Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I just watched this video of the "protest" that went on in Beit-Shemesh yesterday. The background is slightly murky (I suggest reading the Life In Israel blog for a fuller background) but seems to be a bunch of Haredi extremists who are not allowing a Religious-Zionist girl school to open in proximity to a Haredi neighborhood.

This video is amazing for the view of RZ – Haredi community relations that it offers. In the first few minutes of the video the RZ are singing Hatikvah – the national anthem as a protest song. The meaning is clear – we are part of the state of Israel and you are not. The next song confused me a little. They were singing "אחינו כל בית ישראל" lit All of Israel are brothers – traditionally a song that is meant to imply unity across the nation. The song so confused me that originally I thought it must be the Haredim who are singing it. However it was only in the second half of the song that I understood – the song continues by asking god to have mercy on all of Israel living in "darkness" – the protesters were referring to the Haredim as living in darkness. What a twist! Next we got the crowd screaming loudly the most hateful name used by Israeli society at large to degrade the Haredim – Parasites.

While I do not think it is right to generalize based on only one video – especially at an emotionally charged event, and considering the behavior of the Haredim who are acting (yet again) as little more then thugs, there is something to be learned from this video. There is often a discussion in the RZ public (or at least in RZ youth groups) of whether it should side more with the Haredi "torah is everything" worldview or with the non religious. This video clearly shows that at the very least, anti- Haredi sentiment is well established in the RZ public.  

HT: Tzedek Tzedek blog for the video. He is also blogging intelligently on the topic, and giving a local's perspective. 

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