rights. Transparency. Accountability.

Absurd.

As absurd as all the revolutionary events we have witnessed in the past weeks.

As absurd as a black man becoming president of the USA.

As absurd as “Yes We Can”.

Comments

  1. "It sounds absurd, I know, for orthodox Judaism to shake off the way things have always been done. To insist and to achieve these basic freedoms within our sub-culture of orthodoxy, while preserving the halachik process."

    David, I must disagree. The hegemony in Klal Yisroel today is not the way things have always been done. Through out most of our history we were encouraged to think for ourselves using Torah as a guide.

    It is a group of egomaniac, power hungry askanim who have caused things to be the way that they are.

    They on't tolerate halachik Jews who look or think differently than them.

    They gain power by dictating how every aspect of life should be followed inventing new chumros to cement that control.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The "gedolim" are the authority which rules the chareidi world.

    They are saintly, and ancient. There is no retirement scheme - as it's a lifelong unelected position. Some are clearly senile.

    The gedolim are surrounded by askanim, who are unknown and not accountable to anyone, who have taken real political, financial and hashkafik control.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't get it, David.

    Are you suggesting there's a parallel between the factors which led to the uprisings around us, and the factors which exist in the chareidi community?

    Unemployment, enforced poverty, censorship on individual expression, deprived of education, no right to dissent, rife corruption?

    Surely the chareidi population enjoys these rights:

    Freedom of expression - an open press and dissenting views are encouraged.

    Economic freedom and freedom to pursue employment oportunities.

    Educational freedom, to study discplines required for the work force and to contribute to society.

    An enlightened and deomocratic leadership who represent the needs of the population.

    Or have I not understood you correctly?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Revolt is not likely to happen amongst Israeli haredim.

    The Israeli haredi masses have been so suppressed, so systematically, for so long, that they are probably incapable of the paradigm-shift you're suggesting.

    The most which is achievable is democratic-style reforms - which could possibly be introduced due to a FEAR of revolt.

    If the Israeli haredi masses are too-far-gone, perhaps some of the leadership will notice the international events, understand the connection to their own 'regime', and take preventative measures?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous: "perhaps some of the leadership will notice the international events, understand the connection to their own 'regime', and take preventative measures?"

    You're kidding, right?

    Democratic-style changes will never come from the top-down.

    ReplyDelete

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