Taking From the Playbook of Expansionism, The Hassidim

Are the Hasidim Who Are Overtaking Areas Like East Ramapo, Lakewood, Toms River, Monroe-Woodbury, and on, and on… Like Israel, Antwerp, Britain, and on and on…Expansionists or Imperialists?

by LostMessiah, March 7, 2016

Wikipedia defines Expansionism as follows:

In general, expansionism consists of policies of governments and states that involve expansion in such context as the military, economy, etc. While some have linked the term to promoting economic growth (in contrast to no growth / sustainable policies), more commonly expansionism refers to the doctrine of a state expanding its territorial base (or economic influence) usually, though not necessarily, by means of military aggression. Compare empire-building, colonialism, and Lebensraum.

Irredentism, revanchism, reunification or pan-nationalism are sometimes used to justify and legitimize expansionism, but only when the explicit goal is to reconquer territories that have been lost, or to take over ancestral lands. A simple territorial dispute, such as a border dispute, is not usually referred to as expansionism.

In a Sparknotes.com comment on the differences between Expansionism and Imperialism, the distinction is the use of a military presence. Expansionism is a view towards looking at development where Imperialism is classified as “imposing a military presence and colonial government…”.

Interestingly, criticism levied upon the Hasidic community is labeled as anti-Semitic. Those who criticize are deemed to be anti-Jewish, self-hating or anti-Semitic. The ultra-Orthodox community wastes no time comparing language that otherwise calls into question their behavior as human beings and not necessarily as Jews. The Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox rely on the anti-Jewish brutality of the Nazi regime during WWII to defend all of their actions. In fact, when asked why they have so many children, the usual response, “to replace the 6Million Jews lost at the hand of Hitler.”

Yet, those same ultra-Orthodox are the last to look in the mirror and scrutinize themselves, using that same history as a basis. Their geopolitical, philosophical and expansionist agenda in terms that cross norms of modern society is not a thought or an afterthought. Were the ultra-Orthodox to take that look, scrutinize themselves, make the necessary comparisons, they might find a very horrifying picture painted before them.

Any comparison of the expansionist/imperialist practices of the ultra-Orthodox community, including the intimidation and blockbusting, the overtaking of public school systems, the voting in of elected officials by a cohesive block, the silencing of people within their own communities is all too similar to the methods of Hitler’s Third Reich and Stalin’s Red Army.

In fact, and again, something about which LostMessiah  is uneasy, in a quote from AISH.Com, an online Orthodox information source, in a piece entitled German Expansion & War, Hitler’s insatiable appetite swallows up most of Europe, the similarities are all too obvious.

“With rising power, Germany began to take what they felt was rightfully theirs. The German population of 65 million felt they needed a little stretching room. They considered expansion for “Lebensraum,” living space, their inalienable right.”

The ultra-Orthodox claims of entitlement over land, over subsidies, over Medicaid, over school districts and education funding, over reduced taxes is rhetoric that is unsettlingly familiar.

At risk of inciting hatred, which is really not the intended consequence of this article, we are going to stop here. We leave you to ponder the rest.

For further reading, however, on the sense of entitlement of the ultra-Orthodox community, we will suggest the following articles:

Them and Them, The New Yorker Magazine, 2013

East Ramapo Cuts Fostering Anti-Semitism, The Jewish Week, June 24, 2014

What You Don’t Know About the Ultra-Orthodox, CommentaryMagazine.com, July 1, 2014

The Not So-Simple Majority, this American Life From WBEZ, September 12, 2014

Ultra-Orthodox Celebrate Rollback of Israel Draft Law, The Forward.com, May 6, 2015

How Orthodox Are Blocking East Ramapo School Reform Measure, The Forward.com, June 15, 2015





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