Haredi protest 480 2.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
What Solomonic wisdom. I don’t often find myself using superlatives in
referencing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s attempts at conflict resolution
in our region, but his recent suggestion that we put an end to the discord
between the haredim and the rest of the population of Beit Shemesh by dividing
the city in two is simply stupendous.
Not only would redrawing the
municipal boundaries plainly eliminate any and every point of contention between
the two sides, but it would also set a precedent for solving all the other
problems plaguing Israel. This is one of those “Gee, why didn't anyone think of
this sooner?” moments. What a breakthrough.
Just consider the
No more waiting for the end of the peace process to discuss
Jerusalem. We can offer to cut it in half tomorrow and complete negotiations on
the other irritating details in no time.
No more discomforting studies
about the growing divide between Israel’s haves and have-nots. Those who don’t
have the wherewithal to make a decent wage can be separated from the rest of us,
eradicating those bothersome economic gaps we would otherwise have to contend
with were we living in a mixed society.
No more glass ceilings. Those
living below them can be informed once and for all that the floors above are
off-limits and that they should stop even thinking about ending up there. No
more pent-up frustration and an instant end to all that irritating
No more having to endure the sniveling of the physically
challenged. Move them all to a 100-percent wheelchair accessible corner of the
country and get rid of those exasperating handicapped-only parking places
everywhere else that prevent the rest of us from having reasonable access to
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No more gay parades on heterosexual avenues. Separate
territories for normal people and queers, who undoubtedly will be content to
dwell among their own in the bars and clubs assigned them.
parasites. One piece of real estate for those who believe God will protect them
and choose to enlist in the army of the Lord, and another for those who believe
God helps those who help themselves – or who, God forbid, don’t believe in God
at all – and are prepared to bear arms in their own defense.
disruptions of Holocaust Remembrance Day. Those who dress their children as
Hitler’s victims in a repulsive and disgraceful act of provocation could be
banished to ghettos to fend for themselves, segregated from those who choose
instead to honor the survivors.
In short, no more fretting over the
problems of a two-state solution. We’re talking multi-state here. One for the
hedonists among us with Tel Aviv as its capital, another for those who persist
in believing in coexistence with Haifa as its hub, a third governed out of Sde
Boker for die-hard Zionists who still believe in Ben-Gurion’s dream of making
the desert bloom and other assorted pioneering fairy tales, and a fourth for
those who would submit themselves to the rule of sundry rabbinical councils that
will be permitted to bicker incessantly over what the Torah really requires of
us, unencumbered by the annoyances of democracy.
After all, why work on
resolving conflicts when, with so much less effort, we can simply make them
disappear? Why demand that laws be enforced when it’s so much easier to create
territorial cloisters where they simply don’t apply? Separation has been part of
our tradition for as long as we’ve been proscribed from cooking kids in their
mothers’ milk. A people that has had to build its kitchens to accommodate four
sets of dishes should easily grasp the advantages of carving up our country into
Of course, doing so might be a bit easier if we were to excise
the teachings of Ezekiel from our holy writ. There I was, sitting in synagogue
this past Shabbat, all excited by the exquisite simplicity of our prime
minister’s ingenious proposition, when the words of the haftara intruded upon my
”Behold, I am going to take the children of Israel from among
the nations… and gather them from every quarter, and bring them to their own
land. I will make them a single nation in the land… and one king shall be king
of them all. Never again shall they be two nations, and never again shall they
be divided into two kingdoms.”
Indeed the time has come to draw a line in
Beit Shemesh, but not down the middle.
No, the line needs to be drawn on
this side of the law with a thick red marker and anyone who attempts to cross it
must be made to pay the consequences.
Ezekiel’s prophecy begins with the
parable of the valley of dry bones, the remnants of our people resurrected
through devotion to the divine spirit. But the national restoration that he
foretold – which we have been privileged beyond words to behold – will only be
fulfilled if we are able to come together as one people.
Take two sticks,
he was commanded, and on one of them inscribe the names of the tribes of the
northern kingdom and on the other the tribes of the southern kingdom. “Bring
them close to each other, so that they become one stick, joined together in your
Ezekiel’s homilies emphasize individual accountability and the
personal responsibility that each of us bears for the unity and well-being of
the collective. They are as relevant today at the beginning of our redemption as
they were 2,500 years ago at the beginning of our Exile. I can only hope that
they were read in the synagogues of Beit Shemesh with the same earnestness with
which they read in my congregation in Jerusalem.The writer is vice
chairman of the World Zionist Organization and a member of The Jewish Agency
Executive. The opinions expressed herein are his own.
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