Monday, January 26, 2009

Haredim and Settlements החרדים וההתנחלויות

While I agree with Uzi Benziman that the ultra-Orthodox are populating the West Bank, my analysis of their psychology differs. I propose that it’s not that they’re becoming more nationalistic, but rather that their worldview is retro-Diaspora, circa the Pale of Settlement.

What I mean by this is that like the Jews in pre-war Europe, the ultra-Orthodox have little connection to a given piece of land―anywhere, even in the Holy Land―and relate little to geography. Having never studied geography, many may not even be able to conceptualize the size and shape of this country, much less the significance of the Green Line.

Indeed, they lead what might be described as a downright liminal existence, state-wise: My perception is that a few savvy ones get involved politically, and the political involvement of the rest begins and ends at voting how their party leaders instruct them to vote.

Therefore, I imagine a harried ultra-Orthodox father looking for inexpensive housing for his growing brood musing, “Green line, shmeen line. Who cares? Just find me a house and we’ll worry about what happens later, later.”

While the result is the same as that described by Benziman, it may be important to understand what I perceive to be the underlying ultra-Orthodox psychology vìs-a-vìs place: It’s all the same to them, as long as they remain in their self-imposed (yet state-financed) enclaves.

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