The Zionist ultra-Orthodox Are Cashing in Their I.O.U.

Those spending their Saturdays having fun rather than defending shepherds and farmers should not be surprised if the day after, Jewish fundamentalism even invades their bedrooms.

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Amira Hass
Amira Hass

The Haredim and Hardalim, as the non-Zionist and Zionist ultra-Orthodox are respectively known, are now cashing in their promissory note from Israeli society. Their bitterness at an ungrateful secular-nationalist public is certainly justified. For what is doing without women's singing in comparison to the direct line to God they offer us? And what are advertisements featuring men only compared to the blank check God gave all of us to be the masters of the entire Promised Land?

Haredi and Hardali Judaism sold three assets on credit to the Israel that desecrates the Sabbath and loves the charming, Arab-free views from the Galilee kibbutzim and the West Bank outposts. These are the assets that enable Israel to be indifferent to both the history that was and the history now in the making, and to live as an armed, gilded ghetto, a beloved outpost of the "developed" and "civilized" Christian West in the Muslim East.

A Nahal Haredi soldier. Credit: Eyal Warshavsky / BauBau

We could have clung to the historical, secular explanations for our ingathering in this land (briefly, the "final solution" of that same civilized Christian West, which also expelled us from the countries of the Diaspora ). This would have committed us to the humanitarian and earthly values and perceptions that have emerged from every struggle against ethnic persecution and oppression. But the historical explanation would also have obliged us to admit our similarity to other colonialist movements, and to understand that what was possible in the 18th and 19th centuries in America and Australia is not possible here and now.

To escape the contradictions created by history and its lessons, we chose to buy the meta-historical explanation of our armed, fortified presence here: no more and no less than God's promise to Abraham, from whom all of us are directly descended. This promise is what permits us, in our view, to do whatever we please to the people that dwells here, the natives of this land: to expel, to concentrate, to divide, to blockade, to impoverish, to dry out, to bomb, to uproot, to dispossess.

This same divine promise grants all Jews everywhere - even those who have never set foot in Israel - more rights in this land than any Palestinian who was born here. This land is ruled by a state that refuses to be a state of its actual citizens and thinks only of potential citizens from the Diaspora.

Ethnic head-counting is second nature to this state. Thus the Haredim and Hardalim know that the second asset they are selling is beyond price: their high birthrate. In the Haredi view, this high birthrate is worth more than any military service or tax payment could ever be.

The Hardalim, in contrast, combine this with a third asset for sale: lust for battle, and for ascending the military ranks, and a willingness to "die for our country" - all of which have been on the wane, relatively speaking, among other sectors of the population. In a state that has done everything in its power over the last several decades to miss any opportunity for peace, this military enthusiasm is a vital asset - especially as good neighborly relations in this region now seem more unachievable than ever before.

Hardalim and Haredim see that most of the Israeli Jewish public has eagerly bought these inexhaustible assets, so now they are continuing down the same consistent path. The Haredim and Hardalim simply long for wholeness: the divine promise and the laws of kashrut. They are offering soldiers in the demographic warfare in exchange for the non-mixing of women and men in the army.

The problem then is not the sellers but the buyers. The secular Jews who allow or even encourage the expulsion of Arab residents of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, Al-Arakib and Safed, should not complain if tomorrow, theaters and concert halls are required to set up separate sections for the female portion of the audience. And those who spend their holy Saturdays having fun rather than going out to defend shepherds and farmers from skullcap-wearing Salafists should not be surprised if the day after, Jewish fundamentalism even invades their bedrooms.

Read this article in Hebrew: לגרש פלסטינים, ולהדיר נשים



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