Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Persecuted? They Don't Know The Meaning Of The Word.

By now, I'm sure you're all aware of the rally that was held last week in Jerusalem's Kikar HaShabbat.  Chareidim chose to dress themselves and their children in Nazi garb to protest... well, I'm not sure what they were protesting.

Many chareidim in Israel, it seems, feel persecuted.  As you are no doubt well-aware, extremists in the chareidi camp have been trying to force an agenda of religious extremism on others in Israel.  Bloggers have long been writing about the violence and intimidation coming from the extremists' camp.  Eventually, a number of incidents involving violence on buses and intimidation of school-age children has captured the attention of the international media.  People began writing against the actions of the extremists and, rightly or wrongly, against chareidim in general.  In short, the chareidi public had a PR nightmare on their hands, and the entire chareidi community, both the extremists and those against them, were caught up in the glare of unflattering light brought against them.

In response, over a thousand men gathered in Jerusalem to protest on the night of Dec 31.  Many of the protesters dressed themselves and their children in Holocaust-themed clothing, trying to show that just as the Jews in Nazi Germany were persecuted, so too they are being persecuted.  You can see images of the protest here and here.

The not-so-funny part of the entire affair is that these people have no idea what the word "persecution" means.


These people live in a state where Judaism can be freely practiced (even if they are unable to freely push extremist views on others).  There are no laws preventing anyone from keeping Shabbos, davening, learning Torah and so on.


They live in a state where many of them do not (by choice) work, and instead choose to learn Torah all day while being supported by the state.  In addition, in a state where military or national service is normally mandatory, they are largely *excused* from such service if they continue to learn in yeshivos, and given the opportunity to serve in special chareidi units if they so choose.


They live in an environment where they aren't subject to special Jewish taxes, aren't subject to having their properly confiscated without compensation on the whim of some local official, are free to live pretty much wherever they want, aren't forced in overcrowded urban ghettos and aren't subject to forced labor.


They aren't forced to go into churches each week and listen to fiery sermons delivered by preachers telling them that they are condemned to torment on earth and hell in the afterlife for holding on to their religious principles.  They've never been forced to make the choice between the Cross and the sword, never had to face a mob *literally* screaming for their heads simply because they chose to maintain their Jewish beliefs.


  • Ask a Jew who lived through the miracle of Purim if these people are truly persecuted.
  • Ask a Jew who lived through the oppression of the Seleucids at the time of the miracle of Channukah if these people are truly persecuted.
  • Ask a Jew who lived in medieval Europe, where their lives and fates could hang on the whim of some local lordling or church official if these people are truly persecuted?
  • Ask a Jew who lived in Spain during the Inquisition, where any outward display of Jewish behavior would likely mean death for them and their family if these people are truly persecuted.
  • Ask a Jew who lived through the Khmelnytsky Uprising if these people are truly persecuted.
  • Ask a Jew who made it through the Nazi Holocaust if these people are truly persecuted.
  • Ask a Jew who bravely held on to Jewish practice in secrecy in the Soviet Union if these people are truly persecuted.

Any of those people would have *loved* to be able to live the life the chareidim are living now.  Persecuted??  They have no idea how good their lives are in comparison to the vast majority of Jews who have lived during the last two thousand years.  Their use of Nazi-created imagery to portray themselves as the victims of persecution only shows that those who participated in the rally are completely ignorant of history... and that's truly a shame as you'd think that, as a people who have lived through so much true persecution, they'd be more appreciative of just how good they truly have it.

The Wolf


Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

As the old saying goes, don't try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.

SQ said...

Chareidim didn't just invoke Nazis, they invoked blood libels — on the cover of the newspaper!

PsychoToddler said...

Well said, it's sickening.

Anonymous said...

Well, along with secular studies, Jewish history is just not taught- or rather, what's taught is woefully inaccurate if not outright revisionist.

I teach English in a chasidic girls' school in Williamsburg. I am not allowed to talk about the Holocaust at all (so no Holocaust-themed literature) because it's dealt with by the limudei kodesh teachers as a hashkafic issue- they don't want any "How could G-d do such a thing" type questions. They also want to keep it a religious thing, not a historical one. It's hard to explain, but I could talk about it more if you're interested.

Mike S. said...

If your world view centers on the need to isolate yourself in a community of people wholly of your own religious practice, you tend to view constraints on your ability to coerce your neighbors as persecution. This is not only true among Chareidim in beit Shemesh. The "religious freedom" the pilgrims from England to Massachusetts were seeking was also mainly the ability to coerce their neighbors into following their religion. Which is why Roger Williams broke off and founded Rhode Island, and Penn founded Pennsylvania.

Yam Erez said...

Their whole ethos is based on maintaining their self-image as "us against the *goyim*", only now that they don't have the handy Cossacks persecuting them any longer, they make us (non-Orthodox Jews) into the Cossacks. Twisted, I know. Indeed, they've turned persecution into a fetish.

jrs said...

Perhaps the greatet danger to orthodox Jews--& Judaism---is not directly from such extremist fringe types, but from the vast “center” that always fails to adequately, clearly & unequivocally condemn such behavior.

For every extremist chareidi nut, there are a hundred yeshivish types who are too busy “defending” against goyim, gays, Reform Jews, feminists & others, to really work up much indignation about a few frum guys who “maybe went a little too far”.

And for each of those yeshivish, parochial types, there are their often less-yeshivish parents, in-laws & siblings---so many of whom who claim to be of independent mind on many issues---but who generally let institutions like Lakewood, the Agudah, etc. set the agenda for everything, and they just fall into line.

Among all these tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of reasonable yidden, you’re not likely to hear much concerted protest against the actions of ostensibly frum fanatics in Israel (or the US)

Woodrow/Conservadox said...

Very hard to ask most of the people you mentioned in the main post, since they have been dead for hundreds of years!

(I know, your point is that if they were alive today they'd agree with you... but picky picky picky!)

ItcheSrulik said...

It's times like this when you wonder if people like Rabbi Kanefsky should be wasting their time abolishing shelo asani isha. Instituting a new bracha would be a much better use of their efforts. בא"י אמ"ה שלא עשני פרומאק

AztecQueen2000 said...

I wrote a post about this:

Anonymous said...

Scratch the surface of an Israeli haredi and you'll find an Israeli. It's a national sport here to portray our group, tribe, subsociety, what have you, as persecuted, oppressed, repressed, hounded, and all the rest. Extremists of all stripes occasionally whip out Holocaust imagery, too. Fortunately, most of us don't take it that far and give tne nutcases the wide detour that they deserve.