Latest update: June 2nd, 2013
As this post is being written, there should be a parade taking place in New York in support of the State of Israel. I am happy to report that the OU is in full support of this parade as indicated at its website. As is the Jewish outreach group Aish HaTorah.
This is a very important statement to make at this moment in time. Not only because of the existential threat from places like Iran, or from terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah; not only because of the unsettled situation in Syria – where no matter who wins the civil war there hostility towards Israel will certainly remain; and not only because of boycotts from movements like BDS, some academics, and entertainers… but because of the internal turmoil among our own people in the State.
It is a turmoil that is no longer based on the divisions between secular and religious. It is turmoil between religious and religious. I do not recall any time in Israel’s history where there has been such a divide between religious Jews on two issues of such paramount – even existential importance: 1) equalizing army service for all citizens and 2) requiring a core curriculum of Limudei Chol in order to maintain government funding.
The battle lines are clearly drawn. And the right wing clearly sees the left as the enemy. And by left I mean those who dare to support either of those two issues. Even and perhaps even especially non Charedi Orthodox Jews.
How sad it is that those who only wish to see betterment for Israeli society as a whole are vilified in ways that Czarist Russia and even Nazi Germany were. It is beyond my understanding that the right sees only evil here. That those who support even the slightest deviation from the status qou to be destroyers of Torah. There are no words minced in this regard. As recently as today YWN reports that Rav Ovadia Yosef has used very strong language in this regard referring to those who support these issues as: “our enemies, those who hate us rise up against us”
I am not going to get into the reasons why I personally support these two goals. I have already done that multiple times. But it is a one sided battle. Supporters of an equalized draft and a required core curriculum do not see Charedim as the enemy. They have said time and again that this is not about destroying Torah or even changing the Charedi lifestyle. It is only about leveling the playing field. Even if they are seen as badly mistaken – vilifying them in this way makes absolutely no sense!
Not that the Charedi right wing has ever supported participating with the rest of Klal Yisroel in public support of the Jewish State. But now they have found a new reason to boycott it. They say that participating in the same parade where there is an identifiable contingent of gay people marching along side with them is tantamount to legitimizing their lifestyle.
This is really a stretch. To say that one cannot support a cause just because a group shows up that you do not approve of is as ridiculous as one can get. If a group of gay people said they were coming to join them in prayer at a large Kinos Teffilah (prayer rally) would they have cancelled it? Would they say that because they are there, our showing up legitimizes them?
This is not about supporting a gay pride parade. A gay pride parade should be boycotted. There is no reason to take pride in one’s sexual preferences – gay or straight. This is about supporting the Jewish State.
That said, I don’t see why any group has to identify itself as gay or straight in this parade. Why do they have to make this about themselves? If you are gay, by all means come and support the State of Israel today. Why make your sexual orientation known? How does that benefit the State? Who cares what your sexual preferences are? Who care what my sexual preferences are, for that matter? Is there a ‘Straights for Israel’ segment in the parade with placards to that effect? It seems to me that making this statement at this event is more about legitimizing themselves than it is about supporting Israel.
Be that as it may, it should not prevent anyone from joining in this very important day. We must send a message to the world that the support for Israel is very strong and across the board in all denominations. That there is no daylight between us in supporting the Jewish State – even as many of us have some criticisms about one thing or another going on there.
One cannot overlook all the good that has come because the existence of a Jewish State. The world has benefited greatly from its existence – including the Charedi world. Where would the current system of Yeshivos be if not for the State? Is there any sane person alive who believes that Limud HaTorah in the land of Israel would be as great in both quality and quantity without the State of Israel?!
Charedi Israel rarely recognizes this. Mostly you hear nothing but complaints about not getting enough support. This entirely ignores the fact that their numbers would only be a small fraction of what they are now – had there been no state.
Charedi Israel rarely recognizes the home the State of Israel gave to every survivor of the Holocaust who needed it by opening its doors wide for after declaring its independence.
Charedi Israel rarely recognizes the fact that the IDF has put their lives on the line so that Charedim can learn in relative safety for over 65 years.
When are they finally going to publicly recognize all the state has done for it? Even if they never gave them a penny, they have given them safety and the infrastructure of modern state enabaling them to live a middle class lifestyle! Is that not alone worth support? Why can a Gadol like Rav Chaim Shmulevitz recoginze it… and yet no one else these days seems able to do so?
My hope is that the call for a boycott is met with an outpouring of American Charedim attending. I hope that there are as many black hats as there are Kipot Seuga. It’s about time that all the anti-Israel sentiment by the right is completely rebuffed by mainstream Charedim. What better time to start than right now? What better way to start than at this parade?
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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