For years, my father has had a saying: “The worst enemy of the Jews is the Jews.” He says this in reference to the efforts of some Jews to undermine the State of Israel – in other words, anti-Zionist Jews. Now of course, anti-Zionist Jews can be found all over the world. For those of us who live outside of Israel, the ones we usually hear about are the kind associated with left-wing movements that decry the existence of the State of Israel as an embodiment of Jewish fascism that wrongly persecutes non-Jews, specifically those who identify as Palestinians, and functions as a state similar to apartheid South Africa. But there is another group of anti-Zionist Jews that gets a lot more press time in Israel than it does anywhere else: Haredi extremists.
The Haredim, or ultra-Orthodox Jews, as they are often called in English, are the community that many other Israelis love to hate. Why? Because most of them don’t work and therefore don’t contribute to the Israeli economy. In fact, they’re a drain on the Israeli economy because they get handouts from the government that enable them to do nothing but study the Torah all day. Moreover, since the Haredim have a penchant for bearing many children, it’s getting more and more expensive to support them as their numbers grow larger and larger. And quite frankly, other Israelis who do work and contribute to society are getting sick and tired of their hard-earned tax dollars going to support these welfare bums. Yet, the Haredim continue to insist that Israeli taxpayers subsidize their medieval way of life and even seek to impose that way of life on the rest of Israeli society.
Every Israeli knows about the weekly Shabbat routine in which crowds of Haredim gather to swear, spit on, and throw stones at other Israelis who dare to drive cars near or in Haredi-dominated neighbourhoods. “Shabbos! Shabbos!” they keep chanting. Actually, the fact that they say “Shabbos” instead of the Hebrew word Shabbat is just one minor example of their subversive attitude towards the state, because many of them prefer to speak Yiddish rather than modern Hebrew, which they consider to be an abomination, just like the State of Israel. These are the same kind of people who burn Israeli flags on Independence Day. They’re the same people who verbally and even physically assault women for dressing “immodestly”.
I can still remember the story of that poor little girl in Bet Shemesh who was spit on and pelted with insults as she walked home from school. By the way, this girl belonged to a modern Orthodox Jewish family. But of course, even those Jews who most people would call religious are not religious enough for some fanatical Haredim who might as well be a Jewish version of the Taliban, Al-Qaeda or ISIL. These extremists have no respect for individual rights, women’s rights, or rights of any kind. And if they had their way, not only would there be no freedom, democracy or human rights in Israel; there wouldn’t be an Israel. Period.