Haredi op-ed proposes their own autonomous region

The article denounced in particular the national-religious Bayit Yehudi party for allying with Yesh Atid.

Sea of Haredim 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Sea of Haredim 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
An op-ed in the haredi newspaper Hamodia on Wednesday said in light of hostility towards the ultra- Orthodox community in Israeli society, an autonomous semi-sovereign entity should be created.
The article denounced in particular the national-religious Bayit Yehudi party for allying with Yesh Atid and for, according to the op-ed, seeking to allow “fictitious conversions, civil marriage and injury and interference with the haredi community.”
Hamodia is the official mouthpiece for the hassidic Agudat Yisrael haredi party, a constituent of the United Torah Judaism Knesset faction.
“If there is no change in direction in our favor then an option which must be considered, if there is no other choice, is to establish a Jewish autonomy in the Land of Israel,” wrote the author Yaakov Shmaonovitz.
“Autonomy means administrative and governmental independence for internal affairs without diplomatic sovereignty, with constitutional and economic independence, a police force [but] without an army and foreign policy.”
A spokesman for United Torah Judaism said to The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that the party did not agree with the article and it was not worth commenting on.
Shmaonovitz reasons that if haredim could establish the cities of Bnei Brak, Elad, Modi’in Illit, as well as the Laniado Medical Center in Netanya and the Ezer Mizion health support service then it could also establish the infrastructure of a self-governing entity.
The article said that a haredi autonomy would not need to “waste huge amounts of money” on sports, “strange culture” or drug rehabilitation centers.
The Hiddush religious-freedom lobbying group condemned the article, saying that it was yet another example of “the hostility that Agudat Yisrael demonstrates towards the State of Israel,” and the refusal of its leaders to bear the responsibility for the economic and security burdens of the state.
“The opposition and enmity of Hamodia is so great that it would prefer to divide the country into cantons instead of arriving at a reasonable arrangement for obligatory service,” said Hiddush director and Reform Rabbi Uri Regev.
In January 2012, then-MK Einat Wilf suggested that if there are communities unwilling to contribute to the Zionist foundations of the country, then a last resort could be to set them free to manage their affairs by themselves without the interference, or financial support, of the state.