Some Perspective on the Haredi Funeral Fiasco in Brooklyn

Haredi groups in both Israel and New York routinely flout most civil laws and shirk nearly all civil obligations. In this they have an active partner – government.

In Israel and in New York, government panders to haredim, allowing them to get away with myriad shenanigans for the simple reason that haredim vote as a bloc. This allows ne’er do wells like diBlasio to get elected Mayor of New York, and ego-driven men like Netanyahu to remain Prime Minister in Israel. Because all they have to do in order to get hundreds of thousands of guaranteed votes (in NY) or a majority coalition (in Israel) is to pander to haredi interests.

This is why, in Israel, haredim do not have to serve in the army while everyone else must. It is why haredim get government stipends for a lifetime of totally unsupervised and unproductive study, while army veterans must pay for their three year university education. It is why every zoning and sanitation regulation – and most parking and street traffic regulations are not enforced in haredi neighborhoods both in New York and in Israel. And it is why haredi fiscal shenanigans, tax evasion, and taking illicit advantage of social welfare programs are largely overlooked by government officials in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, Brooklyn and other haredi strongholds.

Haredim can hardly be blamed for having an attitude of blatant disregard for law and societal norms. They feel they have paid for these privileges at the ballot box, because elected officials  have pretty much told them so.

Hence, when haredim cross the line, like now with the coronavirus violations in Brooklyn and Jerusalem, they are “shocked, shocked”, that police attempt to stop them. It is not the fault of the haredim. Like any willfully spoiled child, one cannot suddenly expect them to behave when they have never been asked to do so before.

Indeed, it is not the spoiled brat who is at fault, it is the parents. It is not the haredim who are at fault, it is corrupt, self-serving politicians who pander to them in order to guaranty their own sinecures. The only way to thwart haredi misbehavior is by demanding ethical behavior from secular political leaders. And that’s not likely to happen any time soon

About the Author
J.J Gross is a veteran creative director and copywriter, who made aliyah in 2007 from New York. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a lifelong student of Bible and Talmud. He is also the son of Holocaust survivors from Hungary and Slovakia.
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