Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Haredi Protests Planned Over Israeli Desegregation Order

The Haredi Jewish community in Israel is planning to protest the enforcement of an Israeli Supreme Court ruling which would require they desegregate their schools (currently, Ashkenazi and Sepharidc Jewish students are kept apart in these ultra-religious academies). If the parents disobey the court order, they risk a two-week jail sentence for contempt of court.

Am I the only one who really isn't bothered at the prospect of a bunch of racists being thrown in jail for awhile by the Israeli government? Seriously, my sympathy for these blots on the holy name is very, very limited.


Anonymous said...

The Girls School in Emanuel, Another Side of The Story

I must admit that I, too, like many found myself believing the media's reports about the girls school in the Chareidi Samaria town, Emanuel...

First article...

...Emanuel is home to a community of Slonimers and a community of Sefardim - the majority of which are not religious.

There is only one elementary school for girls there -the Beit Yaakov in controversy. Until this law suit came into being, the school had 2 tracks -the religious track which serviced the religious girls i.e. the Slonimers and a handfull of Sefardi girls who are religious - and the non-religious track which serviced the non-religious girls - all of them Sefardim. Both tracks were quite happy with this arrangement.

Mr. Lelom, who receives funding from a extreme left anti-chareidi organization, has no personal interest in Emanuel, as he does not live there nor do his family members. His law suit is motivated by an agenda to vilify charedim as racists, and not at all to promote the interests of the Sefardim in Emanuel. 80% of the parents from the non-religious track signed a petition to stop the lawsuit because they are happy to keep their daughters 'segregated'. The teaching staff for both tracks of the Beit Yaakov consisted of Slonimer mothers - those now going to jail - and so Lelom's victory has left the 'vicitimized' Sefardi girls with no teachers and has done nothing to help their education.

When this lawsuit began, the Slonimer parents consulted with the Slonimer Rebbe who advised them against mixing the tracks and bringing their daughters into contact with mixed dancing, television, treife food, etc etc. The parents sent a request to the bagatz to allow them to explain their position. This request was ignored, and until 1 1/2 months ago, all of the proceedings were based off of information provided by Mr. Lelom....

In court, the parents explained that their decision to keep the classes separate was not racist - in fact there were Sefardi girls in the religious class! - it was merely a religious matter. One track preferred a sheltered religious approach to education, and the other did not.
(One parent - a ZAKA volunteer - went further and said that racism is obviously not part of their lives - when he 'cleans up' after a bombing he cleans up dark skin with the same broken heart that he cleans up white skin.)

The court was taken aback by hearing this 'new' information and ordered a compromise .....
Lelom did not accept this compromise. And so the parents were again ordered to send their girls to Beit Yaakov and mix the classes...
...we chareidim are willing to make sacrifices to uphold our freedom of religion - freedom to practice Torah true Judaism in this country that calls itself Jewish...

Anonymous said...

Second article
The smallest estimate of total participants that I heard was 300,000, ... The Emanuel parents started in Bnei Brak, and continued in Yerushalayim, on their way to turn themselves in to the police. In light of the great z'chus that they have, to be persecuted for their Judaism, the Slonimer Rebbe ruled that they would walk to prison in full shabbos attire, shtreimel and all, with their heads held high.

... Rav Elyashiv's gabbai spoke, followed by Rav David Batzri, a sephardi mekubel. In his speech he said that there has never been any discrimination against Sephardim amongst Torah Observant Jews. All Torah Observant Jews learn the Rambam together with Tosfos, the Beis Yosef with the Rema, the Arizal with Baal HaTanya, and the Mishnah Brurah together with the Ben Ish Chai. He said that discrimination against Sephardim was introduced by the Secular Zionists when they took the yaldei teheran and cut off their peyot and forced upon them the gods of secularism.

After that, one of the parents spoke, Rav Almaliach, a sephardi father who is right now starting his two week sentence for discriminating against sephardim...
... Rav Almaliach went on to tell the world the statistical truth, that 30% of the 43 families of the Chassidic track are Sephardim, and many of them ba'alei Tshuvah.

From there, the parade started to the police station, Jews from all the different shades of skin and affiliations,
...Then the parents started through the crowds, carried on others shoulders, one chossid with one sephardi, taking along also their sons. As they were carried through the crowd, the chossid would start Shma Yisroel, and after the crowd answered, the Sephardi started Hashem Melech. After the Chossid led the crowd in Hashem hu ha'elokim, the sephardi led ana hashem hoshiya na. After those two prisoners were taken into custody amongst very loud applause, the next set of parents started making their way, in the same fashion. If this kidush hashem didn't show our misguided secular brothers (and misguided people who happen to not be secular like Mr. Lalom), that G-d's people is One Indivisible people, then they must be blind to the truth.

David Schraub said...

Whether or not the school's divisions are permissible (on grounds of religious observance) or impermissible (on grounds of racial prejudice) is a question of fact to be decided by the court. The court, having made its decision, must be obeyed. The parents here have no more right to resist than did the city of Little Rock in Cooper v. Aaron, and this basic point -- respect for rule of law -- is one that Israeli authorities need to demonstrate with a firm and steady hand.

Anonymous said...

I posted that because it's a good idea to get both sides of the story before you call people "racists" and "blots on the holy name"

David Schraub said...

Every racist claims they're not. That doesn't mean that every claim that someone's racist is true. But it does mean that I am appropriately deferential to a court order, in essence, telling me that it is true.

More importantly, the recent trend of ultra-Orthodox Jews who see themselves as above the law in Israel is deeply distressing to me and should be to any other friend of the state. They represent a serious threat to Israel's integrity as a functioning state for the Jewish people. And that pisses me off at least as much as the fact that they seem prejudices against Sephardic Jews does.

Anonymous said...

the conflation between racist discrimination and religious discrimination is the issue. Definititely the Chareidi discriminate on the matter of religious observance. Their standard is very strict.
IT just so happens that the more secular girls were Sephardi, this same sort of thing would happen if if the secular girls were European.

The question is at one point does a government or governments have the right to tell people how to observe their faith.For the CHareidi it's a matter of freedom of religion. If the courts can integrate secular and religious do they also have the power to force religious Jews to integrate with Muslims or CHristians or Buddhists in the name of not being racist?
THis has been an issue JEwish people have faced for years. THe JEwish tendency to insist on following halacha even when it conflicts with the laws of the land . THe refusal to "integrate" with the larger society. The sense of "choseness" all these things have infuriated many others over the centuries leading them to call Jews things like " a blot on the holy name" and worse.
Racists all deny they're racists okay and criminals all say they are innocent but usually we give them fair trials before we convict.
Even if all the CHareidi are guilty of being racists that still doesn't mean that this is what this issue is about. This is primarily a religious matter of separating less strictly observant Jews from more strictly observant Jews.IT is part of a bigger problem in all the Jewish world.It's not just Sephardi and Ashkenazi. It's Chabad versus Breslov, Modern ORthodox versus Sartmer DAti Leumi versu Neuturi Karta, Litvish versus Chassidic. Secular, Reform, Reconstructionist versus ORthodox secular versus religious etc. etc. IT should be addressed for what it is otherwise there is no hope of arriving at true justice.

N. Friedman said...


There is no race issue involved. There is discrimination, for sure. Under Israeli law, the noted discrimination may appropriately be remedied by Court. But, this is certainly not a race issue, lest the meaning of the word "race" be effectively changed to include non-racial matters.

The Ashkenazim and Sephardim are, based on the most recent scientific evidence, the same race, sharing the same genetic material and they do not, so far as I know, consider themselves to be of different races.

Instead, they hold somewhat different beliefs, customs, etc.. Jews, both Ashkenazim and Sephardim, who believe in their traditions take ideas seriously - something that a person who calls such things racist clearly does not.

Now, these people may believe in nonsense. But, that does not make them racists. In the US, Catholic schools give preference in admissions to students of Catholic background. The real issues arise for a non-Catholic in a Catholic school. Must he or she participate in education that relates only to Catholicism? I am not sure what the law says. But, I can see it as a conundrum for which, no matter what the answer is under the law, the concern is not race. So, why your belief that race is involved?

PG said...

"The Ashkenazim and Sephardim are, based on the most recent scientific evidence, the same race, sharing the same genetic material..."

Really? I thought Tay-Sachs was of particularly high frequency only among Ashkenazi Jews. That would seem indicative that they are genetically different from Sephardim in at least one way. Ashkenazi

Jews are more genetically similar to Sephardic Jews than to non-Jewish Europeans, but that doesn't mean that the two Jewish groups cannot consider themselves to be of different ethnicities and thus engage in racism toward each other. (Or would you argue that because Irish and English people are both racially "white," the English couldn't be racist toward the Irish?)

N. Friedman said...


You evidently have not read The New York Times recently. According to the article:

A major surprise from both surveys is the genetic closeness of the two Jewish communities of Europe, the Ashkenazim and the Sephardim.

In fact:

The shared genetic elements suggest that members of any Jewish community are related to one another as closely as are fourth or fifth cousins in a large population, which is about 10 times higher than the relationship between two people chosen at random off the streets of New York City, Dr. Atzmon said.

Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews have roughly 30 percent European ancestry, with most of the rest from the Middle East, the two surveys find. The two communities seem very similar to each other genetically, which is unexpected because they have been separated for so long.

Ashkenazim and Sephardim do not consider each other to be of different races. They have different views about Judaism, a subject which is, I can assure you, more centrally important to both groups than the law is to either David or me - and we both have great interest in the law. Which is to say, to these people, religion is not just an important thing, it is the central thing in their lives.

Your contention is a theoretical one. Yes, those involved could hold racist views about each other. That, however, does not mean they do. And, in fact, they do not.

joe said...

Right. Because racism never has anything to do with a belief that Group A's culture is superior to Group B's, or that there exists a difference so profound that strict separation must be observed, at least with the exception of some "good ones."

Nope, only people who believe in strict genetic essentialism through heredity are doing anything that forces us to dust off the hoary old "racism" label. Why it's practically a dead issue!

N. Friedman said...


I shall quote the great British author Howard Jacobson:

This is not a species of scholasticism, verbal fastidiousness for its own sake. If we do not properly describe what a thing is like and not like, we do not know what it is. It is in the nature of hatred not to know what a thing is like and not to care. Which is why we say that hatred is blind. Indeed, one of the signs that hatred is being brewed, in an individual or a community, is the deliberate wedding of like to unlike. Brutes yoke unlikes together in haste, enjoying that surge in emotional violence that blurring all distinctions brings.

Here is why intellectuals, philosophers, artists, poets, are so important to our wellbeing. By exploring the ways things are different, however much they may sometimes look the same, by showing us how and why a thing became the thing it is and not another thing, they help still the undifferentiated violence of the furious and embittered. Little by little, they bring the calm of distinctness and individuality back into our lives

Racism is a distinct thing. Not all intolerance is racism. Believing that one's religion or one's interpretation of a religion is superior to another is not racism.

David Schraub said...

I think there are very few people who think racism strictly requires even a belief in the existence of genetically distinct races (much less that the two groups in question are distinguishable). Indeed, the last time I made this observation you agreed with it.

And there is, in fact, quite a bit of evidence that Ashkenazi Jews do view Sephardic and Mizrachi Jews as racially different, and have prejudicial attitudes against them on account them being racially inferior. This has been a problem in Israel for some time -- much of the success of the Shas Party is based on its mobilization of grievances the Sephardic/Mizrachi community has against alleged mistreatment by the Ashkenazim -- mistreatment which is perceived to be racially motivated. Your whitewash is not supported by evidence, and the fact that Israeli society, the judiciary, and particularly the Sephardic/Mizrachi litigants -- basically, everyone but the Ashkenazi parents urging continued exclusion -- perceives the controversy as existing along a racial faultline is powerful evidence that you don't have as complete an understanding of Ashkenazi/Sephardic/Mizrachi divides as you think you do.

N. Friedman said...


But, of course, we are not speaking about the general Ashkenazi community, are we? So stop being cute. Instead, we are speaking about a subset of people to whom religion is the central thing in their lives and who base their discrimination solely on religious grounds - which is, whether or not you believe it, the real ground for their objections. That does not make it good or legal. It also does not make it racism.

Discrimination based on perceived inferior customs simply is not racism. It is, I should add, not a good thing either and, in a given society - in this case, Israel - it is something to be addressed and overcome.

I object to the misuse of language - which is what you are doing here. I am well aware that that Jews with families from Arab countries were, far more in the past than now, subject to considerable prejudice - but not racism. I am also aware that Israel has done a substantial amount to remedy the situation.

Calling something that is not racist by the word "racist" does not make it racist. It means, instead, that you are yoking unlikes together as if they were likes.

You claim that it is a racial matter but cite no evidence. You merely cite general information - largely out of date, by the way - from Israel's early years in which it found poorly educated Jews from Arab lands. Now that universities are packed with Jews from Arab lands and now that the intermarriage rate between Ashkenazim and Sephardim is rather high, your information is dated.

David Schraub said...

With all due respect, NF, what we are actually talking about is a legal case where the defense was that the discrimination was based on religious, not racial, grounds, and the court specifically rejected that defense. So who's being cute now?

N. Friedman said...


And, what definition of race was the Court using?

By the way, I support the decision, but not the reasoning. So, call mine a concurring opinion.

N. Friedman said...

One other point: has the possibility not occurred to you that the Court is result shopping in order to fit a reasonable complaint into a bottle acceptable to statute and case law?

Again: this is not an issue of race. The issue is religious discrimination. It is its own bad thing but that does not make it racist.

I repeat: You are being cute, relying on a view of things that is out of date.

David Schraub said...

Trust me, no matter how cute I am, it's nowhere near as adorable as your efforts to convert "uncritically accepting defense arguments against the explicit opinion of the court and the near-universal understanding amongst all sectors of Israeli society save Haredi Ashkenazim regarding what axis this conflict lies upon" into something approaching a compelling argument. Just waving warrantless non-sequiturs in the air ("results-shopping!" "out-dated!" "what definition of race!") is less an effort at persuasion than an indication of abject panic.

N. Friedman said...


What is the evidence of racial discrimination - and not just discrimination - by those accused in the law suit? How do we distinguish between racial and other forms of discrimination? I do not think that you have an answer that addresses the issues in the case. See this article. There is substantial evidence contradicting the racial theory you hold. As stated in the noted opinion article:

More than a quarter of the girls who had been enrolled in the new school were Sephardim. And there were Ashkenazi girls who remained in the original Beit Yaakov, too. What is more, not one applicant to the new school was rejected. Any girl willing to abide by the school’s standards was welcomed, regardless of her ethnic background. The “segregation,” it seems, consisted of nothing more than two schools offering two different sets of religious standards.

The Supreme Court emperor’s nakedness may have been most succinctly voiced by one of the parents who went to jail as he was held aloft by the crowd and a reporter’s microphone was put before him.

“Are you a Sephardi?” asked the off-camera voice, its owner having apparently noticed the man’s complexion.

“Yes,” he replied, “A Yemenite.”

Then, with a wry smile at the absurdity of it all, he added, “A Yemenite is being taken in [to prison] for racism. You understand?”

As my cited article shows, I think that your answer thus far shows contempt for people who treat religion as being central to their lives.

Again: the issue here is behavior and belief, not race.

Anonymous said...

oops I just realized they are Chassidic not HAredi pretty big difference.Don't want to slander HAredi.

PG said...

"Ashkenazim and Sephardim do not consider each other to be of different races. They have different views about Judaism, a subject which is, I can assure you, more centrally important to both groups than the law is to either David or me - and we both have great interest in the law. Which is to say, to these people, religion is not just an important thing, it is the central thing in their lives."

ALL Ashkenazim and Sephardim consider religion the central thing in their lives? Huh, I thought I'd met many people belonging to both groups who were non-practicing Jews.