I’ve Had Enough of the Hareidi Scapegoat

I recently criticized what I saw as the media’s one sided reporting on the Women of the Wall. It bothered me that I could only find arguments from the proponents of the group and none from their opposition. So I wrote my post and turned to my fellow bloggers for help. I’m thankful I did as through their help the real issue bothering me was drawn out.

The problem was a resurgence of something I hadn’t expected to see. I saw the classic hatred that never goes away come back in a new form. What I saw was the scapegoating of the Hareidim taking the front pages of our newspapers in the promotion of the feminists vs. the misogynistic Ultra-Orthodox canard.

The Hareidim spit at women. They marginalize them. They attack them physically. They consider their women inferior second class citizens. They prevent them from praying at the wall most holy to Jews. Now there are a group of heroines standing up for their rights. It makes sense that this should be front page news.

It’s why I felt so upset that the voice of the Hareidim was not being portrayed. I felt I was seeing the continuation of something horrendous taking place. One person even felt comfortable enough with this to tell me that the voice of the Hareidim should be stifled.

When did we, as a society, stoop so low?

I too have issues with the Hareidi community, but I am shocked at the way they have become scapegoated. Suddenly all the problems within the Israeli society have found their cause.

“The Hareidim.”

If only they would act differently, everything would be perfect. If only they would take part in society, give something back, things would be wonderful. Instead they take pride in being the scum of our society. The parasitic misogynistic slimeballs only want to take and not give.

How did we, as a society, stoop so low?

Before I continue, I think it is worth pointing out parenthetically that while the term Hareidi may conjure up images of Hasidim with streimels who speak only Yiddish, the term includes a much larger community. It includes many with black hats, small jackets, and clean shaven faces. It includes a wide spectrum of viewpoints and many different types of families. From my own involvement and background with those who are termed Hareidi, I know they are not misogynists as many have liked to portray them. Whether you agree with their desire to separate men from women -except in marriage- for religious reasons is completely beside the point.

Returning to the subject of the recent scapegoating of the Hareidi world; it’s ironic that their consistent claims against the Jewish denominations outside their community have so clearly become a reality. More than that, it’s become the norm.

Throughout Jewish history there have been two things keeping Jewish Identity alive: Those who have kept to the fundamentals of our faith and AntiSemitism. The latter point reared its ugly head most clearly through making a scapegoat of the Jews. Jews were blamed for everything from the black plague to the failures of society (i.e. greed etc.). Now we are doing the same to the Hareidim.

I don’t like calling Jews ‘Nazis’ and I’m not doing that here. I am saying that this marginalization thing has gone too far.

It’s too easy to blame a different group of people for the troubles we face. It’s another thing to face our own problems and try to figure out how to fix them. As Jews under oppression we had to work with the latter. Now that we have our own state we have discovered the ease of falling into the trap of the former.

And…well…Yeah. That’s pretty frustrating.

About the Author
Meir is a Political Science graduate of Lander College for Men (A Touro College branch in Queens NY) and a recent Oleh