11 January 2012

Ha'aretz - too much twisting can't be healthy, folks

With all the noise and excitement caused by the latest ultra-Orthodox shenanigans here, one should be careful indeed to keep a modicum of objectivity. The exclusion of women, the vicious attacks on the streets, the cursing and spitting, the separation on some bus lines - all this can't leave a person indifferent, no matter what his political credo or stance on the religion. On the other hand, if, as the popular claim goes, the above mentioned barbarous acts are the deed of a minuscule group of zealots, the police should be able to deal with them easily (that it can't or wouldn't is another matter, for another discussion).

The public response is, in general, a consensus and pretty bi-partisan. It's nice to see that at least in some respects we can still remain in agreement. However, sounds of dissonance are coming from Ha'aretz, the leftist mouthpiece, and here is a good example: and article titled Just don't make Israel 'too Jewish' by one Meron Rapaport. It is subtly subtitled Why this outburst against the ultra-Orthodox is different from all the others. To my surprise, in this unique case of across-the-board consensus, Ha'aretz has chosen to stand firm - against it. Against the consensus, of course.

Whether the stand is based on the regular principle of government-biting or some other principle that escapes me, I cannot rightly say. In any case, Meron Rapaport knows that "the secular public's criticism this time does not focus solely on the allocation of funds or sharing the burden of military service. It touches on the very essence of the ultra-Orthodox lifestyle".

If you don't see the poisonous tip of this clumsy arrow, look again. According to our Meron, it is not the attacks on secular (or not religious enough for the zealots) people that caused the public outcry, it is the "secular public's" desire to intervene into peaceful life of the ultra-Orthodox community.

But quite quickly the article turns from "the secular public's criticism" to unrestrained bashing of the right-wing government which, in Rapoport's mind, is the main culprit and instigator of the secular persecution of religious community. For instance:

Take Lieberman, for example. In a Yedioth Ahronoth interview last weekend, he sought to use the anti-ultra-Orthodox sentiments to dismantle the religious councils, i.e., take apart one of the cornerstones linking religion (Judaism ) to the state (Israel ).
Yeah, Meron. There is nothing wrong per se in bashing our government. Or bashing Lieberman, for that matter. Lieberman could do with as much bashing as possible (not that it would have any effect on him, mind you). But if there is a good point Lieberman ever made, it's precisely that one. And if it is possible to take apart all cornerstones linking religion (Judaism ) to the state (Israel) - more power to Lieberman. That largely secular-lefty Ha'aretz will take a stand against the government in this issue is about as natural as rabbits lying down with pythons. Unless the knee-jerk anti-government reflexes are the only factor that drives Ha'aretz.

Bashing for the sake of bashing is a stupid habit, Meron. Want to know why? Look no further than your own newspaper:
I think that Israeli democracy, under its current structure, is in constant conflict with its Jewish identity, and in recent years, every time it bends its Jewish identity backwards. This structure of democracy has only one mission: to dismantle.
(Benny Katzover, one of the settlers' leaders).