Haredism’s impact on Israel’s image in the Diaspora

Amidst signs of greater liberalization of Jewish identity in Israeli politics and society, the scars of the impact of religion on Israelis and Diaspora Jewry (the 2008 haredi-dominated High Rabbinic Court annulment of tens of thousands conversions by Israel’s Conversion Authority, as one example) has been significant. One indication of how deep the rift between Diaspora and Israel is is described below, a Comment appearing in my present JPost blog, Chapter Twenty-six: Israel as solution?, Part One. “Philosopher’s” (my disguise for the commenter’s identity) harshly criticized Israel as Zionist to which I began my response.

The haredization of Israeli Orthodoxy, and even Religious Zionism inspired by Rav Kook, has had a negative impact on life in the state of the Jews.

But your rage at Israel blinds you to its, yes, continuing importance to the physical survival of the Jewish people in a continuing hostile Diaspora.

Admittedly, Zionism underwent a transformation from its introduction into the United States in the early 20th century, a likely transformation throughout the Diaspora following the Shoah considering Jewish imperative of “putting the Holocaust behind us.” Who among us would choose to live under the conscious cloud of another such in our future? Certainly putting it out of our collective mind makes life more relaxed. But at what cost? Denial is comfortable, but hardly an adequate response to the threat.

But you, “Philosopher”, aware of the next and final Final Solution? For you to, based on an apparently painful personal experience failing aliyah; for you to join the ranks of “anti-Zionist” out of pique? You transform your experience into a personal vendetta which, were you to actually reach a larger than this blog permits Jewish audience might well reinforce the denial that, as with German Jewry before and after the Nuremberg Laws self-condemned to death at Auschwitz. And this, “Philosopher”, I find intolerable!


“Israel as solution?” is completely off topic, not saying a word about Israel, let alone “as solution…”

DT: Having been an avid follower and correspondent over the past two years you already know this chapter an introduction to the topic, not its discussion. And, as “introduction,” I “introduce” I provide background to the discussion. But, as your own “introduction,” you prepare the ground for what, no doubt, will be a detailed polemic based on your “personal” failure in Israel. Certainly disingenuous, but far more insidious.


We shall see that Israel diametrically contradicts fundamental Herzl’s ideas, to wit Jewish identity, secularity, tolerance and efficiency, thus being anti-zionist, a betrayal of Zion.”

DT: Either you intentionally overgeneralize or are unable to distinguish Israel’s evolution over the past seven decades as tactical responses to immediate need. In 1947 Ben-Gurion needed to reign in Orthodox opposition to a state before the 1947 UN vote. And so the secular socialist “father of the state” conceded several plums to the two Orthodox “parties” in order to entice them to join the First Knesset. Israeli politics, most democratic in the world, has always been fractious and no single party was able to win a majority to govern. Orthodoxy provided the swing votes necessary to form a coalition without “compromising” core majority party agenda. The greater the “need” for these parties, the greater their achievable demands. And so the social and political distortion you describe. But in the last election a “secular” coalition was formed and haredi political influence is daily challenged. Far from the theocracy you describe, Israel is still a vibrant and secular democracy. Albeit with a still too intrusive and militant orthodoxy. But even that is being contained. Something even you recognize:

But Israel based her rule on “ugly Yid’s” anti-Herzlian identity and survives only due to her proud Hebrews being there in spite of the anti-zionist rule and not letting themselves be bullied by ruling Yids.”

Your use of the terms, “Yids,” and, “ugly Yids” I write off, again, to whatever damage you experienced by your failed effort to integrate into the state of the Jews. Still, their appearance in you comment reminds of Roosevelt’s cousin’s objection to allowing Jewish children refuge from Auschwitz: “cute Jewish children will only grow into ugly Jewish adults,” or thereabouts.


The ignoble Law of Return is 100% religious. Whatever the prattle about amendments, it boils down to the religious Yid himself, or to his religious Yid parent or spouse. It’s a paradoxical, insulting and idiotic copy of Nzi Nuernberg laws.”

DT: So long as the Law of Return and the Grandparent Amendment stand in their present form and self-serving political expediency does not cave to self-serving and anti-Zionist Orthodox challenges Israel remains true to its Zionist mandate. Literally millions of “non-Jews” by haredi standards have found a home, if not a welcome by the Rabbinate, in Israel. Not a “perfect” welcome but under the conditions of the balance of power held by the numerically weak Orthodox community still significant (“Who is a Jew” consistently fails in the Knesset) hopefully the present secular trend continues and the distortions of Israeli society you describe will be turned back and even you, my friend, will one day find the acceptance and respect you, and all Jews, everywhere and regardless of religiosity deserve.

About the Author
David made aliya in 1960 and has been active in Jewish issues since. He was a regional director for JNF in New York, created JUDAC, Jews United to Defend the Auschwitz Cemetery during that controversy; at the request of Jonathan Pollard created and led Justice for the Pollards in 1989.