It’s the dialectic of demonization. The de-demonization of the liberal, secular jew trying to weld the somewhat tenuous bond of the Judeo-Christian relationship and common heritage, cough, cough, after all didn’t our benevolent Pope comment that Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ “told it like it is.” Well, someone has to play the pharisee, someone has to be the semite in this game, someone has to be the asiatic element that cannot be assimilated. So, the hatred has to find a spitoon and in Israel it takes the form of the ultra-orthodox, the observant in general, but the “Haredim” as they are called in particular; a good old fashioned visible minority. Just like Europe and the secular elite gets to play the role of German burgher. But the old tropes cannot really be sustained anymore. Zionism has changed the dynamic of the religious, almost against their will…
The arrangement by which the ultra religious agree to be marginalized, in return for accommodation and financial favors, but letting the secular have free reign over running the state is starting to get frayed at the seams. For one thing, the status-quo is proving to be impractical for the Haredim. The huge families and need for more income means that to be a basket case, a charity case, a parasite, is no longer tenable. Also, their blissful ignorance of what the state does has seen the light, and they figure they can get more value for their citizenship through engagement. There are theological implications and and emotional of a jewish state and waiting for the messiah time can be filled in viably with a little attentiveness to what is transpiring in their backyard.
The transition of Haredim attitudes means a confrontation with an ambivalent relationship to which a secular society and their many mouthpieces: Yair Lapid, and all the major media, can resort to charges of pious exploitation; but this served the elite well.They were willing to accord them legal and financial dispensations, a free pass on army duty for staying out of their hair and now they can vilify them for same. The usual no-win situation that indemnified diaspora jews for centuries into a space between the tree and the bark.
And the secular mass public has some good arguments: The Haredim arrive at the conclusion that since he state is nominally Jewish, they are obliged to grant them these dispensations and perks, using the civil mechanisms as a pick and choose buffet table. There is a lot of posturing on both sides, and with their growing numbers, its almost economic suicide for the state to not re-align components in the relationship.
That aside, the visceral reaction, read blatant hatred of considerable numbers of Israelis to the Haredi occupying the same soil belies a sense of being threatened by this segment attaining political consciousness and acting within the secular sphere; there are some profound forces at work, significantly demographic and post Zionist, or a fading of those Zionist institutions and social projects which are no longer meaningful to many. The Haredim were always subversive, almost bohemian in their disregard for state convention, not working , living on entitlement etc. that could engender contempt in the smug knowledge they could be disregarded or viewed as a nuisance; however, if the Haredi rebelliousness is channeled towards new, more sensitive currents, it gives rise to anxiety, if these jews begin to exert their rights of emancipation.
It is ironic that some of the far left critique of contemporary Zionism accurately reflects the Haredi ideology vis a vis the state for at least fifty years. After all, their lifestyle is anti-establishment, almost counterculture: cohesive close community, looking for the spiritual high, attach little importance to work and the normative idea of success, dress weird, and overall reject the dominant culture. Aggressively. They are an unsettling threat to Israeli identity.
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