Do the Haredim Present a Problem with the Argument that Anti-Zionism is also Anti-Semitisim
Lost Messiah, May 15, 2016
Addressing the whole leftwing antisemitism/anti-Zionism elision, Ephraim Mirvis, the chief rabbi of the UK, wrote recently in the Telegraph that Zionism “is a noble and integral part of Judaism” and that anyone suggesting otherwise is being “deeply insulting” to the Jewish community. There is a problem here. Where does this leave many of the Haredim?
We have written before on the comparison between the cultist fundamentalist Haredim to their cousins, the extremist Muslims, with the exception being that the Jewish counterpart tend not to like to explode things, setting a man on fire notwithstanding. We have commented on the hypocrisy of the Haredim who live in Israel and live off of the work of other Jews (and others) without compunction. We have admonished the Haredi fundamentalists who live in a small state with enemies at every possible corner, just waiting to destroy them, and yet refuse to serve in an army that protects them. The following, an opinion piece in The Guardian is written by Giles Fraiser who attempts to explain what to him appears an antithesis in that Haredim are themselves Jews and believe themselves to be the truest form of Judaism. We tend to disagree. We do not view the anti-Zionist Haredim as Jews but rather as a cult who have bastardized Judaism rather than purified it.
In our view, the anti-Zionist Haredim living in Israel are the greatest danger to the State of Israel and to Judaism as a whole. They set a world stage for the destruction of the State of Israel – for if our own people do not believe in its existence, why should the rest of the world? We believe that fundamentalist anti-Zionist Haredim provide a strong argument for fundamentalist Muslims to justify the wholesale acts of terrorism, not only in Israel but in countries like Belguim, France and England, killing Jews and non-Jews alike. For the rest of us are Heretics, whether Jews or Arabs, or anything else for that matter, why not slaughter us? Finally, in our view they provide a solid argument for any anti-Semitic hatred – if we can’t love and respect one another than are we better than the worst of mankind?
As we see it, the anti-Israel Haredim have no business living in a country they would not defend. The rest of our children go off into the army and defend Israel’s borders at the risk of peril. Why should our secular and non-fundamentalist observant children be defending the children of those who are wholly unwilling to do the same? The ultra-Orthodox fundamentalist Haredim should be reminded that were Israel’s borders to be breached by those wanting to toss every Israeli into the sea, their children would drown too.
We leave this discussion for you to ponder. A portion of The Guardian piece to follow.
For Haredi Jews secular Zionism remains a religious heresy
“Haredi theology began as a reaction to the 18th century Jewish enlightenment, the Haskalah, a movement that aimed at the modernisation of Jewish culture in Europe. Whereas the Haskalah wanted to end Jewish segregation and encourage greater engagement with modern ideas and secular society, traditionalists saw this as a threat to Jewish religious identity. Thus the Haredim stuck resolutely to their traditional clothes and ways. They would chat in Yiddish and only pray in Hebrew, too holy a language for social intercourse. And when the secular movement of modern Zionism started to take shape, they opposed this too: only God could bring about the new Israel, they argued. Trying to pre-empt God’s action through secular nationalism was a heresy. Judaism is fundamentally a religious community, they argued, and modern notions of race and nationhood are alien to it. Thus, for many Haredim, the state of Israel remains almost sacrilegious.
It’s not so long ago that even the chief rabbis of the UK thought something similar. In 1898, Mirvis’s predecessor, Chief Rabbi Naftali Hermann Adler, gave a sermon in which he condemned modern Zionism as usurping God’s role: “I look at this movement and worry with my heart, since I see it as opposed to the Torah of Hashem.” (Hashem meaning “the name” – that is, God’s name.) Compared with what others were saying, this is mild stuff indeed.
Yes, after a long and heated debate, mainstream orthodox Judaism was won round to the modern version of Zionism and now celebrates it enthusiastically. But the idea that those who oppose it are being “deeply insulting to the Jewish community” does rather depend on which Jewish community you mean. Chief Rabbi Adler’s successors might have changed their mind, but many deeply traditional Jewish communities have not. And these communities are growing. Currently the Haredim make up roughly 10% of the Israeli population. Given the current birth rate of about six children per Haredi mother, some predict they will make up 25% of the population within a few decades. And a significant proportion of these are somewhere on a scale from indifferent to downright hostile to the state of Israel, and refuse to serve in its army. Last year a uniformed IDF officer was pelted with stones, eggs and nappies in Mea Shearim.
Often dismissed as “extremists”, these Jews don’t fit with the neat secular narrative into which the Israeli government continues to woo them through education and army membership. But by refusing assimilation, the Haredim deliberately eschew the racy hi-tech Israel of those jogging on the Tel Aviv seafront. Personally, I admire their stubborn resistance to secular homogenised modernity and omnipresent capitalism, its companion. Furthermore, whatever else one may say about the Haredim, their anti-Zionism isn’t antisemitism. They stick to older, pre-Enlightenment promises about Zion. And why shouldn’t they?”
For the entire article click here.