At the root of the struggle in Immanuel lies the issue that, on the face of it, has already been decided: Can a sector, community or group, in the name of its own private constitution, discriminate contrary to the laws of the state? Not every candidate can be accepted into every club, association or kibbutz, but the standards must be transparent and in line with the Basic Laws.
Since the Supreme Court ruling on Katzir, for example, no community is entitled to reject a person only because he is Arab. In reality, it is still possible to maneuver and make it hard for the candidates, but if they insist, the law is on their side, and the law must be enforced and respected. At this stage, the struggle over Immanuel is not internal but external, against those who refuse to recognize the authority of the court, whose decisions they must obey even if they don't like them.
The influence of rabbis, who are considered to be great jurists, must give way to rulings by Supreme Court justices. As has been said repeatedly, Israel was established to be a state with a Supreme Court, not one ruled by religious law. The Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox parents in Immanuel who are disturbed by what they consider religious laxity among Sephardi ultra-Orthodox parents sought to ignore the court's ruling. The original problem they stirred, the problem of discrimination, has now become an issue of principle regarding contempt for the rule of law.
The response was violent, with many hundreds of people demonstrating, and in the hope that the police would hesitate, the judges panic and the politicians surrender. When the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox parents showed up for two weeks of incarceration, they did so partially - only men. Their ploy worked: Late in the week the government backed their stance and said the women should continue to be allowed to avoid punishment.
This is a power struggle - as simple as that - and those who want to see a state of law and equality exist, in which halakha does not dictate everyday life, must not give in. It is always easier to pull back from confrontation - to evade, maneuver, concede and compromise for the sake of peace at home at the expense of the victims of discrimination. Basically, the accumulation of little defeats alters Israel's image until it becomes unrecognizable.
In the 21st century, Israel needs to decide where it belongs: in the OECD or in Immanuel. It is imperative to bolster the court and remind the ministers, MKs and parties of their responsibility and obligation to preserve the rules of the democratic game and back the Supreme Court's rulings.
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