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A Racist, Sexist, Homophobic Heart of Stone

Uri Misgav
Uri Misgav
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A young Orthodox man waves an Israeli flag amid clashes at Damascus Gate between Arabs and Jews during the Flag March in Jerusalem, last month.
A young Orthodox man waves an Israeli flag amid clashes at Damascus Gate between Arabs and Jews during the Flag March in Jerusalem, last month.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Uri Misgav
Uri Misgav

Ayala just wanted to shoot hoops. The 11-year-old kibbutz girl from Tzor’a prepared excitedly for her team’s home game against Elitzur Efrat. When her girls’ team was discontinued during the season, she was accepted as an equal on the boys’ team. But during warm-ups, just before the opening whistle, her coach informed her that she couldn’t play this time. She must sit this one out.

The reason, as reported by Judy Maltz in Haaretz: The opponent has players whose parents won’t have them playing basketball with a girl.

These callous people, living across the Green Line in an area never annexed to Israel, who should be thankful each morning for not being registered to play in the Palestinian Authority league, dared to come and enjoy the hospitality of a team in the state’s sovereign territory, and exploited a loopy section in the Basketball Association’s laws that allows them to refuse to play against a team with girls on it.

Nor did Ayala’s tears of shame and insult melt the “hardali” (nationalist-Haredi) heart of stone. As usual, only determined action availed. After speaking with the mother, the team manager informed the obnoxious guests that if Ayala doesn’t play, nobody plays. Lo and behold – the cowards relented. Suddenly it seemed that 11-year-old boys can post up with a girl their age, without horrid thoughts of sin roiling their innocent souls.

Reminder, for the thousandth time: The hardalim understand only force, and there is no room for any dialogue or compromise with them. The children of Elitzur and their friends in hardali-land are not to blame, of course. Only their parents are. But chances are good that in a few years they too will join the fundamentalist pipeline.

They’ll go to a hardali high school, a hardali prep school and an army-affiliated hardali yeshiva. They’ll be driven in buses to the Flag March to humiliate and terrorize the residents of Jerusalem’s Old City under the auspices of the security forces, to sing “Mohammed is dead” and “May your village burn down” to them. They’ll stand with inciting signs about “Sodom” in front of the Pride parade in Jerusalem, and be placed on shifts in protest vigils against anyone preferring a unity government with secular people, leftists and Arabs over the holy compact between the Bibi-ists, Kahanists and Haredim.

MK Nir Orbach screamed this week at the members of the United Arab List, who refrained from supporting the extension of the apartheid regulations in the occupied territories: “The experiment with you has failed!” To the opposition’s supporters of occupation and settlements, he had no complaints. It’s been a year now that the saga of the suffering of young Orbach has been with us, and it’s time to understand which experiment has truly failed.

On the political level, the vital and blessed attempt to incorporate the Arab citizenry in the coalition crashed upon Jewish racism and Bibi-ism, which seeks to burn the country down if King Benjamin isn’t on the throne. “Terror supporters,” they called Mansour Abbas and his UAL party members without shame, and on Friday’s news they even ran a poll about it. They libeled Naftali Bennett and Gideon Sa’ar for “selling the state to the Arabs.” Imagine a country where Jews and their integration into the political system was treated like that.

Actually, no need to imagine. There was one, less than 100 years ago. On the other hand, hardali-land is showing signs of a sober, forgiving approach to that issue. Learned rabbi Meir Mazuz published a fatwa about Yair Lapid and Avigdor Liberman, calling them “worse than the Nazis. At least the Nazis loved their people.”

Therefore, the great experiment that has truly failed is living here together, with the hardalim and the Haredim. Efrat, after all, is also the name of a heavily-budgeted anti-abortion movement. Soon that ill wind will blow here at full force, from Texas and Poland, joining the other efforts at excluding and degrading women and gays, along with the Sabbath terror, the kashrut mafia, the opposition to organ donations and all other apples of the eye of the fundamentalist forces of evil. It won’t hold, this loose federation of Israel and Judea. We must divorce.

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