Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Chametz Ban Round II חרם על חמץ, סבב שני

Referring to this article עברית:

Here we go again. At least this time (I have to give Shas credit) they’re starting the battle early, i.e., months prior to Passover. Gives everyone plenty of time to get their media licks in and do the requisite amount of keening and hand-wringing. In this corner — Shas. No explanations needed. In this corner — the confused, scattered, spineless stammering of the non-Orthodox.

First in this year’s lineup is MK Yohanan Plesner of Kadima, who walks straight into the decades-old semantic trap: “We support maintaining the Jewish character of the state. On the other hand, it is forbidden to change the status quo for the worse and to enter into people's dinner plates.” Go, Yohi.

Worst policy idea ever: Trying to fit vague concepts such as “the Jewish character of the state” into a legal context. No one can quite define this elusive Jewish character, but, like the judge said of pornography, “I know what it is when I see it”. Problem is, “I know what it is when I see it” is not a sufficient concept on which to base a law. Unfortunately, “Jewish character” is not like “quiet”, which it takes a certain decibel level to violate according to city ordinances. Decibel levels are an objective measure; everyone can agree that the wedding hall down the block is or is not violating the Noise Law. Not the case with “Jewish character”. Perhaps all Shas followers agree what constitutes it, but the rest of us don’t.

Even worse idea, policy-wise: “status quo”. Since when does “status quo” carry any legal weight? Does it merit being preserved even if it’s a bad idea? Why do all legislators, no matter their party affiliation, seem hell-bent on treating this status quo — which was cobbled together decades ago — like the sacred cow that it most certainly is not? Times change; perhaps we need to stop protecting this insidious and crippling “status quo”.

To quote Washington Post columnist Carolyn Hax on victims of abusive relationships: “We contort ourselves into pretzels [trying to appease our abuser], then wonder why we’re so uncomfortable”. Shas is bullying us into submission, no more, no less. The only way to put a halt to bullying is to stand up to the bully. Legislators, take note: You’ve got exactly four months to show us — and them — what you’re made of.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Yam,
    Interesting battle lines being drawn. Unfortunately for the secular citizens of Israel, the lines should have been drawn years ago. Demographics are trending against you. Good luck.