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Oct 26, 2010

Haredim are worse than crime and prostitution

Haredim are less desirable than packs of illegal foreign workers from Sudan. In the eyes of the secular community.

Walking through South Tel Aviv can be a harrowing experience. The neighborhood is seedy and falling apart. The neighborhood attracts all the lower elements of society - the illegal foreign workers who pile into apartments, some sleep in the street (the weather is warm so why not?), prostitutes wandering around, and every other category in the lower end of the societal chain.

Personally, I have walked through the South Tel Aviv neighborhoods. I have seen Sudanese (they looked it at least - maybe they were also from other parts of Africa) refugees standing around in their underwear, hanging laundry right on the side of the street. The neighborhood is plagued by high levels of crime and drugs. It is dirty and unkempt. If you read articles in the paper about the lifestyle of these foreign workers, you will know that they live in very poor conditions - old apartments, crowding of too many of them together into small apartments, to save money, etc.

Yet despite the reality of a South Tel Aviv that is falling apart and people are afraid to walk there, the secular leaders still prefer that over having haredim live there.

Yesterday at the Tel Aviv municipal council meeting, Shas representative Benjamin Babayof recommended a plan that the city of Tel Aviv would support and promote rehabilitating the neighborhood and encourage young haredi families to move there. The housing would initially be cheaper (until real estate prices start to increase as the neighborhood gets better), and it could be a solution for Tel Aviv's problem with the neighborhood of South Tel Aviv, along with the haredi housing problem.

Other representatives on the city council absolutely rejected the proposed plan. They said there is no chance that they will allow the haredization of the neighborhood, and would not fund it in any way. "It makes no sense to allow the criminals of Shas getting out of jail and filling up our neighborhoods".

Not all haredim are the "criminals of Shas", and lumping them together in such a category is despicable. It also shows that in their minds, haredim are the worst and lowest elements of society. They prefer criminals, prostitution, drugs and seedy foreign workers over haredim,

How can the problems ever be solved when the divide is so great? If you think the hatred and division comes only from the haredi side of the coin, it is obvious that it comes just as equally from the secular side.

9 comments:

  1. You have pinpointed the whole problem. The haredim have an image problem, and it won't go away unless they do something about. When a secular thinks of hareidi, instead of thinking of an honest, G-d fearing, pleasant, ethical person, he thinks of the hareidi as a parasite, draft-dodger, criminal, money grabber, smelly, unkempt, black coated, who wants to stop them having fun and enjoying themselves. Is that really the way they wish to portray themselves? Now it is not all haredim, maybe not even half, but enough to give a bad image. There must be a PR guy who can change this (false) image, but it will take time. The problem is the haredi politicians really give haredim a bad name.

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  2. Meir, please read how this sounds:

    "The Jews have an image problem, and it won't go away unless they do something about. When a gentile thinks of a Jew, instead of thinking of an honest, G-d fearing, pleasant, ethical person, he thinks of the Jew as a parasite, draft-dodger, criminal, money grabber, smelly, unkempt, who wants to stop them having fun and enjoying themselves. Is that really the way they wish to portray themselves? Now it is not all Jews, maybe not even half, but enough to give a bad image. There must be a PR guy who can change this (false) image, but it will take time. The problem is the Jewish politicians really give the Jews a bad name."

    If you saw this in the paper, wouldn't you say the author of this piece harbors anti-Semitic feelings?

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  3. The issue goes well beyond PR and politicians. The underlying issue is that when chareidim reach a critical mass they make demands governing all aspects of lifestyle. I can see a chiloni woman worried about having to sit in the back of the bus, or a chiloni car owner worried about not being able to drive out of his house on Shabbat, or all sorts of chilonim worried about closures of certain food stores and video stores, movie houses, etc. So this is a turf issue. Based on prior realities in other neighborhoods, chilonim have good cause to worry that a chareidi critical mass will constrain their freedom to live a chiloni lifestyle.

    Some of the stories you have have carried about RBS make it clear that even dattei leumi feel coerced by charedim.

    So the real issue for charedim is are they willing to respect pluralism once they get the numbers and votes to influence local politicians.

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  4. David,
    Nice idea, to replace haredi with Jew in my piece. Of course it sounds terrible, but that was not the opinion of gentiles towards haredim, except for a odd antisemite. I'm not saying this, I'm saying that is what is in the secular mind. It is wrong, of course. I can understand the haredi side too, to defend against permissiveness, and trying to uphold the Torah as they see it. But you cannot deny that they do not do army, and there are quite a few haredi well known people, who have ended up in jail, and given their whole community a bad name because of this. Now Netanyahu is not the Tzar, the army is our army, the secular are not goyim or antisemites, so the PR really needs to be done on both sides, ad I get the impression from the haredi side, that they have misconceptions about the secular as well, that they think they are all treif eaters, immoral and immodest, and all Shabbos breakers. Some are - but not all. Even if they are they are fellow Jews, who have strayed. So all the PR needs to be dealt with on both sides.

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  5. misconceptions from the haredi side? you should read the editorial in today's free Yated edition about the secular trying to cancel the havtachat hacnasa...

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  6. Rafi G - you should read the editorial in today's free Yated edition about the secular trying to cancel the havtachat hacnasa...

    I didn't read it, but what's wrong with people trying to cancel a welfare program for those who refuse to even consider steps towards bettering their financial situation?

    The way I look at welfare is that it's a program for the unfortunate, not for the irresponsible.

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  7. Mark - the comment was not about the topic, it was about the hate and vitriol with which the editorial was written against those who attempt to cancel to havtachat hachnasa. It was written with real hatred and called the secular all sorts of insults.

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  8. I wasn't sure Rafi what you meant by your rhetorical question "misconceptions about the charedi side?"

    So perhaps your point is that it is the charedi-side PR machines encouraging the misconceptions?

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  9. Can't We All Just get Along?October 26, 2010 8:02 PM

    There is no question that bias exists on both sides here.

    However as a member of the Charedi world I must say that by and large there is much more bias from the Charedi side rather than toward it.

    Many secualr Israelis actually respect the religious life of a Dati/Charedi Jew. Although it may not "be for them" they do respect people who are earnest and sincere in their frumkeit and recognize that it is NOT for others (ie secular Jews).

    The problems arise when people feel that a standard is being forced down their throats. Mehadrin buses are a prime example. If separation is so important for certain people let them spend more money and take a taxi. These same people who will only ride mehadrin buses have no problem paying more for mehadrin chickens, a mehudar esrog, etc so let them pay more for their transportation if that is what they require.

    Consider as well how a secular jew who works, pays taxes and served in the army feels about a rapidly growing population that doesn't work (bshitta), doesn't serve in the army (bshitta) and doesn't accept the nationalist ideas of Zionism (bshitta).

    While there is no room for hate anywhere here there is room for ill feelings.

    Let's be honest as well regarding the Charedi attitude toward even religious Jews. Recently there was protests against Rappaport in Yerushalyim. Locally there was a move against the mikve.

    I am a collector for Lema'an Achai in my neighborhood. I won't even relate some of the looks and comments that I rec'd from Charedi neighbors the first time I came to collect for them. This is an amazing organization that helps mostly Charedim and is run by a mix of Charedim and DL and yet even so people discriminate against it. Even the ads in local papers sometimes say "Under Charedi management" or ownership. How do you think secualr Jews feel when they see that?
    Do you ever see an ad saying "Chiloni management"?

    So yes, while I agree that there could be much improvement all around in regard to Ahavas Yisrael it is the Charedi world who should have the moral high ground.

    ReplyDelete

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