Nov 9, 2006

shooting yourself in the foot

I guess my blogation was short-lived...

The Haredi public, or some of them, has been rioting in protest over the upcoming Gay Pride Parade. The Haredi public in Israel is very misunderstood. We all judge them based on what we would do (I guess we judge everybody in relation to ourselves) in a similar situation and often we find their decisions and actions coming up short by our judgement.

Now I am not being an apologist for the Haredi public nor am I excusing them. I am against their violent tactics as much as the next guy. However it is important to try to understand where someone is coming from and what the other guy is thinking when judging them and trying to debate/discuss with them.

There are some people who think the Haredi public compare themselves to Pinchas who killed Zimri, a prince of Israel in the desert for a lewd act done in public with a Midianite girl, and was subsequently rewarded for restoring the honor of Israel and God with his zealous act. They them go on to either praise the Haredim for such zealotry on behalf of God or find a way to criticize them for their zealotry. Usually the criticism comes in the form of, "violence is wrong" or "Pinchas was a great man and they are not on his level."

The criticism is incorrect because the violent act is wrong. The halacha is that we would not tell a person to do such an act (because it is wrong) but kanaim pogin bo (a zealot will attack). Everybody criticized Pinchas for what he did, but then Hashem spoke up and blessed Pinchas with the special blessing of peace and kehuna. Hashem had to confirm for everybody that what Pinchas did was bold and ultimately correct and with pure intention.

These people might not be pure or doing it with pure intention, but that is not what we can know. And yes, we have a right to criticize them for it just like the nation criticized Pinchas until Hashem confirmed his integrity. Later in hindsight and retrospect we might see and understand that what they did was correct, or not.

Another point I want to mention: The Israeli haredi, specifically yerushalmi but not limited to, believes, rightfully or wrongfully, that nothing in the religious sphere in Israel has ever been acheived without violence. They feel they have always had to fight for road closures in their neighborhoods, school independance and anything else using violence. Diplomacy never ever worked for them (so they say) and therefore they already have it ingrained in them that when something is so diametrically against their beliefs that they feel it needs to be defended against, they come with a predisposition that diplomacy is a waste of time and a recipe for failure and violent protest is the only method.

You can argue with the concept, but this is what they believe. I know it. I have been told it by yerushalmi people many times in my years in Israel.

Last point I want to make: The Haredi public has succeeded in shooting itself in the foot. I do not know what response they should have used, but clearly the response we all witnessed this week (in foresight) is wrong. The haredi public engendered a lot of goodwill and sympathy during the summer with their response to the Lebanon War. We all witnessed the great amount of chessed they performed on behalf of people in the North, we saw how they cancelled their vacations from yeshiva and kollel (for the most part), we saw how they spent time in prayer on behalf of the soldiers fighting and the residents in afflicted areas. People were impressed. It was all over the media.

They have wasted and lost that goodwill with their gestures of violence this past week. They have shot themselves in the foot.

Not only have they once again aroused the hatred of the average Israeli who now considers the average haredi man a violent thug who wants to impose his will on everybody else, but even worse has been accomplished. they have turned what would have been the legitimate protest of all sorts of people from all different communities: National Religious was (is) against the parade and has been vocal about it, but nobody hears from them anymore; Muslims and Christians were aginst it but nobody hears their protests anymore. All we hear about are the Haredim protesting it.

They have turned this into a battle of the haredi against the secular. They may or may not win the battle, but the war will be lost. The parade has picked up a lot of support from secular figures saying they would march with the parade just to oppose the haredi attempt to wrest control of Jerusalem from the secular. This has turned from a general popular protest against the parade into a battle against the haredim.

That is how the haredim shot themselves in the foot.

The National Religious leaders allowed the haredim to usurp control of this protest in another sign of their lack of leadership skills and loss of any methods of protest. We saw how their protests were worthless during the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif, because they could not lead a protest to win. The protest was for show, with the battle already lost in advance. That is what was going to happen for the parade as well, had the haredim not usurped it.

The one good thing about this is hopefully Hashem will look down and say at least they tried to defend the honor and holiness of Jerusalem and Eretz Yisrael (whether He approves of the methods or not) and bestow us with His benevolence.


  1. 2 points:

    1. You missed the biggest halachic difference to pinchas. the halacha states that Pinchas was allowed to be pogim bo, and by extension anyone else who feels to be a kanoi, only "b'oso ma'aseh". Only while the act is actually being commited is one allowed to be a kanoi. Protesting about acceptance is NOT the same as being "b'emtzah hama'aseh"!

    2. The chareidim remind me of parsha re'eh. The chasidah is treif even with a name that involves chesed. Because they are only chasidim to their own kind! Unfortunately, the fewer bad apples here have caused a chillul hashem for the larger better group.

  2. The last part is the thing to remember. If we sit back and do nothing to protect Jerusalem, then we would be guilty for not trying.

  3. We saw how their protests were worthless during the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif, because they could not lead a protest to win. The protest was for show, with the battle already lost in advance. That is what was going to happen for the parade as well, had the haredim not usurped it.
    Nadia Matar has taken this idea one step further. See here.

  4. Well it seems the yerushalmi's were right.The parade has been canceled.
    (they're having a demonstration in a closed stadium instead)
    solly g(cutest of them all)

  5. Shaya - I left it out on purpose because it can be defined very liberally and I am not so sure how limiting kanaim pogin bo. My point is and stands that these are things that are wrong to do and we would not tell anyone to act in such a fashion. Only someone who is a kanai (really lshem shamayim) can react a certain way. In what situation it applies I think is unclear so I left it out.

    About the chessed it is true, but not really. While most of the chessed might be within their own communities, that is true of every community just by nature of the reality. If you go to a Dati Leumi community, the chessed groups there are also 99% limited to dati leumi people. That is just the nature of the game. Most people you will do chessed for are people within your area (or hwoever you wish to define a place). There will be times where the chessed will be done outside of the immediate area as well. In the war time we all witnessed them (not just them but lots of groups all over the country, but I am talking about them) along with their prayer and learning vigils on behalf of the soldiers and northern residents.

    anon - yes it looks like they won (of course nobody will admit that because they are blaming it on terror threats)

    malka - we have to try and do our best.

    yitz - thanks. that was a very good article..

  6. B"H I do not believe taht Ma'aseh Pinhas and the din of meqaneh pogaim bo is even the issue here. Rather, the parade is mahti. How about if you research this further by discovering how the Eidah Haredith, among other, ruled, and why?


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