Saturday, July 18, 2009


Tel Aviv Blathers about Riots

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Well known Israeli blogger Lisa Goldman nee journalist comments on France 24 about the Jerusalem Riots with the following insulting condescending statement...

“Any attempt to intervene in their affairs, they see as an attack on their society”

The people behind these riots are extreme Ultra-Orthodox Jews, so they're really a very small minority. These people live in another world. Their customs are based on 18th century Eastern Europe. They speak Yiddish, not Hebrew. They live in Jerusalem for religious reasons but they don't believe in Israel - it's a secular state. They don't accept the law. Any attempt from the civil police to intervene in their affairs - like this one - they see as an attack on their society.

Communication between the Ultra-Orthodox and the police/ rest of the community is not good. We simply do not interact with them. They live in an isolated area. They don't go to secular schools or universities, they don't work. They refuse to serve in the army. We don't even speak the same language. We're like foreigners to them.

They suffer a high level of poverty. It's very normal to have 12 - 15 children per family and the husband is a full time scholar, studying in the Yeshiva [Talmudic educational institute] from 8am until 6pm. The wife has a baby per year after they're married at 18 and works full time at the Yeshiva doing administrative work. They live off state funding at what works out at around €800 per month. They have a strong faith that ‘God will provide'. It's a lifestyle that the vast majority of Israeli people just cannot understand.

It will die down - it always does. The mayor will threaten not to collect their rubbish or something, and they'll forget about it. The Ultra-Orthodox go through a period of rioting every few months. Something always sets them off - a gay event, a cinema opening on Fridays..."

I replied:

Disenfranchised Minority Expresses Frustration

Ms. Goldman comments on a "very small minority", which is the traditional Tel Aviv view of the ultra-orthodox. However, their birthrate plus outreach drawing in others (to their religious ideals) has resulted in over 55% of grade school children in Jerusalem being from this "small minority".

Secular Israeli society's traditional approach to limiting opportunities and history of attempted cultural assimilation has resulted in this massively growing societal segment feeling completely disenfranchised from the system. None of the police facing off against them in these riots is wearing a yalmulkah, sidelocks or religious beard. Nor are the officials in the medical offices, social welfare offices, or city offices.

As such, when this community has a complaint or perceives a major bias, they have no one they trust with whom to speak on the other side. And when the system is taking even what may appear to be a valid action (to protect a seemingly abused child, for example - which is one of the issues in the current riots), those arriving from "the system" to take the action appear to be foreigners and are completely unaware of the sensitivities of the community which they are about to enter.

Because Tel Aviv believes these people to be backward (per Ms. Goldman's statement of "their customs are based on 18th century Eastern Europe"), they consider trampling the considerations of these backward peasants to be perfectly acceptable.

Unfortunately those 'backward peasants' are organizing instant coordinated community responses by cell phone and are growing sufficiently large as a segment of society that their concerns are becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.

Oh, and Ms. Goldman, the vast majority do work, you'd be surprised at the number serving in the army, very few women anatomically are capable of having "a child per year" (even starting at 18 the average family size is 8 over a 27 year period of potential fertility) and state funding was reduced to NIS 2,000 over 8 years ago (that's ~$500 per month or ~Euro 363 per month). No family of 10 people is living off of that.

The fact that secular Tel Aviv society believes it can trample this societal segments concerns may very well lead to a US style "long hot summer", perhaps finally opening the eyes of liberal Tel Aviv that their liberalism somehow always ends at the rights and concerns of the Jewish Religious Israeli, and that the doors of accommodation must not only be opened for a gay couple in Tel Aviv but also a religious family in Jerusalem.


josh said...

Actually, I think that maybe she was trying to isolate the vandals/rioters from the rest of the peaceful Haredi society. Akiva, are you now saying that the rioters represent and are condoned by the Haredim?

While I do support the Shabbat protests, this one seemed a bit exaggerated and overreacted.

A) what did it achieve? (The big victory is claimed about getting the mother released to house arrest - standard procedure) B) It seems that some elements took advantage of the protests to vandalize other symbols of government. If any other group had done that, there would be legitimate criticism of them. C) Do the Haredi members of Knesset really need such force from the street to act if there is an injustice? D) or perhaps the 'street' sees its leaders as weak and not reliable to handle 'external' issues.

I think that this specific event is embarrassing to the Haredim and you know how many rabbis advised against joining the free for all. This was not about Shabbat, this was not immediate action about preventing an autopsy, and this was not about blocking bulldozers from graves.

Anonymous said...

I took Lisa Goldman to task several years back during the latest lebanon war when she commented to Arab media about young jewish girls signing bombs as being from the lower segment of society. She's extremely judgemental and for some reason unknown to me is a spokesperson for Israel to the world at large. I think she's just an insecure jerk who is too lazy to figure out what's really going on. You can write her, but better yet, send what you wrote to her to the outlet who asks her opinion.

Akiva said...

Anonymous - did comment opposite her on the site.

Josh - No, I don't condone the riots with their unusually weak reasoning. But I do start to ask why, why does the community feel this is it's only method to approach 'the system'? And one of the answers I come to is the Israeli bureaucracy is a closed narrow system with little room for 'outsiders' - and therefore the charedi community has no one advocating their concerns within the system, nor people they can turn to or relate to when interacting with it.

With an non-representative form of government and the doors closed to participation 'in the system', the community has no one to express their point of view from the inside, no one to relate to when issues arise from the outside, and no stake in the game.

Socially very similar to the African American situation in the US in the 60's that led simultaneously to the civil rights movement and the 'long hot summer' of the burning of most US inner cities.

saus said...

Please don't generalize about Tel Aviv or non Haredi Israelis in this way Akiva..

Goldman is an extremely Liberal Canadian (now Israeli), she doesn't represent the views of Tel Aviv at large by any vote I know of. Nor do extremely liberal seculars represent Tel Aviv at large by default by any means. I live in South TA, 50% of my community around me is religious, many are full Haredi. I am traditional myself, we have Likud banners & Shas banners hanging all around in the recent elections.. This is inside Tel Aviv itself, not suburbs.

Taking a vocal minority with loud voices as a generalization of greater Tel Aviv is both unfair & factually incorrect. Tel Aviv is not your enemy, speak of very Liberal or Meretz supporters as you will, they are a political group with defined objectives - but don't cast please all non Haredi Israelis like this.

I would like to add that support for the recent riots in the Haredi community itself is low, polling has showed the Haredi community believes this rioting is hillul Hashem on Shabbat and serves only one purpose - Weakening ties between the communities of Haredi & Non Haredi Israelis for little gain.


Akiva said...

Saus - good points.

Related Posts with Thumbnails