This is a war not just for our souls but also for the land itself.
Today there was a riot in the town of Beit Shemesh when a man and a woman were arrested for attempting to force another to woman sit at the back of a bus. If you’ve ever taken a plane to Israel you may well have had to swap seats due to an issue with ultra orthodox refusing to sit next to a woman, if you’ve taken a bus in Israel you may have seen the same thing. In Israel this has increasingly become an issue. Women don’t like being forced to sit at the back of a bus regardless of whether someone’s misogyny is religiously inspired or not.
But what is really excellent is that in this case the police took action to prevent this from happening by force. That action had clear consequences.
And this brings us to the second part of the story, the riot.
Beit Shemesh is no stranger to these kinds of riots. They are the result of the imposition of the laws of the land in areas which Ultra Orthodox attempt to impose their own laws. Where this has happened parts of Israel have essentially become de facto ultra orthodox Jewish run places with a budget provided by the government. There is a dress code and a long list of rules on behaviour for people who are so much as walking through such neighbourhoods the most famous of which being Meah Sharrim in Jerusalem.
For decades we in our secular society have looked the other way. We allowed the Ultra Orthodox their quirks, we didn’t call them up for military service, we subsidized a lifetime of religious study and generally allowed them their own autonomy. Now, with the burden on the state increasing with the growing ultra orthodox populace we are seeing the state take action to curb the excesses of an ideology which is utterly insular, racist, homophobic, sexist, that bears little or no loyalty to the Jewish state and that wants nothing more than to impose an ideology on the rest of the populace that the majority rejects.
This is why we are likely to see more riots in the future, more attacks on serving soldiers in the IDF and even vandalism of symbols of secular society. Hopefully the state will be able to impose its authority to the extent that Israelis will be able to go about their lives free from the risk of having an extremist interpretation of Judaism thrust upon them and attacks in the name of our religion.
What I find really difficult to understand is why so many of you otherwise intelligent, hard working humble people out there rush to defend the things that Ultra Orthodox nutters do that would utterly horrify you if the people doing them weren’t Jewish!