Toulouse – Beit Shemesh on the 49a Via the Tal Overpass

Dissention is a hallmark of the Jewish nation. We know how to grieve together, but not live together. This may be because we are hardwired to have beliefs that run strong but, as in those cases sited in the title of this blog, much of our strength is wasted on self-disparagement and self-abuse.

The recent attack on a chareidi school in a French provincial capital — hitherto unnoticed except for those involved in the aerospace industry — has now become a flash point for concern.

Jews in Toulouse have been targeted for the heinous crime of being one of our hated race, and the nation’s heart pulls together. Yet only a short time ago the world at large heard not the strident cries of Jewish mourning but the big beat of war drums set against the same high-profile, minority group to which each of the Toulouse martyrs belonged.

A Nagging Discrepancy

The time has come to realize that the nagging discrepancy between what Jews feel and what they say is very nearly suicidal. Jewish self-hatred empowers virulent neo-Nazi and radical Islamic behavior.

The above statement may not be new to you: 1) because I have already made that point in an earlier blog entry; 2) I have been saying it long enough for the rest of the world to have picked up on it.

Even so, it seems to me that the causes of symptomatic Jew-hate are well worth disclosing. Nor do I mean the inherent dislike that many, many untutored non-Jews harbor for any representative of zera Yaakov. Just as we are hardwired to be passionate in our beliefs, so too the greater majority of the rest of the world will always be dead set against us, even if they deny it.

But the conclusion to be drawn thus far is that Jewish nation is inextricably linked together, just as all land masses may have at one point been joined or horses are purported to have gotten to America from Asia via the Aleutian Islands. Neither is it because Jews in the Diaspora  we are commonly perceived as extensions of the Zionist state, even though they may violently disagree with its practices.

The fact remains that we are one big family. Any family may have branches that are less observant or members that consider family ties to be less than crucial. Still the question remains: at what cost one group should be allowed to deny another group’s validity or even its right to exist?

Anxiety and Educational Concerns

A Reuters article published in December of last year proclaims that “Critics are concerned the poor education of the state’s fastest-growing population, known in Hebrew as “haredim” or “those in awe,” threatens Israel’s thriving economy and cutting-edge research and innovation.”

The well-known, anti-chareidi journalist Maayan Lubell who penned this diatribe then quotes economist Dan Ben-David, head of the Taub Center for Social Policy Research, who advises us that there are two Israels:

“One is a state of high-tech, universities and medicine at the forefront of human knowledge. And then there are all the rest, who make up a huge and increasing part of Israel and who do not receive the skills or conditions to work in a modern economy.”

Sorry, I don’t understand. A later New York Times article, ostensibly dealing with what is supposed to be a “seismic rift over role of women,” as elucidated by the tussle over where ladies shall sit in buses serving exclusively chareidi areas, offers a very interesting statistic as per our discussion.

The chareidi population of Israel (not Boro Park or Brooklyn) is 10% of the general population. And that probably includes university educated Dati Leumi adherents who sport knitted yarmulkes and sandals rather than black hats and suit coats.

So what, we must ask Ms. Lubell, is the mission? How can a piddling 10% — unless they are Palestinian terrorists who wracked out the Israeli GDP by destroying the tourist trade from 2000-2007 — do any harm at all?

What difference does it make what chareidi schools teach or don’t teach as long as they are not madras hot beds of extremism? No one in the US is concerned about what is going on in Mormon or Scientology high schools or Amish school houses.

And even if, as economist Ben-David says, the chareidi sector is rapidly growing due not only to its fecundity but rather to the secularists’ pious devotion to zero population growth, so what? How can 10% become a threat to the economic life of a vast majority within any envisioned amount of time?

Running Scared

The answer is that the Israeli secular society is running scared and with good reason. They know very well that they are in the wrong.

Though I am not any kind of fan of Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak, I do remember perhaps overhearing a tape in which he discussed or quoted at length an entry from a Palestinian terrorist’s diary.

You will forgive me for being so sloppy as to work from memory and offer a free translation as well, but the gist of it was that a Palestinian political prisoner witnessed an Israeli guard eating pita on chol hamoed Pesach.

He must have been an intrepid of sorts, as he asked the guard how it was that he’s eating leavened bread on Pesach. Jews aren’t supposed to do that, are they?

The answer he got was very telling: “That’s past history,” or some such.

“I realized at that moment,” the future terrorist writes, “that Israel has no hold on this land. A people in denial of their past can have no future. It was then, though until now my approach had been non-violent, that I became aware that terror is the only response that they can understand.”

It really is quite that simple. If you can’t remember yourself who you are and what you must do, then you will have to be painfully reminded.

If chareidi-trouncing and Jew-badgering is the way the new nation of Israel shows the world that it’s “not one of them,” then methods will be found to prove that social justice and legal profundity are just an elaborate display of denial.

And if you live by Theodore Herzl’s mistaken premise that the Jews are just like any other nation, just wait. The UN will investigate your internal policies for humanitarian reasons.

About the Author
Y.B. Fishel holds cum laude degrees from Princeton and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, as well as written ordinations from members of Israel's highest, ultra-Orthodox authorities. His reason for being around ToI is to provide a chareidi insider's view of what's happening in Israel.
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