I can’t think of too many things more disgustingly discriminatory than a government agency singling out a group for special scrutiny. The Internal Revenue Service has been found to be doing exactly that. Conservative political groups like the Tea Party that have applied for tax exempt status have had one stumbling block after another thrown at them while filing all the forms and dealing with all that red tape in trying to get that exemption.
Organizations with names like “Patriot” in them were flagged for extra review by by over-zealous agents. It remains to be seen how high up the flagpole of responsibility this goes. Lois Lerner, the IRS official who inadvertently exposed this activity pleaded the 5th amendment when she testified before congress yesterday.
This is one of those rare situations that unites people on both sides of the political aisle. Both conservatives and liberals in congress were outraged and both have condemned this practice at the IRS. The President was no less outraged and he too condemned it and promised to get to the bottom of it. One thing is certain. There is a lot we don’t yet know. But this is the stuff of totalitarianism… of the type found in the former Soviet Union. Truly scary stuff for the United States of America.
Which brings me to an article at YWN. It appears that Israeli government is doing the same thing. They are not targeting political opponents. They are instead targeting Haredi businesses and Yeshivos to see if they are complying with the law.
I have no problem with an over-all goal of making sure that businesses comply with the law. Assuming the laws are just and fair, they ought to be complied with. And there is nothing wrong with a government agency seeing to it that they are – as long as that kind of scrutiny is evenly applied to all businesses. But when a single group is targeted, it smacks of an agenda to harass that community. The title of the document leaked to the media makes it clear that only Haredim will be targeted. It is entitled:
“Directives- Initiated activity in the Haredi community – May 2013″
Can’t get much clearer than that.
I hope this is just an over-zealous Economic Affairs Ministry agent and not the over arching policy of the Ministry itself. If it is she ought to be fired immediately and replaced with someone who is not biased against Haredim… or anyone else. One thing is certain. Just like the U.S. is holding congressional hearings on this in order to get to the bottom of their scandal – so too must Israel have a thorough investigation of the matter so that Israel too can get to their scandal.
What kind of country is America going to be? What kind of country is Israel going to be? Will they be democratic and fair? Or will they become more like dictatorships that target people and groups they don’t like?
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About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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