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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
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Why These Negotiations Will Always Fail

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Peace in the Middle East between Israel and its neighbors—including the Palestinians—is generally described as “elusive.” Why have forty years of active efforts not led to permanent peace in the region? Why 20 years after Oslo is there no great sign that peace stands ready to break out between the Palestinians and Israelis? The simple answer is that parties are negotiating on different planes that can never intersect.

Let’s analyze the ostensible goals of the parties to the current round of talks. The Israelis want peace and one can see why: lower regional threats, less military spending, greater regional cooperation, increased tourism revenue, export of Israeli technology, increased trade with Europe and more. What do the Palestinians get in the peace deal? They get less than half of the land they believe they deserve. They can look forward to a million or more Arab “refugees” showing up, expecting housing, food, work, and schools. They will be saddled with building an economy without natural resources or a strong technical ethos, while international donations will dry up (especially from Muslim countries, for the sin of recognizing a Jewish state). In short, the Israelis have much to gain from peace, while the Palestinian leaders who are running their side of the talks have much to lose.

Additionally, Israelis negotiate like Americans and Europeans: they try to cut a deal, but if it does not work, then they fall back to the present conditions. The Palestinians work in a different way: either they get what they want, or they pull out the terror card. Lawyers who reviewed signed confessions of Marwan Barghouti’s lieutenants found a singular pattern: if negotiations in the Arafat period were going well, then Tanzim and the like were told to lay low. If the Israelis were intransigent—on borders, refugees, or the like—then the order was given to attack. Negotiations cannot proceed when one side is willing to take a much greater liberty than the other side is willing to entertain. Picture if one football team had to respect the out-of-bound lines, while the other did not. The Israelis might walk away from talks, but they would not order the murder of Palestinian citizens, leftist propaganda aside. The Palestinians, on the other hand, are more than comfortable using attacks on Israeli citizens as a means to get what they want at the negotiating table—and this is a point that Americans and Europeans diplomats have never understood. They are convinced that everyone thinks like they do: peace is always good, and the rules of negotiations exclude violence between sides.

The reason for this failed understanding is cultural. Let’s look back at the Nazis, some of the greatest murderers ever. One notes that no German soldier was ever commanded to either kill or injure himself in order to gas, shoot, blow up, torch or otherwise kill a Jew. The Nazis were sadists and invented horrific ways to kill Jewish men, women and children; still, they would not have considered personal bodily harm or worse as being required to kill a Jew. The Palestinians, on the other hand, not only are active practitioners of suicide bombings, but polls still show that their citizenry supports such activities. We of a Western mind-frame find it impossible to consider such an act—whom do we hate so much that we would be willing to undertake such horrific activity? Are there any children or aged citizens of any country that we would hope to obliterate with flying shrapnel so as to somehow exact revenge on somebody else who has some tenuous relationship to the ones blown up? I have asked these questions to student groups visiting from the US; no one can answer in the affirmative.
This week marked another gratuitous prisoner release by Israel in the ersatz peace process.

These releases have generally been categorized as “confidence building measures.” Is there anyone who could define or identify any confidence built by releasing 26 murderers? The Palestinians partied with the released convicts and demanded the release of all Palestinian prisoners; Israelis felt anguish at the release and saw protests and complaints against the release of more murderers. What confidence was built by this act? None. The prisoner release is a bribe to the Palestinian leaders to continue with the worthless process of peace-making, so that they can show their base that they are getting something from the talks. The terrorists are free, the Palestinians only want more, and the Israeli leadership is put in the uncomfortable position of explaining why murderers walk free, with nothing to show for it. The Palestinians get their terrorists back, but the act has no tangible effect on the direction, good will or pace of the negotiations.

The current peace talks will enjoy the same fate as their predecessors; and ditto for any future talks. The talks will break down because even the most left-wing Israeli politician is not yet ready to commit national suicide to accommodate the minimal Palestinian demands on dividing Jerusalem, accepting indefensible borders, and welcoming anything more than some token refugees. The Palestinians will blame the Israelis, as will most of the international community. Israel will point the finger at an intransigent Palestinian Authority, and we’ll wait for the whole process to start again sometime in the future.

I would argue that the above analysis is pragmatic and not in the least pessimistic. The Palestinians have too much to lose by making peace and also play by rules not understood or appreciated by the likes of John Kerry or Catherine Ashton. The simple fact is that the Palestinian Authority today enjoys large contributions from international donors and avoids all responsibility for building a functional society designed to absorb four generations of self-made Palestinian “refugees” living in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and the like. Israel looks forward to a rosier future, one that would include peace; the Palestinian cannot see getting a better deal than they have in the present. And for that, negotiations will—again—go nowhere, however much John Kerry and his Israeli partners try to tell us otherwise.

Defense Minister Ya’alon: Assad Has Lost Control

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Against the background of the gas attack in Syria and the reports about hundreds of victims, perhaps more than a thousand, Israeli Defense Minister and former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon said on Wednesday that “the Syrian regime has lost control over the country, is present only in about 40 percent of its territory and is finding it difficult to subdue to opposition forces.”

Speaking at a ceremony welcoming the new Jewish year at the defense ministry compound in downtown Tel Aviv, Ya’alon said that “for some time now this has not been an internal Syrian conflict. We decided not to intervene in this conflict, but we drew red lines to make sure our interests are not harmed.

The defense minister expressed skepticism about the ending of the war in Syria. “We don’t envision the end of this situation, since even the toppling of Assad won’t bring about a conclusion. There are many open, bloody accounts yet to be settled by the various elements.”

“It’s a conflict that has turned global, with one axis receiving support from Russia and the other bein helped by the U.S. and Europe. Lebanon is connected to the massive Iranian support and therefore the war has been dripping into its territory as well. Inside Lebanon there are focal points of confrontation as well. But, generally speaking, the borders are peaceful and we are watching to make sure the cannons are not trained on us,” Ya’alon said.

According to rebel sources in Syria, the number of dead as a result of the chemical gas attack on a suburb of Damascus has topped 1,300, including women and children. The rebels are claiming this was a massacre of innocent civilians, who were hurt by poison gas in the area of the Guta camp, a rebel held spot outside Damascus.

A Syrian government spokesperson has said in response that those claims are unfounded, and are intended to sabotage the work of the UN inspectors who have just arrived in Syria to investigate earlier reports of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian army.

Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, head of the 20-member inspection team, told news agency TT that he finds the reports of such a high number of casualties suspicious.

“It sounds like something that should be looked into,” he told TT over the phone from Damascus. “It will depend on whether any UN member state goes to the secretary general and says we should look at this event. We are in place.”

Minister Ya’alon referred to situation in Egypt as well, saying there has been relative quiet on the Israeli border with Egypt, but noted that extremist elements like the World Jihad will attempt to destabilize the border.

He warned against the recent developments in the Sinai, such as the execution by Islamist terrorists of 25 Egyptian policemen, spilling over into Israel.

“Over the past week, the Sinai border has been the hottest, and it obliges us to realign for it.”

America’s Problems in the Middle East are Just Beginning

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

It’s 2015, and there is a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood (Hamas), financed by Iran, wins an election on a platform demanding the expulsion of the Jews from Israel. Iran meanwhile smuggles shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles to terrorist cells in Palestine that can take down civilian airlines at Ben-Gurion airport. With backing from the Egyptian military, Fatah throws out the elected Hamas government and kills larger number of Hamas supporters. What will Washington do? Given the track record of both the Obama administration and the Republican mainstream, one would expect America to denounce the use of violence against a democratically-elected government.

Such is the absurdity of both parties’ stance towards Egypt: the Egyptian military is doing America’s dirty work, suppressing a virulently anti-modern, anti-Semitic and anti-Western Islamist movement whose leader, Mohammed Morsi, famously referred to Israelis as “apes and pigs.” It did so with the enthusiastic support of tens of millions of Egyptians who rallied in the streets in support of the military. And the American mainstream reacted with an ideological knee jerk. America’s presence in the Middle East has imploded.

As it happens, Iran already is smuggling weapons via Syria to the West Bank to gain leverage against the Abbas government, as Stratfor reports (hat tip: the Daily Alert ), including surface-to-air and anti-tank missiles. Hamas crushed Fatah in the 2006 West Bank elections parliamentary elections 74-45, and made short work of the supposedly moderate Palestinian faction when it seized power in Gaza in 2007. As Syria disintegrates, along with Iraq and Lebanon, the artificial borders of Arab states drawn first by Ottoman conquerors and revised by British and French colonial authorities will have small meaning. Palestinians caught up in the Syrian and and Lebanese conflagrations would pour into a new Palestinian state and swell the ranks of the hard-core Jihadi irredentists. Iran will continue to use Hamas as a cat’s paw.

Among other things, the American response to the events in Egypt show the utter pointlessness of American security guarantees in the present negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Authority. Even in the extremely unlikely event that Mohammed Abbas chose to make peace with Israel, he would face a high probability of civil war, just as Ireland’s independence leader Michael Collins did when he struck a deal with the British for an Irish “Free State” rather than a republic. Collins killed more Irishmen than the British did in the preceding independence struggle. I do not want to compare Abbas to Collins, and I do not think he has any attention of making peace with Israel. But American blundering in Egypt has closed out the option, for whoever makes peace with Israel will require a free hand with Iranian-backed rejectionists.

America forgets that it corrected the flaw in its founding by killing 30 percent of Southern men of military age during its own Civil War, so many that the Confederate Army collapsed for lack of manpower. There are numerous wars which do not end until all the young men who want to fight to the death have had the opportunity to do so. And of all of history’s conflicts, none was so likely to end with this sort of demographic attrition as the present war in the Middle East. Compared to the young Arabs, Persians and Pakistanis of today, American Southerners of 1861 were models of middle-class rectitude, with the world’s highest living standards and bright prospects for the future. The Europeans of 1914 stood at the cusp of modernity; one only can imagine what they might have accomplished had they not committed mutual suicide in two World Wars.

Today’s Middle Eastern and South Asian Muslims have grim future prospects. The world economy has left them behind, and they cannot catch up. Egypt was at the threshold of starvation and economic collapse when the military intervened, bringing in subsidies from the Gulf monarchies. The young men of the Middle East have less to lose, perhaps, than any generation in any country in modern times. As we observe in Syria, large numbers of them will fight to the death.

America cannot bear to think about its own Civil War because the wounds are too painful; in order to reunite the country after 1865, we concocted a myth of tragic fratricide. Wilsonian idealism was born of the South’s attempt to suppress its guilt for the war, I have argued in the past. That is an academic consideration now. America’s credibility in the Middle East, thanks to the delusions of both parties, is broken, and it cannot be repaired within the time frame required to forestall the next stage of violence. Egypt’s military and its Saudi backers are aghast at American stupidity. Israel is frustrated by America’s inability to understand that Egypt’s military is committed to upholding the peace treaty with Israel while the Muslim Brotherhood wants war. Both Israel and the Gulf States observe the utter fecklessness of Washington’s efforts to contain Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

The events of the past week have demonstrated that America’s allies in the Middle East from Israel to the Persian Gulf can trust no-one in Washington-neither Barack Obama nor John McCain. Those of us in America who try to analyze events in the region will be the last to hear the news, and the value of our work will diminish over time.

Behind the News in Israel.

Trading In Maryland for the Mediterranean

Monday, August 19th, 2013

When Sergeant Brandon Berry made aliyah (immigrated to Israel), he did not come looking for the easy life. If he wanted that, he would not have left his hometown of Potomac, Maryland to serve in the army of a foreign country half a world away from his family.

Sgt. Berry also was not looking for an easy job in the IDF – he wanted to serve wherever he was most needed. He wanted to take his talent and drive with him to contribute one hundred percent.

Sgt. Berry passed all the tests to serve in the prestigious Paratroopers Brigade. Instead the American immigrant took to the sea as a member of the Israel Navy’s Dvora-class patrol boat squadron.

It is not everyday that a young man from Potomac, Maryland travels for tens of thousands of miles to join the Israel Navy. “It was clear to me that I was destined to serve in the Navy,” he said. Sgt. Berry, stationed on a base overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, is able to indulge his love for wide-open spaces every day of his service.

Aside from his thick American accent, Sgt. Berry is indistinguishable from the other soldiers at his base – completely at home on a boat with a tan to match. He credits the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers for helping him through the entire enlistment process.

“The work the association does is a blessing,” he says. AWIS helps soldiers in a number of ways, which included providing assistance to lone soldiers, running soldier homes and recreation centers, and providing support for bereaved families.

Sgt. Berry says that even though he grew up with a strong Jewish identity and attended a Jewish day school, he always felt like something was missing. Now, as a soldier for Israel, it seems he has truly come home.

Visit IDF Blog.

Radical, Democratic Changes to Egypt’s Constitution, MBs Out

Monday, August 19th, 2013

The technical committee has been assigned the task of “amending” Egypt’s 2012 Muslim-Brothers inspired constitution is almost finished, Al Ahram reported. The committee is headed by Interim President Adly Mansour’s legal advisor, Ali Awad.

In a press conference Sunday, Awad told the press that the committee will finish its work Monday, and the new draft constitution will be announced Wednesday. Al Ahram quotes the basic instruction given the authors of the new document: “Fundamental changes must be introduced to 2012 Islamist-backed constitution.”

By fundamental, they mean no Muslim Brothers in politics, ever again.

“The 2012 constitution was drafted under the former regime of the Muslim Brotherhood to grant Islamists an upper hand and a final say in Egypt’s political future, and this must be changed now,” Ahram quotes a committee source. “When the people revolted 30 June, their main goals were not confined to removing Mohamed Morsi from power, but also changing the fundamental pillars of the religious tyranny the Muslim Brotherhood regime tried its best to impose on Egypt.”

The source revealed that the new constitution must impose a ban on political parties based on religious foundations.

The source explained that “the anticipated ban gained momentum after the committee received requests and proposals from more than 400 political, economic and social institutions, pressing hard for the necessity of safeguarding Egypt against Islamist factions trying to change the civil nature of the country into a religious oligarchy.”

Except that – surprise, surprise, despite the anti-Brotherhood sentiment common to the new masters of Egypt, the source says the new constitution “will keep Article 2 of 2012′s Islamist-backed constitution — which states that Islamic Sharia is the main source of legislation — in place.”

This, according to committee chairman Ali Awad, is done “in order to stress the Islamic identity of Egypt.”

According to the source, most political institutions have recommended that “if it is necessary to keep the Islamic Sharia article in place as a nod to Islamists like El-Nour, it is by no means necessary to maintain the 2012 constitution’s separate article (Article 219) that delivers an interpretation of Islamic Sharia.”

Article 219 of the 2012 constitution states: “The principles of Islamic Sharia include its generally-accepted interpretations, its fundamental and jurisprudential rules, and its widely considered sources as stated by the schools of Sunna and Gamaa.”

Not any more. They’re also going to scrap the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament, that was created in 1980 by late President Anwar El-Sadat to befriend his Islamist foes. They shot him anyway. The MB exploited its majority in the council in 2012 to “Brotherhoodise national press institutions and the state-owned Radio and Television Union (known as Maspero) and gain legislative powers to Islamise society.”

Sources are saying there will be radical changes of articles aimed at regulating the performance of the High Constitutional Court and media institutions. “We aim to reinforce the independence of these institutions and not to face any more intimidation by ruling regimes,” the source said. He also indicated that, “The electoral system is also expected to see a complete overhaul in order not to cause any discrimination against independents or come in favor of party-based candidates.”

And another noteworthy change: Article 232 of the 2012 constitution, imposing a ban on leading officials of Mubarak’s defunct ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), will be annulled.

So, it appears the Egyptians are quite capable of taking care of their legal affairs without nasty interventions from their patron wannabes in Washington. Perhaps it would be best for the U.S. to shut up for a couple of weeks and not meddle?

Vatican: Papal Visit to Show IDF ‘Imprisoning’ Christian Population

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Fr. Peter Vasko, President of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land (FFHL), heralded Pope Francis’ announcement that he may visit the Holy Land next year as an opportunity for the “whole world to see the plight of Christians in the area.

Vasko said the pontiff’s presence would also “shine a light on the dwindling Christian population in the Holy Land, and hopefully help ease living conditions in the area.” Christians, once a majority in the area, have diminished to less than two percent of the population as restrictions on travel, education and work have increased.

In Palestinian controlled areas, including Bethlehem, what remains of the Arab Christians population are virtual prisoners in their own homes. At the same time, Israeli controlled areas are the only places in the entire Middle East where the Christian population has been rising.

Pope Francis said the visit – his first as head of the Church – would mark the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s trip to Jerusalem in 1964. The announcement came on the heels of Israeli President Shimon Peres’ recent visit to the Vatican. During that visit, Peres urged the pope to come to Israel, adding, “The sooner you visit the better, as a new opportunity is being created for peace, and your arrival could contribute significantly to increasing the trust and belief in peace.”

Peres added, “I turn to you and ask that within your sermons in front of millions of believers in the world you include the hope for peace in the Middle East and the whole world.”

Vasko said the Vatican has long supported FFHL programs, which provide education, housing and work opportunities for thousands of Palestinian Christians. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI visited Israel during their tenures.

Pope Francis accepted Peres’ invitation, but no date has been set for the trip.

Jewish ‘Leading Mayoral Candidate’ Needs your Help to Get on Ballot

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

The following is an email sent by NYC mayoral candidate  Ceceilia Berkowitz sent last night to her (handful of) supporters, pleading for help in the remaining days left to get on the ballot for an independent run for mayor:

Hi Friends, Colleagues, Neighbors, Friends, and Citizens,

As a leading 2013 Mayoral Candidate in New York City, I wanted to share with each of you the Youtube.com video of a Mayoral Forum I attended at Columbia University’s Teachers College in New York City on June 30th.



I wanted to show my commitment to the Arts & Culture, my strong and sophisticated and well-educated political views, and how important it is for New York City and its stakeholders (each one of you) for me to get on the ballot for our November election.

The only requirement to be on the ballot is to obtain 3,750 signatures via a signature drive. Some of you have seen in the news that Elliot Spitzer did a last minute signature drive. This costs anywhere between $20,000 and $500,000 if professionally done.

It can also be done with volunteers. At St. Peter’s University today, I met with Former Mayor of Bayonne Joseph Doria, who said he knew my father Dr. Berkowitz, from his business in Bayonne. He advised me to gather over 100 signature gatherers for shifts between now and August 12th, in order to secure our position on the ballot. We also need volunteers who can assist us with recruiting more petitioners, and others who are interested in this management and leadership building activity.

It is truly a privilege to have such a dedicated, talented, and sophisticated list of friends and contacts. I hope some of you can assist us with this, whether you are part of churches, synagogues, clubs, associations, universities, or other organizations in the NYC Metro area and beyond.

Would you be able to help me out with the signature drive, just to get the 3, 750 signatures to get on the ballot? If so, I copied my political strategy firm, Nino at Savi Political Consulting who flew in from Washington, DC to help me with this election.

I have had reoccurring severely sprained ankles from a previous injury at work in late 2010, so I cannot get all the required signatures on foot myself. In addition, I was robbed by my first fundraising firm, Apa Firm and Anastasia Apa, which the NYPD police told me was considered larceny, so I could not raise enough money afterwords.

Due to City Hall scheduling processes at 100 Gold St., I could not yet get an appointment yet from my good friend for almost two years, Mayor Bloomberg, to potentially borrow or receive enough funding for a signature drive. My credit also was stolen at work in 2006 and this identity theft was already proven in court with an affidavit -I hired some credit repair firms in Staten Island, and it will take one year to fix.

So since I have been a victim of theft and robbery, perhaps I could ask you all to assist me with a signature drive? I can perhaps give you all some compensation in pay expenses / prizes.

I think it would be great for NYC to have a younger, up and coming mayor, as they do in other cities and in Jersey City.

I just met at St. Peter’s Univ., where I taught MBA Finance this summer Mayor Doria of Bayonne and Dean of Education / former Director of HR, and he suggested to ask community groups to assist.

I also took on and hired (for pay in the future, assuming it is possible), Laurens Hunt, who is a long time member of your club and Now NYC, and who is vested in Hudson County Jersey City government with over 10 years of work experience and a graduate degree.

So we have a good and up and coming team, and NYC may need us this November if we can get on the ballot.

I am asking each of you to help do your part to email me and let me know how you can assist with recruiting signature gatherers. If you are too busy to help, perhaps you can donate $10 online to our political campaign, which will enable us to pay for commuting expenses for our volunteers who may have to work long shifts in the next week.

Also, if any of you is interested in cosigning a loan, and I can negotiate the terms and why it is good for you, please contact me.

 

Right now, we are most looking for team building activities with people of good leadership skills, interns and volunteers to help with signature gathering, and finance interns and employees who want to fundraise for some pay.”

Will Observant Judaism of the Future Look Like Satmar?

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

A friend of mine (by way of the internet – I never met him personally) once told me never to predict the future based on linear projections. That was a very wise observation.

One of the things that many people seem to believe is that the exponential rate of growth of the Charedi community is so vastly greater than the growth of any other segment – that ultimately the future will be theirs. Meaning that the rest of Orthodoxy will either be absorbed by them, or will become so small in comparison that it will become either irrelevant, or extinct altogether.

I am one of those people. The Charedim have won. By their growth and sheer determination they are the wave of the future. But I have a modified version of that prediction. Moderate Charedim will populate the the new mainstream majority. It will also contain those I have called RWMO (right wing Modern Orthodox). And evolve into a sociological demographic I call the New Centrists. Rabbi Berel Wein was first made note of this phenomenon. And it is already in progress.

In brief  what is happening is that both communities have adopted modalities of the other. So that even if our Hashkafos are somewhat different, our lifestyles are not. Moderate Charedim and RWMO are both generally are well educated in Limudei Kodesh and Limudei Chol. Both generally have solid careers where many are professionals.

We are both Koveiah Itim (establish fixed times for Torah study); Daven in the same Shuls; send our children to similar – and occasionally the same schools; are very often good friends, trust each other’s Kashrus; and our families  interact socially each other. It is not that uncommon to find a Chavrusa  beween a moderate Charedi and a RWMO learning together at night in a community Kollel. Our differing Hashkafos are not a divisive issue socially. The extremes on both the right and left may continue to exist, but in my view will at best be marginalized.

Nothing new here.  I have mentioned all this before. Many times. But what I have not mentioned in this context is another demographic that is perhaps the fastest growing demographic of all. One that has absolutely nothing to do with the above phenomenon.  The exponential growth of Satmar and like minded Chasidim. Does that mean that I believe that Satmar is the wave of the future… that eventually they will overtake the rest of Orthodoxy by their sheer population size?  Based on linear projections, one might say that will indeed happen. But I don’t think so, despite their continuing and phenomenally rapid growth.

Currently Satmar Chasidim live in their own world and prefer to keep it that way. The same is true of other Chasidic sects like Skvere.  They will not ‘assimilate’ into any new grouping.  Their values are not the same as the New Centrists at all. They live in a world apart from the rest of observant Jewry.

They are not well educated in Limudei Chol. And although they do work, they generally do not work as professionals. They do not attend colleges and universities. They work at jobs that often do not pay a living wage. Certainly not for a family of 12 or 13 is which is a very common family size. So a great many of them live in poverty…. isolated from the rest of the world.

While it is true that there are some very wealthy Satmar type Chasidim in trades like the diamond industry, construction, and other businesses (like the wildly successful B&H) – they are the exception and not the rule.  Most Satmar Chasidim barely eke out a living and more often than not have to be aided by free loan societies.

There is an article in the Forward by a Frimet Goldberger. She was raised in the world of Satmar. Ms. Goldberger describes  Satmar Chasidim as not only living isolated lives, but as living very religiously demanding lives. More than any other religious demographic. Lives that are stricter now than at any time in the history of Satmar. They have taken upon themselves Chumros that that did not even exist during the life of their founding Rebbe, Rav Yoel Teitelbaum. And he was pretty Machmir  requiring the rejection of the outside world in its totality.

His purpose was to insulate his Chasidim form the slightest taint of non Jewish culture.  His method was to not only live in a tightly knit neighborhood  - but to be as different from the rest of the world as possible. That would make it virtually impossible to see any commonlaity and thereby assimilate.  That – combined with their extreme Tznius measures makes them culturally incompatible with -  not only the secular world, but even   the moderate Charedi world. Not to mention the Modern Orthodox world.

Here is how Ms. Goldbeger describes it:

(The Satmar Rebbe) had railed against married women growing their hair underneath the turbans and wigs. After his death, most Hasidic women finally adhered to this rule – many out of fear of the severe ramifications of defiance. It is now the acceptable practice in Satmar to expel children from school if their mothers do not shave their heads. The Satmar Rebbe also decried the thin stockings and uncovered sheitels worn in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. Now, most Satmar women wear thick, seamed stockings.

The latest Chumra is the blurring out faces of little girls in their photos. Which did not exist when the Satmar Rebbe was alive. She calls such radicalization alarming and not to be ignored.

In my view, all of these factors are the reason that we should not project a victory for the Satmar way of life. This lifestyle is not the wave of the future. Despite their rapid exponential growth. Insuring the isolation that has kept this demographic together and intact, is no longer possible. The internet has just about assured that. Especially now that one can access it in the palm of one hand.  Bans of technological advances like I-phones no matter how harsh the consequences simply are probably honored more in the breach than in adherence.

I am not saying that young people will drop out in significant numbers. Although going OTD  is a growing problem for them like it is for every other religious demographic. But I do think that they will gradually see what the rest of the even Frum world has to offer and many will seek it out. The poverty and strictures particular to this community will accelerate that process. They will see that it is possible to be religious and not be as isolated as they have been in the past. Modernity will catch up to them. Their increasing poverty that their current lifestyle practically guarantees them will motivate many of them to try another way.

They will see a growing new Centrism and realize that there other legitimate ways to practice Judaism. I am not saying that they will all eventually become new Centrists. Although not likley – it is not out of the realm of possibility once they start seeking to better their lives materially. More likely is a scenario to create their own version of a centrist society – rebelling against that part of their culture that keeps them poor – by seeking a better education and pulling back a bit on their radically different appearances… like the insistence that all their married women must save their heads.

I can’t predict the future. But what I think I can predict is that this demographic is not the wave of the future as they are currently constructed.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah .

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