Friday, July 17, 2009

The real "demographic threat" ה"איום הדמוגרפי" האמיתי

In response to Dror Yehezkel’s piece on demanding that the Arab states recognize us as a Jewish state עברית, talkbacker Eric responded: "If indeed Israel IS a Jewish state, then why is it importing Russian atheists to populate the West Bank, based strictly on their lineage?"; while talkbacker Mark Lincoln of Houston, TX, adds: "Paranoia is the national pastime: A sound practice before the decisive Yom Kippur War; a national curse since. The curious thing is that as the real threat has vanished, the hysteria about `the threat` has increased. Whereas the major security threats to Israel were external for its first quarter-century, the major security threats for the last 30 years have been of Israeli device."

Apropos paranoia, the very words “demograhic threat” make me cringe. How can anyone in this day and age even utter that phrase and take themselves seriously? To view an entire group of human beings not as such, but as a phenomenon? On the other hand, how can I then justify my unapologetic loathing for the ultra-Orthodox? I suppose the difference lies in the fact that I see the ultra-Orthodox as lording it over us non-Orthodox. How else can we explain what can only properly be described as their mass tantrums עברית, i.e., dumpster-burning whenever they don’t get their own way?

Let’s even suppose for the sake of argument that in some warped world, rioting as a protest to a denial of one’s rights (a free parking garage open on the Sabbath, say) has its place. But rioting in response to a fellow citizen’s undergoing the accepted consequences of abusing her child? Certainly never heard of such a thing in the Pali community. And yet we label the latter a threat. If any group threatens our existence as a democracy, it’s the ultra-Orthodox.

Here’s my favorite sentence from the article: “[in arresting the mother], the police destroyed the delicate relations built for years between the city and Haredi community, the officials said.” So now it’s the fault of the police that our “delicate relations” with the ultra-Orthodox are destroyed? Everything was fine until the evil Jewish Gestapo had the gall to intervene in our “internal” affairs?

And let’s talk about these delicate relations. When I hear that phrase, what I read is: the non-Orthodox tiptoeing on eggshells for 60+ years in a grossly misguided attempt not to offend the ultra-Orthodox and set off rioting. If a woman described her relationship with her husband to me this way, I wouldn’t have to be a therapist to see that she’s in an abusive relationship. And with an abuser, there’s no “talking it out” or “negotiating” or “processing” or “if I’m ‘good’, he’ll stop”.

If we wouldn’t counsel a woman in an abusive relationship to placate her abuser, then why, oh why, do we continue trying to placate the ultra-Orthodox, whose behavior is nothing more or less than bullying? With a bully, if you can’t exit the situation, you set boundaries, i.e., “I refuse to be treated this way”. Two-year-olds who learn that tantrums will get them what they demand grow up to be bullies and abusers. If it wasn’t transparently, abundantly, crystal-clear before this, it should be now: If any minority community needs to be “put in its place”, it’s the ultra-Orthodox.


  1. There is a clear difference between the ultra orthodox and the orthodox. I expect without any doubt that the latter would be and are as condemning of child abuse as the non orthodox and the non believers.


  2. I re-read my post, and made no reference to the Orthdox. I believe it to be clear that I'm talking about the ultra-Orthodox, no?

  3. Oops, looks as if one Jewish state isn't enough; you'll need the Jewish equivalent of the Berlin Wall, separating the irrational Haredim from the rest of you who want to live a reasonable and sensible Jewish life according to your choosing. No matter how this plays out, you'll see each other as "too Jewish" and "not Jewish enough" and find yourselves making unpleasant judgments. We can hope for wise ones.

  4. Well, Mollie, as my friend Cindy says, "Jewish observance is like driving on the freeway: Everyone who drives slower than you is an idiot; and everyone who drives faster than you is an idiot". There is just no way we're all going to agree. The only solution: Let it go and just allow the universe to unfold. Zen, yes, but as Dr. Phil would say about the present situation, "How's that workin' for ya?"