For many years the culture war has hung over us like a dark cloud, like a threat. Now it is happening; the war has erupted. The great Haredi rebellion has begun and is raging on several fronts - in Jerusalem, Ashkelon, Jaffa, Immanuel, Be'er Sheva - and no place is safe. The ultra-Orthodox public, which has always been cutting down our trees, is now uprooting them. It will destroy basic values, without which a democratic, developed state cannot exist. It will be lost unless it fights back.

This was to be expected, despite our attempts to ignore and deny it. This is what happens when there is no agreement on the source of authority. Their source is the halakha's dead letters, to each rabbi his own, while our source is the living fountain flowing through government, court and Knesset - democracy's authorized, elected institutions.

Thus, even negotiations in good faith have little chance of success. So far all the attempts have failed, not only about archaeological digs. It's like the deaf talking to the blind - they are the deaf, we are the blind, who refuse to see reality as it is and where it is going.

No negotiation or agreement are possible with people who have no God but their father in heaven and his representatives on earth; whose sovereign is God almighty and they are his self-appointed spokespeople. We, too, have a God, but he is on earth, in our heart and consciousness. We, too, have a sovereign - the people and its elected, not anointed, representatives.

The Haredim have declared a rebellion now for an obvious reason. They know they have a good chance of winning. In every other country they obey the state authorities. Only here, in the state they made no effort to establish and make no effort to maintain, are they a law unto themselves.

We have brought this calamity upon ourselves with our own hands, with our weakness and concessions. While every country worthy of the name makes efforts to separate state from religion, here they are mixed together, wallowing in the same mud, both getting soiled.

Only in Israel are they such heroes. Everywhere else they are submissive and docile. It wouldn't occur to them to curse judges in America or attack policemen in Europe.

The Haredim of Zion and Jerusalem do not recognize the Zionist state's legitimacy, yet they eat off its table. They kick every bucket, but will not give up the milk. The Jewish state, on its part, is giving up the democratic part of its definition.

The walls are shaking, and the state's leaders keep mum. To this moment we haven't heard a single official word. Nothing about stopping the discrimination between secular and Haredi students, or the discrimination against Sephardi girls in Haredi schools. Nothing about quashing violent demonstrations of heresy against the rule of law.

This is a war that has been forced upon us, a war we cannot afford to lose. The rebellious Haredim must be put in their place, so that we, too, have a place in which to live.