11 March 2014


9 Adar Bet 5774

Besides its definition of "relating to citizens," the word civil has another meaning: "adequate in courtesy and politeness," as in civil discourse - something which is sadly lacking in Israeli society. For all the threats of a civil war erupting in Israel, what is happening right now is a very un-civil war. It is being expressed right now throughout cyberspace - the final frontier - on blogs, op-eds, article talkbacks and facebook comments in the most discourteous and impolite manner possible. And let me tell you, it's about as bloody as it can get out there. Just keep in mind that this is yet another battle in the war for hearts and minds.

I self-identify as chareidi-leumi although a chareidi will likely deny that I am in any way chareidi because I don't dress in dark colors or wear a wig or live in a 100% religious neighborhood or listen to their rabbis and a leumi will surely deny that I am really leumi because I reject the worship of state and army and take neither pride nor pleasure in the accomplishments of either. In any case, I say that because I think that enables me to see both the right and the wrong on both sides of this conflict. I think it affords me a bit more objectivity than those who are fully committed to one side or the other.

That said, I am inclined to believe that the chareidim are closer to the truth in these issues than any other group. Why? Look at who is attacking them... and why. For all their faults and erroneous ideas (who doesn't have those?), they are the ones perceived by both chilonim and goyim as the authentic representatives of Torah Judaism.  Whoever hates Judaism immediately targets chareidim and just like it was always acceptable to hate Jews in foreign lands, today, God forbid, it is acceptable to hate chareidim in Israel.

Today, there is a real ideological battle going on in the city of Beit Shemesh. It may even be historic. This thing has been coming on for a long, long time. I was aware of it at least in 1997 when I lived in Beit Shemesh. I was still studying for my Orthodox conversion after making aliyah as a "Conservative Jew." I was placed within a very modern Orthodox, dati leumi group and I have to tell you that I was appalled beyond belief at the snide remarks, hateful commentary and borderline antisemitic accusations I witnessed from this group against our chareidi neighbors. It wasn't so different from the anti-Orthodox sentiments the co-called "Conservatives" directed towards the Orthodox.

I'm thinking of giving some examples and I can't even bring myself to write such horrible things. What would make one kind of religious Jew speak about another kind of religious Jew in terms that the goyim used in Nazi Germany about all Jews??? How can that be?

Again, I say - look at who the perpetrators are and the methods they are using and it will give a clue about where all this is coming from...

In Beit Shemesh, a battle for every voter

Interior Ministry Checking into Mounting Complaints in Beit Shemesh Election

We're all caught between the Erev Rav and the Erev Zeir - like a mouse between the paws of a snarling cat.