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May 7, 2008

secular coercion

Cross-posted on DB

I was listening to the radio tonight and the host of the talk show was discussing the Yom Ha'Zikaron siren. He mentioned an interview from earlier in the day that raised a very interesting point.

The interview was between some other radio host, Yaron Dekel, a secular Jew, and Amnon Levi, another secular Jew who is a journalist for Yediot Acharonot among other news media. Amnon Levi is an interesting character. he is extremely secular and extremely left wing, but he worked for a while as a correspondent to the Haredi community, and also wrote a best-selling book about Haredi lifestyle. That gave him the opportunity to understand the Haredi position and lifestyle, somewhat, and despite his previous prejudice and his worldview on other issues, he retains a sensitivity and understanding of Haredim that other journalists do not have.

Anyways, back to the interview.

So Dekel is talking to Levi about the Yom HaZikaron siren and asks him, due to his "expertise" on the topic of Haredim, about Haredim not standing still during the siren.

Levi's response was very interesting.

Levi said, first of all that most Haredim do stand (at least in public) still and are not provocative. It is some who do not, but they should not be lumped together.

Regarding those who do not, he explained that the drive by the majority of Israelis (in the press), secular Jews for the most part, to insist on Haredim standing still is really a form of secular coercion and the insistence on following around haredim looking for the one who does not stand still and then attacking Haredim because of those who do not is really a form of incitement..

Levi explained; Let us imagine that Shas, or another Haredi party, took over the government and was the ruling party. Let's say they decided to change the rules and say that the way to commemorate Yom Ha'Zikaron (and Yom Ha'Shoah) was not to stand for a moment of silence, but to go to the nearest shul and say Kaddish for the memory of your fallen relatives/friends.

Imagine that scenario. He asked Dekel what would your reaction, as a secular Jew, be?

Dekel's response was that no way would that be acceptable. Religious coercion and the like.

Levi turned that around and said that it is the same thing but the other way. The Haredim have their own way of commemorating their fallen. And they also have people who died in wars or terror or the Shoah, and they too commemorate them, in their preferred methods. So it does not include standing still, rather it includes tehillim or kaddish or something else.

It is not like they are not commemorating the fallen, just they wish to commemorate the fallen using the methods they believe in and their religion advocates. For us to impose our method upon them is secular coercion and incitement. We should let them, and others, commemorate the day in the way that they believe is appropriate.

Of course, I would like to add, that does not give anybody the right to act like the crazies that made the news tonight for rioting against Yom HaZikaron....but it does refer to most of the Haredi public.

Some food for thought.

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