The welling public debate over such issues as the funding of kollel students and the duty to serve in the IDF have created the feeling among the haredi population that secular Israeli society is unjustly seeking to besmirch the ultra-Orthodox.
Banners on haredi websites declaring these as “days of incitement” against haredim are prevalent, and the sector’s most eloquent speakers and writers are passionately making the case for their community.
Yossi Elituv, news editor for the haredi weekly Mishpacha
and a member of the Second Authority for Television and Radio, called on Tuesday for an encompassing evaluation of the haredi contribution to Israeli society through serious, level-headed dialogue, which he believes the secular media is preventing at all costs.
“We are approaching the day that the haredi minority and secular majority will have to open the books and place the cards on the table, to see who really is giving and who owes whom,” he told The Jerusalem Post
“All the questions being dealt with as slogans are missing the essence,” he went on. “Do the haredim contribute to society? The results of such an inquiry are surprising, and the spokespeople of the despicable campaign against the haredim would surely not welcome them.”
He noted that “there is no haredi emigration from Israel, the sector has
the highest rates of aliya, there are lots of investments and income
from vacations as well – the higher the correlation to religion, the
more vacations spent here. The less the religious affinity among the
Israeli Jews, the more vacation money they spend on the streets of Rome
According to Elituv, “there is much to hold a discussion over, but no
such discourse today, only exchanges of slander. The Israeli media takes
the liberty to refer to haredim with terminology reserved for animals.
We are approaching the moment where we will all have to sit around a
table for a serious discussion, and all the instigators will have to go
underground, because from hatred you cannot build a people. We are part
of one people with a joint destiny, and must live together.”
In a recent radio interview on a similar theme, MK Moshe Gafni (United
Torah Judaism) made a clear distinction between the Israeli public,
which he said was traditional and sympathetic to haredim, and the media.
Elituv also endorsed that line.
“The media does not enable a serious discourse, and leads to emotional,
verbal rampaging, since that is what will prevent the masses from
speaking rationally. It is doing what the worst of the nations did, when
they wanted to mortally attack an ethnic group,” Elituv said.
“They turn them into bloodsuckers, parasites, and after delegitimizing
[and dehumanizing] them, let loose the machines of war. The media wants
decisions to be reached in an atmosphere of violence, with known
outcomes,” he asserted.
“Most of the columnists and tone-setters have an anti-haredi agenda. They want to turn Israel into Sweden,” he continued.
“And of course there is the desire to sell newspapers when not much is
happening, even at the price of a civil war. The media is controlled by a
small group of people who belong to the fringes of the extreme Left.”
He warned that “a state in which a minority is referred to with the
terminology of [vermin multiplying] in headlines, a state in which the
media teaches hatred, is in a very severe problem. All of the external
threats looming over Israel are diminished in the wake of the threat of a
In related news, Tel Aviv District Police on Tuesday informed the
Israeli Forum for the Promotion of Equal Share in the Burden that they
would not be permitted to conduct a protest march in Bnei Brak planned
for Thursday, due to concerns that violent confrontations would erupt
with the city’s residents.
The Ramat Gan Police, which are also in charge of Bnei Brak, had already
given the forum and its partners, including bodies such Meretz, Hiddush
and the Kibbutz Movement, their consent to allow the march. The desire
to conduct the march, which aims to protest the fact that many haredim
do not share the burden of IDF service, preceded the recent developments
regarding the yeshiva student stipends.
A previous blow to the forum’s efforts came on Monday, when the student
organizations informed it that they would not be marching in Bnei Brak
so as not to appear anti-haredi.
The students are currently calling to improve their state funding, and
taking care not to vilify the haredi populace to promote that end.
An outraged spokesman for the forum slammed the police for their
“cowardly” decision to prohibit the march despite the organizers’
willingness to accommodate them by shifting the route and time of the
The spokesman told the Post
that the group would petition the High Court of Justice to force the
police to provide it the protection to march in the heart of Israel, as
it allowed extreme right-wing activists in Umm el-Fahm last week and
women’s rights groups in Mea Shearim recently.
If the petition is not dealt with in a timely fashion, the spokesman
continued, protesters will nonetheless arrive in Bnei Brak on Thursday
afternoon dressed in white shirts or army uniforms, expecting to be
barred from the haredi city by police.