Monday, April 6, 2009

They Do Represent You

A recent article (Jerusalem Post March 22-April 2, 2009) by Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz “They Do not Represent Us” was disappointing to say the least. His position against the hasssidic thugs sponsored by the mishmar tzniut was the usual fare – reheated cholent served up on yom chol. It was tasteless and lacked merit. We all know that Buzaglo and company are shabab with no values and little future. The real issue is how does this happen in the first place?

Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz avoided the issue by taking the safe way and least offensive approach – namely that these thugs are an aberration and don’t represent the mainstream hareidi community. It is here that I beg to differ. The hareidi community in vast numbers shares the sentiments of the mishmar tzniut and their tactics. They have demonstrated this time and again. To disavow them is disengenius and doesn’t really get to the heart of the matter.

At the core of the hareidi community is a profound distrust for and dismissive attitude towards anyone or any group that doesn’t buy into their value system and way of life. Any student of hareidi history of Eastern Europe at the end of the nineteenth century and during the inter war years know that there were countless instances of violence within the hareidi community. There was even a case of premeditated murder by a Belzer Hassid during the interwar years perpetrated as a result of their on going fight against the encroachment of the Emancipation and Zionism. Tolerance was and is something sorely lacking within the educational system (formal and informal) of their yeshiva world and family unit. There are documented cases of “mesira”, where those of one hassidic court were “moser” leadership of other hassidic courts in order to further their own agenda.

It isn’t only tolerance, but respect for others with differing opinions. Precisely because of their zealotry they haven’t the capacity to respect differing views because they consider that a direct threat to their way of life. In America their zealotry is tempered because of their extreme minority status and the rule of civil law. In Israel however there is a level of tolerance for their zealotry resulting in their talibanesque behavior as reflected in the case of Buzaglo.

Their history of violence isn’t something new and novel. It has been going on for hundreds of years and has become part of their ethos. If they don’t get what they want they resort to violence. So it isn’t enough to condemn their violence as Rabbi Horowitz suggests but to seriously critique the educational systems used in their yeshivot. Their disdain for anyone not sharing their values is legendary. Until that changes and until they develop a wholesome respect and tolerance for competing view points their petty violence will continue. And yes – one ought to be ashamed!