I don’t think there can be any doubt that Satmar equals Neturei Karta in their opposition to Israel. Both hate it equally. The only difference is how far they will go in that opposition. It used to be said about Satmar that even though they are opposed to the existence of the state, they would never go so far as to join with Israel’s enemies the way Neturei Karta does.
Neturei Karta tends to join Hamas and other enemies of Israel in their anti Israel rhetoric. One of their more prominent members, Moshe Hirsch became Yassir Arafat’s foreign secretary (or some other high official office holder) a while back in a proposed future Palestinian State. And who can ever forget the lovely sight of Neturei Karta members kissing and hugging the former Holocaust denying President of Iran, Mahmud Ahmadinjad, who pledged to wipe Israel off the map.
Satmar never quite went that far. I’m not even sure they would do that now. But they seem to be inching closer to it. And in any case they indoctrinate their children to think along those lines. They may not be teaching them to kiss the Ahmadinejad of the world. But the vitriolic rhetoric is the same. Soldiers – even if they are Charedi – are vilified and harassed (as was demonstrated yesterday). One Eida HaCharedis Rav in Bet Shemesh‘Paskined’ that a soldier in uniform may not be counted into a Minyan even if he is Charedi. That Rav may not be a Satmar Chasid. But he completely identifies with their virulent anti Israel position.
Satmar and their sympathizers in places like Meah Shearim are the fastest growing segments in all of Jewry. A typical family may have 10 or more children. It is not too hard to project the orders of magnitude by which current numbers will increase in the next few generations. And this is the doctrine they teach their children. An illustration of which can be seen in the Mid-Hudson News:
Elementary and middle school-aged students assembled in lines, holding signs and banners denouncing the State of Israel as rabbis spoke to them in Yiddish, condemning the country and, at points, comparing the government leadership to the Egyptian Pharaoh of the Book of Exodus, the oppressive Roman emperor Titus, and Adolf Hitler.
“When they stole the term Jew from those who practice Judaism, they were not satisfied,” a translated transcript of a speech given at the event iterated.
“Their latest decree to conscript all our precious rabbinical students into their military institutions, which are rife with immorality and profligacy, is their latest attempt to exterminate the remnants of genuine Judaism.”
“In Israel, they have a government that is against religious freedom, and because of that, we want to explain to the children that it is against our religion and we are not with [Israel,]” Kaplan said. “There is separate Zionism and Judaism. They are not the same thing. We are Jewish and they are not Jewish.”
Imagine this doctrine of hate growing into becoming the mainstream Charedi view.
The current Charedi opposition to the proposed draft has given Satmar the opportunity (and cover) to bring that kind of opposition more out into the open. In the past that kind of rhetoric was kept pretty much in-house. Now it is being projected loudly and clearly to the outside world. What makes matters worse is that even Charedi rabbinic leaders that do not agree with Satmar’s stridency on the issue are beginning to join them at their rallies. That adds the perception of legitimizing their views.
That big Satmar organized anti draft rally in Manhattan a few weeks ago was attended by many Roshei Yeshiva and Roshei Kollel – both Chasidic and Lithuanian. In order to encourage support and attendance by the Lithuanian Yeshiva world, Satmar went out of its way to advertise this as an anti draft Rally and not an anti Israel rally. But Satmar has long ago established itself as anti Israel and everyone knows it. Standing on the same stage creates the perception of endorsing their views.
This is why Lithuanian rabbinic leaders oppose standing on the same stage with Conservative and Reform rabbis. Even if is for purposes of outreach. And even if they clearly state that they do not endorse those views. And yet in the case of Satmar, those same Lithuanian rabbinic leaders attended that rally without a word of explanation about their differing views! The rhetoric coming out of the mouths of some of those speakers did little to dispel that notion. I guess when it comes to the draft, well we can partner with the devil.
Is it any wonder that some of them do the kinds of things those sociopaths did yesterday to that Charedi soldier?
I am beginning to believe that they are not sociopaths at all. They are mainstream Satmar or Satmar sympathizing Jews acting on their beliefs. Which is why we are not hearing any condemnations of what they did. Their leaders aren’t opposed to it. They may even support it! …even if they won’t come right out and say so.
Is there any Charedi rabbinic opposition to what happened yesterday? The only one I am aware of that said anything is Rav Gershon Edelstien. He called the rabble that did this ‘imbeciles’ whose actions were counter-productive to the legitimate goals they were trying to achieve.
That was the biggest ‘but’ I have ever heard… Sure they are imbeciles. But they are not wrong in their goals. They are just going about it in the wrong way.
Gone are the Rav Chaim Shmulevitzes who understood and appreciated the value of even Chiloni IDF soldiers. Now, instead of appreciating them, a Charedi soldier is pelted with rocks and no-one says a word about it. Only how unproductive such behavior is!
This is the state of affairs in Israel’s version of Torah Judaism today. The rate of growth in this community outpaces all other communities. It will eventually result in their outnumbering everyone else. Centrist and Modern Orthodox Jews, while having bigger families than the average, come nowhere near the typical family size of Chasidim and other Charedim. And they are a much smaller number to begin with.
Which raises the question: Is extremist Judaism the wave of the future? Will extremism become our ethos? Will the current trend of a melding moderate Charedim and Centrists in America - by living together, living identical lifestyles, having similar values albeit differing Hashkafos – come to an end? Will this new anti Israel stridency cause a rift between us?
I know that basic economics is already forcing a small degree of change in the Charedi paradigm in Israel. But the concept of Daas Torah will remain even as many are forced by circumstances to join the workforce. They will see themselves as ‘Nebechs’… as their rabbinic leaders continue to encourage that type of thinking.
I don’t know what the future holds. But from my perspective right now and right here in July of 2013, it does not look so good.
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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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