web analytics
July 29, 2014 / 2 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 

Posts Tagged ‘Ben Gurion’

Next In Line

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Though the prices of airline tickets to Israel had soared with the increase in the cost of fuel this summer, my son Moshe was determined to visit his ailing grandfather in Jerusalem. His goal was to travel after Tisha B’Av, and to return to the U.S. in time to see his grandmother who would be visiting from Los Angeles. It was only with Hashem’s help that Moshe was able to be home to greet his beloved grandmother when she arrived.

After working long hours to build up his own savings, it was not easy for him to spend hundreds of dollars on just one flight. Though they did not have much advanced planning, our son kindly invited his sister along for the trip, knowing that she would love the opportunity to see her best friend who lived there. It was when we were packing that we noticed that our daughter’s Israeli passport had expired, and we asked our son if he would kindly assist in applying for a new one during their ten-day trip in Eretz Yisrael.

Moshe and Basya traveled to the Ministry of the Interior in Jerusalem to order a new passport on a Thursday. There were eight clerks working in the office, and my son and daughter were fortunate to be summoned to the counter of one of the nicer employees. They were told to come back the following Sunday to pick up the passport. Their flight was for Monday evening. That Sunday, both were relieved to receive the new passport.

On Monday afternoon, as the two were preparing to go to the airport, Moshe realized that his passport was missing. They were short on time. His options were to try to go to the airport and attempt to leave the country using only his American passport or not to try at all. Since our son had to help his sister get from Yerushalayim to the airport, he decided to try to get on the plane as well.

Moshe did not even have a chance. Security comes first and foremost at Ben Gurion airport. Moshe was sent back to Yerushalayim as his sister got on the plane to New Jersey. Basya arrived alone on Tuesday morning at Newark.

After returning to Yerushalayim, Moshe had a big job to tackle. His grandmother from Los Angeles was scheduled to arrive on Thursday afternoon in New Jersey. He had to work fast. He would have to find a way to circumvent the three-day hold on passport processing in order to get back to New Jersey on time. The only way he believed he would be successful was if he could be assisted by the very same lady who had serviced him the week before.

In order for this plan to succeed, not only would the same clerk have to be in the office, he would need to be called to her window. Then she would need to remember my son from the hundreds of clients she helped weekly. Finally, she would have to have the ability to issue a new passport on the spot.

It was a tall order. My son waited his turn in line, carefully watching customer after customer being called up to one of the eight windows. Would he be called to the right window? To our son’s great joy, the clerk that he was hoping to meet motioned him to her window! Moshe hoped that the mitzvos he performed in visiting his sick grandfather and going out of his way to help his sister had earned him enough help from Heaven to be able to catch the Tuesday night flight with a new Israeli passport in hand.

And with Hashem’s help, he was successful.

When we saw Moshe leaping to greet my mother as she arrived from California, our sense of gratitude deepened for the help we had received from the One Above.

The Generation That Transformed Jewish History

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

The establishment of the State of Israel sixty years ago, on 5 Iyar 5708 (May 14, 1948), was by no means inevitable.

From the moment the United Nations passed the partition resolution the previous November 29, the Arabs, desperate to thwart its implementation, ruthlessly intensified their attacks on the Jewish population of Israel.

Nearly 1,200 Jews, half of them civilians, were murdered by Arab marauders in the six months before statehood, and that instability – and fears for the survival of this remnant of Jewry that had survived the Holocaust – engendered a desire in many quarters to postpone statehood indefinitely.

General George Marshall, President Truman’s secretary of state, warned of an impending massacre of Jews that American soldiers would not – and could not – prevent.

The Brisker Rav, Rav Velvel Soloveitchik, strenuously opposed a declaration on the grounds that it would precipitate a war, and lead to the “destruction, God forbid, of the entire yishuv.”

These sentiments were fomented by voices in the Arab world predicting just that, most prominently the infamous boast of Azzam Pasha (secretary-general of the Arab League) on the radio that “this will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.”

The political pressures on the Jewish leadership were enormous – augmented by the painful loss of life, the ongoing siege of Jerusalem, and the sense that the approximately 25,000 ill-equipped Jewish soldiers – almost completely devoid of any heavy artillery or aircraft – could not adequately defend the nascent Jewish state against the Muslim hordes, vastly superior in numbers and weaponry.

At least seven Arab nations – some only independent states for less than a decade – were poised to strangle the Jewish state in its infancy. Conversely, for the first time in 19 centuries, the opportunity existed for Jews to be sovereign in their own land.

But at what price?

The Jewish Agency, under the direction of David Ben-Gurion, was itself bitterly divided. Should a state be declared, even with the knowledge that it would provoke immediate hostilities? If yes, then pursuant to what boundaries?

The partition boundaries – a truncated Israel consisting of three barely linked triangles in parts of the Galilee, the coastal plain, and the Negev – were not only unworkable on paper but had already been bypassed by facts on the ground. And what would this new state be called?

The United States government was fragmented in a remarkable and public way. President Truman wavered, though he was reasonably inclined to push for statehood and immediate recognition. Secretary Marshall was vehemently opposed, even telling Truman that if the Jewish state were recognized, he (Marshall) would publicly declare his intention to vote against Truman in that fall’s presidential election.

In one stunning episode in March, Truman had guaranteed Chaim Weizmann that the United States would support statehood, only to learn on the very next day that the American delegation to the United Nations had voted – upon instructions from the State Department and in defiance of Truman – for a UN resolution supporting a continued trusteeship in the land of Israel and suspending the implementation of partition.

Truman recorded in his diary that he was made to feel for the first time in his life “like a liar and a double crosser. There are peoplein the State Department who always wanted to cut my throat. They are succeeding in doing it.”

Rank Jew-hatred was another obvious factor in mobilizing opposition to a Jewish state. Conspiracy theorists who feared Jewish “world domination” (venomously ironic in light of the just concluded Nazi Holocaust that consumed six million Jews and that made so manifest the reality of Jewish powerlessness) campaigned vigorously against the formation of a Jewish state.

Some Christian theologians correctly perceived a Jewish state as a repudiation of the doctrine of the “eternal wandering Jew,” punishment for our “heretical” beliefs. Some liberal Jewish leaders dreaded that statehood would inevitably spawn accusations of “dual loyalty” against Jews in foreign lands, and that Jewish nationalism would erode the universalistic dimensions of Judaism they so prized and preached – to the exclusion of Torah, mitzvot, and the prophetic vision of the return to Zion.

Secretary of Defense James Forrestal played the Arab oil card and attempted to convince Truman – and the rest of the cabinet – that a Jewish state would endanger American security by angering the Arabs. That card, worn and tattered after sixty years, is still on the table. Forrestal also averred that a Jewish state – under Socialist-minded rule – would invariably fall into the Soviet-Communist orbit, further jeopardizing American interests in that region.

Further muddying the waters, the Soviet Union in early May 1948 (perhaps anticipating that the Jewish state would become a Soviet client) called for Jewish statehood and announced that it would recognize the Jewish state.

By Thursday, May 13, nothing had yet been decided, either in Israel or in the United States.

In Washington, Truman defied most of his cabinet and the political establishment and sent word to Marshall that if a state were declared, the United States would recognize it.

In Israel, Ben-Gurion, acting with vision, courage, and foresight, argued that if statehood were not declared immediately, history would not be forgiving, and the opportunity lost might not be regained for generations.

He submitted his motion to declare a Jewish state without defined borders to the Provisional Council. The motion not to specify borders carried 5-4; the motion to declare a state, on the following day, passed 6-4. One or two votes spelled all the difference.

After briefly considering the name “Zion,” the Council approved the name of the first Jewish state since the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash in 70 C.E. – Medinat Yisrael, the State of Israel.

* * *

At 4 p.m. that Friday, the 5th day of Iyar, with the British Mandate due to end at midnight, Ben-Gurion, out of respect for the sanctity of the approaching Shabbat, read the Proclamation of Independence. He declared to the world the establishment of a Jewish state, “by virtue of our national and intrinsic right.” Rabbi Maimon of Mizrachi recited the Shehechiyanu prayer.

Statehood went into effect at midnight in Israel – 6 p.m. Washington time. At 6:11 p.m. the United States extended de facto recognition to the Jewish state. The Soviet Union, several hours later, became the first nation to recognize Israel de jure.

In what Rav Yosef Soloveitchik termed one of the “six divine knocks” on the door of the people of Israel to herald His renewed, overt involvement in world affairs, both the United States and the Soviet Union agreed on the establishment of the Jewish state. They would agree on little else in the ensuing 50 years.

(Truman, at 36% in the polls in May, won reelection in November with barely 50% of the vote, defeating his main opponent, New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey.)

That same Friday, the last defenders of Kfar Etzion were taken captive. The provisional Government of Israel, in its first official act, abolished the British White Paper of 1939 that had cruelly barred the gates of Israel to European Jews during the Holocaust, and plans to evacuate Jewish displaced persons from European camps were immediately put into effect.

The British authorities and most soldiers sailed that night from Haifa harbor. Early on Shabbat morning, the Egyptian Air Force bombed Tel Aviv, the armies of seven Arab nations invaded Israel in an effort to carry out Azzam Pasha’s “war of extermination,” and the deadliest of Israel’s wars ensued.

When hostilities ended, approximately 6,000 Jews – 1% of the population – had fallen in battle, but Israel had successfully expanded its territorial holdings far beyond the boundaries of the 1947 Partition Plan that had been summarily rejected by the Arabs.

Israel’s sovereignty extended over the Galilee and the Negev all the way to Eilat, the coastal plain was expanded, and Jerusalem itself – the “New City” – came under Israeli jurisdiction.

As the notion of the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” had not yet entered the world’s legal or moral lexicon (that ingenious bit of hypocrisy would be concocted to torment Israel only after the Six-Dar War), no retreat to the 1947 borders was contemplated, and the battles ended in the signing of armistice agreements – but no peace treaty – between Israel and most of its adversaries.

In a factual sense, though, the war has never ceased, notwithstanding the variety of peace treaties signed with a number of parties whose commitment and stability are both questionable.

The “era of peace” signaled by those agreements has not yet permeated the Arab masses, and the hatred and intolerance of our enemies show no signs of relenting in the near future. In Israel, wishful thinking and indulgence of fantasies have substituted for sound policy judgment, reasoning, and execution. The three pillars of government are indecision, hesitation and paralysis.

But, in May 1948, for one moment in time, true and gifted leaders made decisions – without consulting pollsters or reading tea leaves and in defiance of some of their closest advisers.

They led, knowing that their choices would have adverse consequences, but with the confidence that the positives far outweighed the negatives.

They made decisions recognizing that war would follow, casualties would ensue, criticism was sure to follow, and political defeat might be their personal fate.

They understood that the good is not the enemy of the perfect, and that inertia is often fatal to both personal and national aspirations.

In our generation – orphaned of real leaders – one looks back longingly on Ben-Gurion’s determination and steely resolve, and Truman’s courage and political will, and marvels at how great leaders with a sense of history can, in fact, shape history and even transform it.

They were neither infallible nor beyond reproach; they were both flawed and biased people who made mistakes before, during and after the transpiring of these events. Yet we recognize that “the Omnipresent has many agents” and that “the heart of a king is like streams of water in the hands of God; wherever He wishes, He directs it” (Proverbs21:1).

Truman and Ben-Gurion stand out as historic figures who acted with daring and steadfastness, and together ushered in a new era in Jewish and world history.

The concerns of some of the opponents of statehood – Jews and non-Jews, religious and otherwise – were not illegitimate. War did come, but the yishuv was not destroyed and was able to repulse the invaders. Israel did not fall into the Soviet orbit – something that in a very short time would cause the Soviet Union to turn against Israel with a vengeance.

Rav Reuven Grozovsky, speaking for the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of Agudath Israel, pledged to participate in the governance of Israel, saying that abstention from Israeli politics would mean “relinquishing our basic rights.”

In retrospect, Ben-Gurion, forced to make an agonizing decision, was right, and Truman’s judgment was vindicated. Ben-Gurion knew that war was coming, but chose to fight it on his terms from a position of moral strength – a nation fighting for its independence and not relying on the kindness of strangers or the cult of victimization.

And when Israel’s chief rabbi, Yitzchak Herzog, visiting the White House in 1949, told Truman, “God put you in your mother’s womb so you would be the instrument to bring the rebirth of Israel after two thousand years,” the president burst into tears.

Israel’s founders had a profound knowledge of the Bible, and of the modern state’s place in Jewish history. The contrast to today’s Israel is striking, if not somewhat depressing.

One can only wonder how the Olmert government perceives the glorious struggle for independence and statehood, and how it explains away the jarring contrast of that generation’s decisiveness and accomplishments with its own inadequacies.

Those officials who have boasted about how “tired” the people of Israel are; who have carried out the destruction of Jewish homes and communities and the internal exile of thousands of Jews and are currently plotting future retreats and expulsions; who botched a war and squandered Jewish lives and treasure; who lack a coherent strategy to deal with looming threats and improvise (poorly, at that) in response to each of the enemies’ maneuvers; who have dissipated the justification for Israel’s existence by embracing the enemy’s narrative and conceding that the land of Israel is not inherently Jewish; who shamelessly cling to power through a combination of schemes, spoils and bribes – those officials must cringe at any comparison with even the flawed giants of Israel’s founding.

We look poignantly, even enviously, on that generation – on Truman, on Ben-Gurion, and also on Menachem Begin, who tenaciously spearheaded the underground that enervated the British and hastened their departure and Israel’s establishment.

The mediocrity of today’s leadership underscores the greatness of those who sixty years ago changed our world for the better.

But such greatness, we pray, lurks within our Jewish leaders of tomorrow. Israel’s 60th anniversary is most meaningful if we internalize the spirit of 1948 – the benevolence of our Creator, the justice of our cause, the magnitude of our choices, and the awesome responsibility thrust upon those who move Israel’s destiny forward.

Then, the majestic moment of the Jewish people’s reentry into the world of nations – as overseers and landlords of their own independent, sovereign country – will continue to inspire us to build the Israel of tomorrow, the homeland of all Jews and the foundation of God’s kingdom on earth.

Rabbi Steven Pruzansky is the spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun, of Teaneck, New Jersey, and the author of “A Prophet for Today: Contemporary Lessons from the Book of Yehoshua” (Gefen Books) and the forthcoming “Judges for our Time: Contemporary Lessons from the Book of Shoftim.”

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Ben-Gurion No Model
 
   Assemblyman Dov Hikind’s column on Ehud Olmert in last week’s Jewish Press quoted David Ben-Gurion saying “We chose a Jewish state without the entire land of Israel.” What was the Jewish character of the state chosen by Ben-Gurion? Ben-Gurion’s “Jewish” state took Yemenite children from their parents, cut off their payos, and raised them as secular Jews. Ben-Gurion’s “Jewish” state was state without Torah.
 
   Also, how was Ben-Gurion any better than Olmert with regard to dealing with the Arabs? In 1956, after Israel conquered the Sinai peninsula, Ben-Gurion caved in to American pressure and returned the entire Sinai, thus setting the stage for later confrontations. In 1967, Ben-Gurion, retired but still influential, opposed the preemptive strike that enabled Israel to win such an overwhelming victory in the Six-Day War.
 
   Mr. Hikind ought to know better than to hold up Ben-Gurion as a model for true Jewish behavior.
 

Jay Grossman

Spring Valley, NY
 

 

Time For Action

 

   Dr. Phyllis Chesler’s “Manifesto for Survival” (op-ed, Dec. 15) needs to be understood and acted on pronto. A first course of action would be for each of us to contact every political official and demand that our government issue a non-negotiable ultimatum to the Arab states that are identified beyond any doubt as a declared and dedicated enemy seeking our destruction.
 
   The ultimatum would clearly state that we take their threats seriously and that those threats constitute an act of war. The only civilized, moral consideration we will extend these governments as an opportunity to protect their civilian populations will be this one-time offer to cease and desist further aggressive threats, publicly sign a non-aggression pact and cease the development and production of nuclear and chemical weapons. Failure to respond to this offer will render those governments responsible for all the terrible consequences we will bring upon them.
 
   In the name of sanity, we must do it.
 

Norman Shine

Brooklyn, NY
 

 

Trivializing Observance?
 
   Rabbi Mordechai Weiss (“Diversity: The Uniqueness of Our People,” op-ed, Dec. 15) correctly points out that it is unwise to judge people based on external criteria. Each person has something to contribute to society. However, I disagree with what I view as his attempted trivialization of the guidelines and principles essential for authentic Torah observance.
 
   In support of permissiveness, he cites the talmudic maxim koach d’heterah adif, which actually pertains to talmudic discussions; in particular, in the event one disputant has a mesora from his rebbe (a tradition from his mentor that a particular approach has its origins in the revelation at Sinai.) In that case, such an authority can argue by virtue of such knowledge in favor of a more liberal position. (This option is for the tannaim, the rabbis of the Mishna.)
 
   One classic case involves Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel in Masechta Beitza 2. This might surprise Rabbi Weiss: The liberal position does not prevail. (Also see Chullin 58)
 
   It is ironic that many of the most popular practices in Judaism stem from chumras. Without getting too technical, I’ll cite one timely example: Kindling the lights of the Chanukah menorah. The universal practice involves a mehadrin min hamehadrin ceremony, which is a super-orthodox lighting extravaganza. Every night an extra candle is lit to commemorate the triumph of freedom to believe in God and to proclaim that the Word of the Lord is from Zion and Jerusalem, and that this Torah will never be exchanged for any new man-made doctrine.
 

Chaim Silver

(Via E-Mail)
 

 

We Stand Corrected
 
   The tagline for writer Irwin Cohen (“The World Series That Wasn’t: Post-Season Musings of a Veteran Baseball Scribe,” op-ed, Dec. 1) describes Mr. Cohen as the only Orthodox Jew to have earned a World Series ring from a front office position. In fact, Joel Mael, an Orthodox Jew from Lawrence, Long Island, is the vice-chairman of the Florida Marlins. He held his current position in 2003 when the Marlins beat the Yankees in the World Series and he received a World Series ring at that time. Kindly correct this oversight.
 

Rhonda Younger

Brooklyn, NY

 


 

 

 

Neturei Karta Breaks Bread
With Holocaust Deniers
 

In Their Element

 

      I commend The Jewish Press for publishing the front-page photograph of Neturei Karta members being greeted by the president of Iran at that conference in Tehran. I hope those letter-writers who recently defended Neturei Karta now realize that the group’s agenda has gone way beyond anti-Zionism and has become plain old-fashioned anti-Semitism.
 
      By actively participating in a conference that questioned whether or not the Holocaust took place, Neturei Karta members hung their hats together with the likes of Iran’s Ahmadinejad and the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Those gentlemen are not just anti-Zionist, they are anti-Semitic.
 
      As a firm believer in the concept of midah k’neged midah - a person is punished in a manner similar to the sin he committed – I can only imagine what Hashem has in store for Neturei Karta members who associate with those who wish to wipe the Jews off the face of the earth.
 

Barry J. Koppel

Kew Gardens Hills, NY
 

 

Enough Is Enough

 

      Although initially outraged and disgusted by the picture of Neturei Karta representatives being greeted by the Iranian president at the Holocaust deniers meeting, I applaud The Jewish Press for putting it on the front page. We constantly prod moderate Muslim groups to speak out against their extremists, yet we allow these evil people dressed up as chassidic Jews to repeatedly disgrace our religion without vociferous protest from the rabbinic and lay leaders of our community.
 
      The vicious anti-Israel behavior we have witnessed in the past from this group has been swept under the rug as political – i.e., anti-government or anti-Zionist – but enough is enough. They’ve now become Holocaust deniers. If they can’t listen to reason here, there are six million souls waiting to set the record straight for them.
 

Dr. Marvin Brody

(Via E-Mail)

 

No Shame

 

      How low can they go? Have they lost all sense of shame? Those photos of Neturei Karta operatives openly consorting with notorious Holocaust deniers and arch anti-Semites in Tehran were absolutely sickening. They were “honored” with front row seats by their new associates, led by the proto-Hitler, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who denies past genocide against the Jews while eagerly anticipating a future one.
 
      While Neturei Karta is entitled to its odious opinions concerning the legitimacy of the State of Israel, such a gross display of chillul Hashem crossed all remaining red lines. What these so-called rabbis lack in ahavas Yisrael is more than made up for by their sinas chinam.
 

Richard D. Wilkins

(Via E-Mail)

 

No Laughing Matter

 

      Just look at those costumes! You have three clowns dressed up like Orthodox Jews shaking hands with a beast masquerading as a human being, while two other similarly costumed beasts approvingly look on.
 
      I’m being facetious, but the reality is that this is no laughing matter. This goes deeper than Neturei Karta’s mere rejection of the State of Israel, as wrong-headed as that may be. (And how difficult is it to understand that Israel exists to this day only because God wishes it to exist and has foiled all efforts to destroy it over the past 58 years? To reject His great miracle is to deny His very existence). These lunatics are actively legitimizing haters of Jews by their presence at this so-called “scholarly conference” and by their claims to represent religious Jewry.
 
      Does Neturei Karta “Rabbi” Yisroel Duvid Weiss actually think that fellow conference-attendee David Duke would not gladly toss him into a fiery oven if he could? Believing that a Nazi or a Muslim jihadi would spare him because he is not a Zionist Jew is as foolishly naive as the belief of liberal “Jews of the Mosaic persuasion” in Holocaust-era Germany that the Nazis would spare them because they were not like those odd-looking religious Jews.
 
      We should keep the so-called rabbis of Neturei Karta in mind when we recite the verse in the Amidah calling on God to punish informers, heretics and other such arrogant sonnei Hashem and sonnei Yisrael.
 

Paul Deckelman

Far Rockaway, NY
 

 

See No Evil

 

      I must express my dismay over the front-page photo in last week’s Jewish Press. Publishing that picture gives publicity to an insignificant group that represents nobody but themselves and that has been condemned by all segments of Jewry. I feel your paper owes an apology to its readers. Please don’t even mention these traitors to our people any more – they are not worthy of it.
 

Shlomo Philipson

Monsey, NY
 

 

New Depths

 

      I thought Neturei Karta could not reach new levels of chillul Hashem, but they’ve raised (or rather lowered) the bar again. Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial gathering in Tehran drew some of world’s leading Holocaust deniers – and right there, present in the front row, were members of Neturei Karta.
 
      Apparently, this conference, which had been denounced by such friends of the Jews as Germany, England, France, the EU and the Vatican, is just fine for Neturei Karta.
 

Zachary Gorden

Brooklyn, NY
 

 

Al Tehi Tikvah

 

      Concerning those Neturei Karta representatives who met with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Holocaust deniers conference I can only say: Caesar had his Brutus, America had its Benedict Arnold, and we Jews have our traitors, too.
 
      Denying the legitimacy of the government of Israel is one thing. Expressing that view by legitimizing the potential murderer of millions of Jews and by tacitly denying the Holocaust is quite another. Let me suggest that while waiting for Mashiach to come and redeem us, Neturei Karta settle in Iran where I’m sure they’ll be warmly hosted by their friend Ahmadinejad.
 
      “And to slanderers let there be no hope.”
 

Henry Adler

(Via E-Mail)

Title: Real Jews; Secular Versus Ultra-Orthodox And The Struggle For Jewish Identity In Israel

Saturday, July 26th, 2003

Title: Real Jews; Secular Versus Ultra-Orthodox And The Struggle For Jewish Identity In Israel
Author: Prof. Noah Efron
(Bar-Ilan University)
Publisher: Basic Books, New York, NY


There may be some who would wish this book, and this subject matter, to not be discussed at all; to shove it back into some secret corner whence it came. “Don’t air dirty linen in public!”

But it has been done – published by one of America’s largest publishers, and it will be found in many Judaica bookshops, as well as in Barnes & Noble, Borders, and the leading independent bookshops.

Prof. Efron, whose own feelings remain quite professionally hidden even at the conclusion, aptly describes the struggle for the hearts and minds of young Israelis. Even before the secular Israeli public learned to demonize Palestinians, they learned to demonize charedim. In America, anyone characterizing a Jew with a long nose and payos in a derogatory cartoon would be called an anti-Semite, but in Israel, it has come to Jew against Jew.

When Israel’s government was first established, then-Prime Minister David Ben Gurion made what secular Israelis term, “A pact with the devil.” To obtain a working majority in the Knesset, Ben Gurion gained the votes of charedi parties in return for certain objectives, including exemptions from universal military service for young studying in Yeshiva.

The so-called “Ultra-Orthodox” reside in communities segregated from secular Jews and rarely interact with them. Although consisting of over 10% of the total Israel population, Yeshiva students are exempt from military service - while secular youth serve for many years. The charedi community also enjoys political (and economic) power way out of proportion to their actual numbers. A quite high percentage benefits from various forms of governmental largesse.

To the contrary, modern Israeli history venerates those secular individuals such as Ben Gurion, Golda Meir, and Moshe Dayan whose efforts built the nation in the first place and defended it during its formative years. It was Ben Gurion himself who declared that we would finally know Israel as an independent nation, when we would have our own burglars and criminals in Tel Aviv.

There is a reason why some cities built beyond the Green Line, such as Kiryat Sefer and Betar, are chareidi. The population in chareidi communities such as Meah Shearim and Bnei Brak have expanded almost to the point of explosion. Housing costs are disproportionate to the family incomes of the residents of these neighborhoods. Thus, real estate developers acquire relatively inexpensive lands from the government – especially when there is a policy to populate some given area – and build entire cities catering to charedim.

Secular Israelis also take issue with the kosher food ‘tax,’ in the form of extra cost to everyone due to the expense of kashruth supervision, which could raise food prices by as much as 4%. In places like America, where kosher-observant Jews may be a quite small percentage of the buyers of the products, the cost is evened-out by the many thousands of others, such as Moslems and Seventh Day Adventists who also rely on our kashruth supervision for their own dietary requirements. In Israel, where the costs are government-mandated, they are resented by the secular.

Here in America we Jews are concerned whenever a criminal’s Jewishness is reported in the media. In Israel a special case is made whenever it is a charedi who is charged with a crime, even if his religiosity is irrelevant to the case. Efron’s thesis is that because of social pressures, including those of kiruv work of charedim among the secular, secular Israelis are demonizing charedim. To quote: “Each new “conversion” (a secular Israeli becoming observant) is an assertion that we have failed. If we are who we think we are, why are our children leaving?”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/title-real-jews-secular-versus-ultra-orthodox-and-the-struggle-for-jewish-identity-in-israel/2003/07/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: