Analysis / The ultra-Orthodox are returning Israel to the middle ages
In a country established on the principle of integrating Jews from all over the world, the ultra-Orthodox have become a leading force behind racism and division in Israeli society.
From week to week, month to month, and year to year, our situation is getting bleaker. They do what their rabbinical leader tells them to do. They don't recognize the authority of the state, or its institutions or laws, aside that which is related to the government's coffers.
They don't recognize the national anthem or the Israeli flag. They don't recognize methods of birth control, and instead fulfill the religious commandment of being fruitful. They educate their offspring to hate the state.
In a country established on the principle of integrating Jews from all over the world - which succeeded rather well in terms of the secular society - the ultra-Orthodox have become a leading force behind racism and division in Israeli society.
When former Sephardi chief rabbi and Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef - whose children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have studied and continue to study at Ashkenazi educational institutions - calls for the Sephardi public to send their children exclusively to Sephardi institutions, he is sowing the seeds of racism. And his reasoning is that anyone who studies at an Ashkenazi school "will have an Ashkenazi mind."
For a country working to bring Jews from around the world together, the Haredim are taking us back to the Middle Ages. "Racism" of this kind has almost entirely disappeared within the secular community. A huge number of "mixed" marriages are seen throughout the country, with the question of which community the bride or groom is from almost a thing of the past - or at least on the path to extinction.
Haredi racism is an abscess on Israeli society that needs to be removed as soon as possible. As it appears impossible to solve, and as if it's only getting worse, I am left with no other way to put an end to this other than reference to a poem by the German poet Heinrich Heine: "Rabbi Yehuda, a man of Navarre, and a Franciscan father by the name of Jose, in Toledo stand before Don Pedro (known as "the cruel" ) and beside him his wife Donna Blanca, on the question of whose God is greater. At the end of the debate, Don Pedro asks his wife for advice. I don't know who is right, she said, putting her hand on her forehead in thought and saying, 'But if the rabbi and the priest could both move back a little; both of them stink.'"