‘I TURN to the leaders of the Haredi public with a plea – don’t lead us down the path to civil strife and don’t turn the Israeli people against each other.’.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
We’re all brothers. This isn’t just a stale phrase that we learned in Hebrew class in elementary school – “All Jews are responsible for one another.”
It’s reality, as our ancestors learned to their sorrow in the Diaspora. The Jewish nation is above all one nation, despite its multitude of factions and sects.I respect and appreciate the Haredi community, as does the majority of the Israeli public.
Most of us have warm feelings for Judaism and the traditions of Israel, hold its holy places in reverence, mark its holidays and festivals, attend synagogue on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur and hang mezuzahs in our doorways.
That’s how we grew up and were educated.
Even those among us who maintain no connection with the Jewish religion still respect the faith of the Haredim, and will agree to struggle and fight for the right of every Jew to live his life according to his beliefs. This is part of the democratic worldview that we have the privilege to uphold here, in a way that is not to be taken for granted, in this little patch of our historic homeland.
Yet just as we have no desire to harm or hinder the Haredi way of life, we are not interested in and do not agree to any infringement upon our way of life by them.
The State of Israel is the national state of the Jewish people. That is what I believe. It is Jewish in the national sense, not the religious.
Thus it was designed at its creation, and thus it must remain: a country whose characteristics, symbols and traditions are based on those of the Jewish people; not a state run according to religious jurisprudence as determined by Haredi rabbis, wise and learned as they may be.
I turn to the leaders of the Haredi public with a plea: Don’t lead us down the path to civil strife and don’t turn the Israeli people against one another. You are marching down a dangerous road, which will lead, God forbid, to a clash between segments of society.
The secular and secular-traditional public won’t sit idly by while you apply pressure to enact a total ban on railway maintenance work on Shabbat, while public transportation is already out of service on Shabbat due to your influence.
Just as we don’t force our views concerning Shabbat on Haredi neighborhoods across the country, don’t involve yourselves in our way of life in secular cities and neighborhoods. Just as you don’t wish to have secularism forced upon you, we have no interest in forced religion.
Keep your hands off our Shabbat! We’re allowed to go to the beach and sit in the park, or at a cafe, or a restaurant, or to go to a movie or go shopping. It doesn’t hurt you in any way. It’s the concern of the secular public, and you shouldn’t interfere.
I believe that we haven’t yet passed the point of no return. I believe that the Haredi leaders can still decide to change direction, to understand that protecting the social cohesion of Israel is a more important mitzva, or commandment, because that is what safeguards the rebirth of the Jewish nation in its land and the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and a light unto the nations.The writer is a member of the Likud Party Central Committee and the founder and chairman of the Oz Zionist Foundation.