What, Oh What, To Riot About Today?!
As if the Flotilla, the Iranian threat and the
Dubai assassination are not enough to occupy the political decision makers in the State of … Israel
There are now also three hot-and-steamy battles, involving
’s Ultra-Orthodox sector, which together could just bring the government to its knees. And even distract the rest of us from the World Cup. Israel
The bones in
Jaffa; the in Emmanuel; and the National Insurance Supplementary Benefits. Slonim School
The previous struggle, by ultra-orthodox extremists, was over some ancient bones found at the building site for an emergency war-proof facility at the
Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. That struggle was won about a month ago by the Government. The ancient (and probably non-Jewish) bones were deftly moved to a new site, and the building work on the hospital commenced.
In the language of the World Cup:
- 1; Israel
Extremists – Nil.
Having failed to stop the Barzilai hospital expansion in Ashkelon, the same rioters and their organizational backers (Eida Chareidis), have now moved swiftly on to
, where archaeologists had found more bones on a site being prepared for construction… Jaffa
Meanwhile, there is a messy struggle over a school in Emmanuel (an ultra-orthodox town in the Shomron/Samaria), which is viewed by the State authorities as an issue over equal rights for Sephardim (Jews of North African origin), but is viewed by the Slonim Hasidim as their freedom to have their own ‘club’ school (financed by the Government). The court have gotten stroppy with the Slonim Hasidim and have ordered the parents to prison for contempt of court…
And finally, after ten years of due consideration, the Supreme Court issued a ruling this week, that 10,000 Kollel (orthodox higher education) students, are not entitled to Supplementary/Welfare Benefit (Avtachat Hachnasah) from the National Insurance Institute…
My 2 Cents on each issue…
The bones, frankly, leave me cold. There is a Ministry of Religion apparatus for identifying and, if necessary, removing Jewish bones, which has been dealing with these issues for many years; the extremists who are opposed to moving the bones in Jaffa seem to be doing so because they don’t trust the State (period).
Furthermore, the subtlety of the important differences between the (flopped) Barzilai campaign (which placed pikuach nefesh/saving lives vs. kevod lemeisim/respect for the dead) and the campaign in
(kevod lemeisim/respect for the dead vs. parnassah/commercial building), has been totally lost in the noise of battle. Jaffa
The Slonim School case, was no more compelling – State funded schooling and buildings must not be used as private ‘clubs’ (in this case the Slonim Hasidim) and used to exclude specific ethnic groups (Sephardim). The USA went through this cleaning-up process against 'segregation' in the 1950’s and 1960’s, creating integrated black + white schools, buses, etc. In all societies remnants of segregation along racial/ethnic lines remain, including in the Israeli High Court system, which is disproportionately dominated by Ashkenazi Judges. And in all societies it must be unacceptable.
However, in this case, the Government/Courts have made a major miscalculation by imprisoning the Slonim parents. By imprisoning the Hasidim, this looks vindictive and cruel, and the Courts have now unwittingly created a powerful cause célèbre for the demonstrators.
Fine them, or close down the school – I'd understand. But imprisoning them has just created martyrs (mesiras nefesh) for this non-cause.
The third issue, the Supreme Court’s decision that Kollel students are not entitled to National Insurance Supplementary Benefit….
I know full well that the overwhelming majority of these recipient families are not using this money (around 1000 NIS/month) to buy Mercedes cars. The Kollel students are generally very poor, and they need this money to feed their (often large) families, which is indeed the purpose of the Supplementary Benefit.
Knowing the way the political system works, I am confident that, since paying this population via National Insurance is not legal, either the law will be changed, or they will receive the same money through other government channels, which will be legal.
Creating the political will to find such a work-around solution, may well require applying pressure, such as through orderly & authorized public demonstrations. I would have no problem supporting such political demonstrations.
Actually, what is happening is that these three different issues are being bundled together as one, as if the State has suddenly turned all guns on the ultra-orthodox population.
Indeed UTJ MK Moshe Gafni has slammed Israel’s political leadership for remaining silent in face of the “month and a half of attacks on the haredim,” apparently refering to events prior to the court ruling against the Emmanuel parents.
The extremists, having lost the Battle of Barzilei Hospital, are seemingly itching to get even – and are looking to win all three diverse issues, in one huge campaign.
By enlisting hundreds, nay 100,000 - impassioned demonstrators (peaceful) and rioters (violent), and with the ever-powerful claim that G-d Himself is on their side, the extremists are planning on this resounding turn-around shock World Cup Final result:
: 1 Israel