Actually, you DON’T have the right to protest

No, the title does not refer to the Haredi demonstration in Jerusalem of earlier today. While I vehemently disagree with the premise of that protest (and believe that the choice of venue was the most disruptive, insensitive and ridiculous choice), THEY indeed DO have such a right.

I am instead referring to an upcoming “follow-up” protest to take place in the New York area next week, on March 9th.

As reported in .nrg, thousands of Americans will gather on March 9th in the New York area to protest against the “horrible decrees” of the Israeli government regarding the drafting of Haredi Jews into the IDF.

To those who would consider going to such a protest in the United States, I simply say: Be Quiet! No, you do NOT have the right to protest this.

On SO many levels you would be wrong to stand side by side with your fellow Jews for such a demonstration. First, is the Chilul Hashem factor. In front of the non-Jewish world and sure to be carried on television and in the media, thousands of Jews will be decrying the “evil government of Israel.” Yes, indeed, that looks like wonderful  fodder for hate mongers: “What do you want from US? Even the JEWS think Israel is evil!”

Secondly, this bill that is being hotly debated and has become a touch-stone of sorts of polarization of communities is one that was brought through channels in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament… yes, the ISRAELI parliament. You want to have a voice? You want to stand up with tens of thousands of your fellows who are of like mind on this subject? Then, get on a plane, make Aliya and have your voices heard. Do not go to Madison Square Garden (or wherever the plan is to hold this protest), stand there and tell the Israeli government that it is wrong and then turn around and go back to your homes in Lakewood, Monsey and all other locations in between. Your rights and your voice to weigh in on this issue come as a RIGHT of LIVING in this country… not while standing 6,000 miles away.

No, you do not have the right to protest this… unless you take upon the Mitzva of Aliya (mentioned over 80 times in the Torah), move here and become citizens. Until you choose to do that, please keep your feelings to yourselves.

About the Author
After living in Chicago for 50 years, the last 10 of which Zev Shandalov served as a shul Rav and teacher in local Orthodox schools, his family made Aliya to Maale Adumim in July 2009. Shandalov currently works as a teacher, mostly interacting with individual students.