Yes, that’s you. And you. And you. And indeed me too. All of us. Although none of us will admit it. We all think we’re perfect and follow the law 100% of the time in every single area. We don’t say that aloud but we imply it as soon as we criticize others in what we believe is their “parasitic” attitude to the state of Israel. Especially when it comes to those EVIL HAREDIM.
It’s funny actually how none of us sees it really. I’m sure I’m exactly the same on some issue or another. I’m sure someone could find an area in which I’m not ethical (although ethics are exceedingly high on my priority list) but still, I’m quite sure I’m not perfect. No one is. But I know one thing for sure: I will NEVER racialize a group of people: be they fat, bald, ugly, left-wing, have blue hair and piercings, vegan, Arab or even the dreaded ULTRA-ORTHODOX. Because I was brought up educated (even if it was JFS!). And, during that education, I learned that demonizing one sect – ANY sect – in it entirety, is simple racism. And I won’t be a racist. Ever.
What’s really most troubling to me though about this particular type of racism, is that it’s self-hating. We too, are Jews. We may interpret the Torah law in a different way or may not adhere to it at all, but when Hitler came and slaughtered the Jewish people in World War II – correct me if I’m wrong – I don’t think he differentiated between those wearing skinny jeans or shtreimels. Again, please, correct me if I’m wrong.
Some of the sentiments I have read over the last few days vis-à-vis the haredi demonstration against a change in the law (which by the way, was a peaceful, legal demonstration because that’s what democratic countries permit), include: “parasite,” “all they’re doing is having babies and studying Torah,” “refusing to compromise” “rabbis and their parasitic followers,” “demographic threat,” and worse.
But if G-d forbid any other group was attacked in such a vicious, mean, cruel, hateful way, it would immediately be seen as abhorrent. Like when MK David Rotem had to apologize for calling Reform Judaism “not Jewish”.
The same standards don’t extend to the parasitic Haredim however. Indeed, as Johnathan Rosenblum pointed out in ‘The Jerusalem Post’ in 2003, “Shinui’s descriptions of haredim as barbaric primitives; idle fanatics who view work as demeaning; enemies of progress and enlightenment; parasites who suck the marrow from the country are hardly less likely to “arouse hatred and strife between various groups in the population” than Binyamin Kahane’s description of Umm el-Fahm as a “vipers’ nest,” for which he was convicted by the Supreme Court.” Not only was that allowed, by a ton of people cast their votes in SUPPORT of it.
It’s acceptable however, as the general consensus is that haredim are just dirty parasites and we – all the other perfect law-abiding Israeli citizens – would never sponge off the state like they do… or would we? People in glass houses…
Here’s my point. It’s irrelevant what we think about the law – I happen to agree that everyone should be serving their country in some way or another – but that’s not my argument. My argument is three-fold: first, educated people should not be demonizing an entire sect of individuals. C’mon we all know it’s bullshit and just a scapegoat. There are plenty of ultra-orthodox individuals who do contribute to society and simultaneously plenty of individuals from other sects that don’t. So stop with that for a start. Second – as my cousin Clifford Corney rightly pointed out when discussing this demonstration – we all are so happy to take pride in the fact that Israel is the only country in the entire Middle Eastern region that is a democracy, so lets put our money where our mouths are and let EVERYONE engage in a peaceful demonstration without slandering them. And third, take a good look at yourself. Are you really that honest? Do you pay all of your taxes, and on time? Do you give your employer 100% of your time, concentration, efforts and energy during work hours? Do you pay your rent on time every single month? Do you ever try to get out of some duty or another? Has there never been a time you’ve paid a babysitter late? Because I bet you can’t honestly, say ‘yes’ to every single one of these. And if that’s the case, then woe betide you to criticize others for not doing their duty.
So be a mentsch. Say you disagree with what a group of people is protesting against, yes, but don’t demonize an entire sect – of YOUR people – because of it. That’s just the first step racism needs to end up G-d forbid leading to World War III. Let’s try and learn something from World War II and remember that at the end of the day we’re all exactly the same as each other. We’re just wearing different garbs and choosing different lifestyles.