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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Burning Down The House

Seems everyone is talking about the riots going on in Israel. One moment a certain element was rioting about this, and the next thing they were rioting about that. Personally, I don't think they really care about what they are rioting about, although some of the issues provide an excuse of sorts.

It seems that most are at least somewhat surprised by the events on late. I am well aware that many of these acts are not new, but the scope seems larger and many are concerned and want to see change NOW! Some are calling for boycotts of Eida certified products, others are trying to get gedolim to speak out.

While I am enraged and saddened by the pictures of young men being egged on by older men and young children (!) burning down the neighborhood, destroying property, and creating a living hell for innocent residents and passerby, I have to say that the behavior simply does not shock me any longer. In fact, I've come to expect it just as I expect a few police cars to be torched and overturned if/when the Lakers or Raiders win a championship. (Although I don't expect any Kobe to step in and take their personal funds to replace the damaged equipment).

Wait a second, did she just say that she expects this behavior from any Yid? Has SL fallen off her rocker? (Perhaps). Yes, you hear me correctly, this behavior no longer surprises me (it did at one time). In fact, I find it (at least somewhat) predictable and a result of a failed experiment cracking for all to see. I'm sure an aspiring cultural/behavioral economist or economic sociologist could write an fascinating dissertation on the subject.

Aimlessness + underemployment + poverty + dependency on government and tzedakah + a one-size-fits-few education system + children raised in herds (the most disturbing pictures to me are pictures of young boys out watching the festivities with nary a mother in sight) + a weakened family unit + overseas teenage and post-teenage boys with little supervision thrown into the mix + "the man" [state] who is out to get them + close living quarters + lack of strong leadership (this Rabbinic statement certainly wasn't unequivocal or forceful) + lack of accountability (the government might deport the overseas trouble makers and they have finally decided to file civil suit again the vandals. . if this happened in America I have no doubt police would have went in in riot gear) = a likely potential for a subculture to destroy itself from within. And that is what we are witnessing.

Years ago, I think I viewed Orthodox Jews from left to right as part of a continuum, the speed of media and the images make it rather clear that much of the affinity is perceived. It might be a terrible thing to state during the three weeks, but I don't feel as there is much in common between my community, or most other American Orthodox communities for that matter, and the Mea Shearim community.

But, saying that wouldn't be fair either. It is clear when you read comments on any VIN article (or YWN article, although that "new source" basically steers clear of most articles that put the Yeshivish/Chassidish community in a bad light) that the concept of dan l'chaf zechut, an important concept indeed, can be used to excuse nearly any behavior. And, not just excuse it, but even glorify it. Sometimes I think to myself, do you have to be accused of abuse to be labeled a selfless tzadekes or be accused of money laundering or fraud to be labeled a true tzadik, someone with a great helech in olam haba? And lest you think that it is only VIN or YWN commentators that can twist themselves into a pretzel, have a bochur over and you might be surprised just how a neighborhood boy can take a behavior that a simpleton like me views as unquestionable wrong and it becomes not only permissible, but even a kiddush Hashem.

To round off this post, I think that many of the underlying factors that can cause a subculture to degenerate to the point of destroying their own neighborhood. We have a bit more balance here, although plenty of the pieces of the equation are contributing to issues here at home, but the fact that one can expect a riot over nearly anything should give one pause.

Add your comments. Is bad behavior something you have come to expect, or are you surprised?

35 comments:

Lion of Zion said...

if we include stoning drivers on shabbat (i.e., attempted murder), then this activity has been going since at least the 1980s. why should one be surprised today?

tesyaa said...

Agree with LoZ (as usual), but to take it a step further, it's more disillusioning now because of the Internet. The news is 24/7 and it's available everywhere. What one could dismiss as extremist or an exception back in the 1980s is now sadly, obviously, part of a trend.

Menachem Lipkin said...

As someone who lives in Beit Shemesh on the border of Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet I can honestly say that I'd be surprised if they DIDN'T react this way.

I totally agree with those that are calling for a boycott of the Edah Chareidit. This is terrorism pure and simple. And it must be stopped.

Miami Al said...

It doesn't shock me at all. Remember the Rodney King Riots? The media whipped everyone up into a frenzy with a carefully edited video (they repeatedly showed the policy taking Mr. King down, they didn't show when he charged the police and they had to subdue him). When the jury released a result they didn't like, they burnt the city down.

The chassidic community in 2009 looks like the black community from the 1990s... large families without parenting, absentee fathers (the father may legally live in the home, but they don't provide for their children or parent them), and an out of control insular culture of victimization.

The American Chareidi rabbinate is following in their footsteps as well, since the year of indoctrination is so critical to development. The Chareidi world is heading off a cultural cliff AND economic cliff, and the MO world is following them off the cliff.

I honestly don't see the point of Yeshiva education at this point. Clearly those most focused on learning are the worst human beings and Jews, so it's quite clear to me that the Yeshiva is a bad institution that turns Jews into looters, vandals, and frauds. The Daf Yomi focused businessmen generally seem upstanding, so clearly some degree of Torah learning can make one a better person, but full time Yeshiva education clearly leads to sinfulness.

Since the Rabbis that teach in the MO Day Schools are largely Chareidi, one should realize that enrolling your children in Day School puts them under the influence of this clearly negative part of the Jewish world.

If you want to preserve your children's Jewish souls, you clearly have to protect them from the Yeshiva/Day School world. Sad...

G*3 said...

I would add to your list of causes an inability to issues in anything other than black and white; a conviction that anyone who disagrees with the community’s point of view are rishaim out to destroy frumkeit; a conviction that those who stand up to rishaim are making a Kiddush Hashem (perhaps even in the original sense of bring persecuted/killed for their beliefs); and a tradition of tzaddikim who were persecuted by anti-Semetic governments in Eastern Europe. All of which adds up to opposing any perceived infringement on their community being seen as doing God’s work.

ProfK said...

There is a difference between the MO and the Chareidi world when it comes to following orders "from above." The Chareidim have more of a group mentality, with individual thinking not encouraged, not allowed.

Harry has a copy of the film "The Wave" up, and what happened there and why answers some of the questions asked here. http://ayeshivishharry.blogspot.com/

SephardiLady said...

Menachem Lipkin-Thanks for visiting. Beyond a boycott (my money stays local and I buy American products where he Eida heksher isn' present), what is/can be done to try to take some of these boys and integrate them into a more mainstream society?

It seems that Israel has a civil war on its hands. The rioting segment of societ appears to be becoming more militant. It is obviously sizable and powerful. I can't imagine a similar.

I hope that a boycott can starve such an element out, but I think that ultimately some of the underlying factors need to be changed.

Anonymous said...

SL: I agree. However, trying to change some of the underlying factors is going to produce more mayhem. The best way to change things is through education. There should be mandatory curricula that includes enough knowledge and skills to get a job or go on to higher education, tolerance and respect for others and critical thinking skills. (IMHO failing to do so is a form of child abuse.) Can you imagine trying to impose that? It will make the busing in Boston in the 1960's (or was it the 70's) look like a party.

Miami Al said...

Adding job skills helps the poverty, but not the outlook. Forcibly give them a liberal arts education. They need an education that challenges their world view... I don't want to forcibly change them, but being forced to learn other viewpoints can strengthen their practice while weakening the racism/xenophobia that dominates their culture.

Failure to assimilate them into mainstream Israeli culture and Israel will be facing two fifth columns of disloyal citizens. The anti-zionism will keep getting more militant, until they are prepared to fight against the state.

G*3 said...

> There should be mandatory curricula that includes enough knowledge and skills to get a job or go on to higher education, tolerance and respect for others and critical thinking skills.

There should be, but can you imagine the reaction? To start, they’ll cite the yeshiva (was it Volozhin?) that was closd down rather than teach secular subjects. They would see it as an attack on their way of life by secularists. And they would right.

Respect for others implies that they are people who matter and that they might have something worthwhile to contribute to society. Critical thinking skills are just dangerous. A Chassidishe guy I know told me while in his first semester in college that it was a good approach to take when dealing with people, but it would be terrible if people applied it to yiddishkeit rather than having emunah peshutah.

Ahavah Gayle said...

Everyone who has posted so far is correct - the problem started way back in dayschool for this generation and they are essentially brainwashed into a racist supremicist mentality coupled with a paranoid delusion of persecution. The Ravs have a deep fear of secular and academic education not because they think today's Jewish kids are somehow dumber than those of their grandparents generation (who went to public schools and somehow managed to stay Jewish anyway), but rather because doing to challenges the Ravs power and authority and leadership.

The Chereidi communities are in the collapse stage of economic decline - it would be a lot more obvious if it weren't for the infusions of charity from Modern and non-orthodox Jews who give to such funds for sentimental or guilt reasons. Those donations, however, are beginning to decline (publicity is a big cause - which is another reason the Ravs don't want it).

But the current generation of UO kids are absolutely incapable of functioning as self-sufficient decision-making adults and it will take literal anti-cult de-programming to rewrite all of the garbage that has been put into their heads.

Frankly, I have serious doubts anything less than widespread forced secular education for all elementary age kids and de-programming for jr. high and high school age kids would actually help. And of course, their parents would burn down the city before they'd allow the kids to learn science, geo-politics, sociology, history, and economics. That stuff comes from "the devil," not from Torah.

As someone else mentioned, they don't want people to think for themselves. I would add that their little fiefdoms depend on people not thinking for themselves. And if you try and think for yourself, some thug will come slash your tires (or worse) to remind you not to.

Anonymous said...

If these were kids trapped in the old Soviet Union or present day Iran instead of an extremely insular community in Israel, what would do for them to try to get them out and get them some education to help themselves and teach them "normal" yiddishkeit? Do we owe anything to these jewish kids even at the risk of provoking more riots or is it none of our business?

ora said...

It saddens me to see people talking about all hareidim in Israel, or even every yeshiva (!!!) as part of the problem.

There are hareidim living all over the country. There are huge hareidi communities in Tzfat, in Kiryat Sefer, Beitar, Bnei Brak, the non-Mea Shearim neighborhoods of Jerusalem (Har Nof, Ramot, Sanhedria, etc). NONE had protests. These protests are only happening in two Jerusalem neighborhoods and a single street of Ramat Beit Shemesh.

So yes, it's awful (and to answer the original question, no, I'm not surprised), but let's not overstate things. This is one specific group that hates the state and has always hated the state (the family in which the mother was accused of abuse, btw, is from Israel, but does not speak Hebrew -- these are the hardcore anti-Zionists we're talking about). Even in Mea Shearim there are many people who do not agree with what's happening, and I've heard of multiple yeshivot that have been very firm on preventing students from taking part in the riots in any way.

There are many people who justify what's going on, and that does disturb me. It's a knee jerk reaction, to support one's own "side." In general, I've seen it among the young - it seems that older people for the most part can accept that even their "side" has problems.

While I agree with the factors listed here for the most part, I think it's important to note that there are communities with very similar factors that aren't involved (eg, others living in Mea Shearim). So there's more to it, IMO...

Also, there's one very important factor that was left out: it's summer. Vacation time (even if the yeshivot are technically not on break), and nothing else to do.

Anonymous said...

>>>Beyond a boycott (my money stays local and I buy American products where he Eida heksher isn' present)

Would you suggest that in response to breaches of tzniyus or proper respect for Shabbos that can be observed in many who attend MO shuls and schools that we boycott the OU, YU, etc? I think not. R' Moshe Shternbruch has already written a letter condemning the protests, and I doubt R' Tuvya Weiss is behind them. So why do you blame the Badatz leadership, which has distanced itself from these people, for the mob action?

SephardiLady said...

Ora, you make an important point that these are hard core anti zionists. But plenty of others seem to be participating.

No matter the scope, I see this is as an important national security issue for Israel. The government seems to be content cutting off some social services and threatening civil suits. I guess a stronger approach would be perfectly fine with me. I doubt it would go over with the apologists that exist in mainstream and more rw yeshivish communities amongst us, to say nothing of chassidish communities.

SephardiLady said...

I don't blame the Badatz. I'm just reporting what people are doing in response. I'm not doing anything. I don't have any support to pull.

I am undecided if a boycott makes sense. I'm not sure that you can starve out the underlying factors anymore than you can starve out extremism amongst other groups.

But I do think that having an enemy of the state within the state (and riots that cause property destruction certainly qualifying in my book even if no one has been seriously injured or killed yet ch"v) is a national security concern. As such, I support many of the efforts of the state to introduce a required curriculum. Greater economic prosperity would likely bring improvements.

Anonymous said...

Food for thought - If you live in a MO American community, ask the next Mishluchim from Israel if their yeshiva says Tachnun on Yom Haatzmut. Then give accordingly.

ora said...

This is also an Israeli vs. American cultural thing. Demonstrations, including those involving civil disobedience and property destruction, are much more common here (we're not alone in this, btw - it's much more common in Europe + the rest of the Middle East as well).

Protestors calling for the release of Gilad Shalit have blocked traffic and forcibly prevented family visit days at prisons... demonstrations calling for better security in Sderot have included burning tires across the highway... when the municipalities planned a protest recently, they were going to block traffic... etc. Throwing rocks and fighting police is more extreme, but again, is not at all unique to hareidim, or even to "extremists" (again an example -- students fought police last year during demos against a hike in university tuition. Average, non-religious university students.).

So basically, the state can't go too far in cracking down on this kind of behavior, because if it did, there would be a huge list of people to punish. And they would have to forcibly change the curriculum at almost 50% of the nation's schools (in the Arab, Bedouin, Hareidi, and more right-wing religious Zionist sectors) (and what would they change them into? to be more like the public schools? let's not even get into those... some of them make riots in Geula look like a welcoming parade).

Even if the government decided to focus only on the anti-Zionist hareidim, there would be a lot of people getting very nervous at the thought that they would be next in line.

And perhaps more importantly, the state has bigger problems. There are Arab clans fighting with sub-machine guns elsewhere in Jerusalem, mafia wars in Netanya, honor murders in Ramle... the hareidim are hardly the biggest danger out there. While they may be the most likely to create anti-religious sentiment, that's hardly the government's concern.

None of this is meant to excuse the riots. Obviously, the fact that Arab families in Silwan are doing worse doesn't make it OK. I'm just trying to explain why what looks like a big deal in America isn't really top concern over here.

It's kind of similar to how in America, you can have big riots after sports games with lots of property damage, and everyone just kind of shrugs and moves on. It's not that it's OK -- it's just that it's not worth the effort it would change to prosecute everyone involved (or to forcibly re-educate their children), and there are bigger fish to fry.

ora said...

Also, my point wasn't that it's only hardcore anti-Zionists (I don't know if that's true or not), just that there are many many people who AREN'T participating. Let's not lose sight of that.

Someone mentioned the Rodney King riots -- so to me, blaming "Israeli hareidim" for the Geula riots would be like blaming a black American in Miami for the Rodney King riots. It's just absurd. Many Israeli hareidim are very much against the riots.

Anonymous said...

Ora said "It's kind of similar to how in America, you can have big riots after sports games with lots of property damage, and everyone just kind of shrugs and moves on. It's not that it's OK -- it's just that it's not worth the effort it would change to prosecute everyone involved (or to forcibly re-educate their children), and there are bigger fish to fry."

I disagree with the analogy to the sports riots in the U.S. They are generally spontaneous events by drunk teenagers and college kids. They end quickly and are roundly condemned by all. No one tries to justify them, let alone justify them with grand conspiracy theories. There also are prosecutions. If they were more frequent or more extensive, I'm sure we would see the national guard and many more arrests and there would be broad support for a crackdown.

Miami Al said...

Ora, the post-sports events riots are only in a few cities, and we don't shrug our shoulders and move on, those cities that can't contain them usually reevaluate their riot response mechanisms.

Did the Black community "take the blame" for the LA Riots? Absolutely not. Did the black community as a whole have to address urban rot? Absolutely. The out of control inner cities led to the election of law-and-order mayors in cities across the country, a new urban focused policy in the Clinton White House, training National Guardsmen to support anti-riot efforts.

The response to Hurricane Wilma by local officials (ignoring the national FEMA screw-up, start with the first 72 hours of local screw ups), people started looting for food because the New Orleans city government didn't stock shelters or train people in disaster preparation. The National Guard was out, bridges were patrolled, sections were locked down. The PC Media screamed and yelled that the mostly white suburbs were stopping the mostly black NO residents from crossing bridges, but the looting was NOT allowed to turn into rioting.

Our "sports riots" are usually small, contained to a small area, and quickly bring out the riot police. When I was in Boston when the Patriots one their first Super Bowl it was amazing to see how quickly the police were out in party areas. Revelry was permitted, but as soon as property was destroyed, people were arrested. Was there damage, of course. Was a section of the city denied social services, absolutely not. A handful of cars were damaged and a few street signs were ripped down (people climbing up and jumping on them)... inexcusable, but hardly comparable.

Anonymous said...

As has been pointed out, there are Chassidic groups in Israel and elsewhere wearing similar garb and also living insular lives who do not engage in antisocial violence. It boils down---not to liberal arts education and not to Zionism---but to responsible leadership or the lack of it.

For eample, why did the Sanzer Chassidim in Netanya build a beautiful hospital for all? Leadership.

Anonymous said...

>>>If you live in a MO American community, ask the next Mishluchim from Israel if their yeshiva says Tachnun on Yom Haatzmut.

Would you like to be asked about your religious practices next time you stop by a Chabad house in some far flung location and need a minyan or a kosher meal? Or next time you are in a hospital in NY and take advantage of the bikur cholim supplies given freely to all by Satmar? Do you also want to verify whether your local mikvah was built in consultation with chassidic poskim, whether the educators in your children's yeshiva learned in the local non-YU kollel, whether the sofer who wrote your tefillin was chareidi and whether you meat is chassidishe shechita?

Anonymous said...

"Every year the Rav would donate $500 from the charity fund he was appointed to allocate, to the leaders of the Neturei Karta. This is not to say the Rav agreed with the group's political positions, be he believed that their survival was essential..."

p. 78, "Mentor of Generations", by Zev Elaff

http://books.google.com/books?id=sa06PAem-SgC&pg=PA78&lpg=PA78&dq=soloveitchik+charity+neturei&source=bl&ots=MZvxM_awP1&sig=vImm32mEdbjYjnq2ZColzmlgZew&hl=en&ei=HdNlSs7pJ4f8MaWo7IYL&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1

SephardiLady said...

Another predictable riot is when the WTO comes to town. I realize I will never understand Israeli politics. If this happened in a US city, it would have been shut down far quicker and there would be few apologists.

Avi said...

Miami Al wrote:

I honestly don't see the point of Yeshiva education at this point. Clearly those most focused on learning are the worst human beings and Jews, so it's quite clear to me that the Yeshiva is a bad institution that turns Jews into looters, vandals, and frauds. The Daf Yomi focused businessmen generally seem upstanding, so clearly some degree of Torah learning can make one a better person, but full time Yeshiva education clearly leads to sinfulness.

Since the Rabbis that teach in the MO Day Schools are largely Chareidi, one should realize that enrolling your children in Day School puts them under the influence of this clearly negative part of the Jewish world.

If you want to preserve your children's Jewish souls, you clearly have to protect them from the Yeshiva/Day School world. Sad...


WHAT? I went to semi-RW MO Yeshivot for years, and I'm currently sending my kids to similar schools. Yes, some of the Rabbeim are definitely more RW than I am. This concerns me, but my primary issue is not rioting, rishut, or even racism - I got none of that growing up, and my kids aren't either. OK, maybe we got a bit of pro-semitic racism, that Jews are holy and goyim are ...not.

But my primary concern is that the RW Rabbeim don't make a clear enough distinction between pshat and drash. My secondary concern is that there is a strong emphasis on middot in the school, but still too much time spent on bein adam lamakom vs bein adam lichaveiro. And my pet peeve is that some of the RW Rabbeim add a "yud" into words that don't have "yuds" as if they were a first generation Lithuanian immigrant - and there's no actual Lithuanian blood in most of these guys. I have a problem with The Midrash Says. I have a problem with the over-emphasis of gemara and de-emphasis of practical living skills (finance, research skills, conflict resolution). But I absolutely disagree with your notion that learning Torah - and teaching it to our children - is ruining their souls somehow. Far from it! I'm killing myself and spending a Porsche a year on it because it is so valuable.

SephardiLady said...

Thank you Avi. I think there is some need for adjustment, but the yeshivot where I live certainly are dangerous.

Avi said...

SL, if the Yeshivot in your area are dangerous, then there's a simple solution to the tuition crisis, isn't there? Stop sending kids to yeshiva. Poof! Crisis solved!

Anonymous said...

SL: What's WTO?

ora said...

"As has been pointed out, there are Chassidic groups in Israel and elsewhere wearing similar garb and also living insular lives who do not engage in antisocial violence. It boils down---not to liberal arts education and not to Zionism---but to responsible leadership or the lack of it."

I very much agree with this.

There are chassidic groups in the same neighborhood with the same clothing who aren't taking part in this.

And Miami Al, not to understate the Meah Shearim riots, but I doubt the total damage/injuries toll is much higher than a smallish riot in the states. Certainly nowhere near the Rodney King riots (for example) in scale.

In any case, my point wasn't that sports riots are accepted. Just that most Americans wouldn't react to one by saying that the rioters are a danger to American society, or that they need forcible reeducation, or that they should all be expelled from the country, or that public schools endanger our children's souls... etc. The rioters are criminals who should be punished (as happens there, and as will happen here), but they aren't #1 THREAT TO SOCIETY OH NOES.

(And let's say for argument's sake that they ARE plotting civil war -- how is that a threat? A couple thousand guys with dirty diapers and burning garbage vs. an entire army and police force with guns, tanks, and nuclear bombs... I think the state of Israel will survive.)

SephardiLady said...

WTO=World Trade Organization.
http://search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt=A0geu5F5QWZKnoMAOURXNyoA?p=WTO+Riots+pictures&fr=slv8-msgr&fr2=sb-top&sao=1

The link is for WTO riot pictures. I think there are pictures from 1999 Seattle and Hong Kong.

The second video down "Battle in Seattle" has some riot pics including a dumpster on file of all things.

Anonymous said...

Ora: Unfortunately, I do fear that the deep schisms in Israeli society among different groups do represent a danger to Israel. Israel has so many external enemies that it needs some internal cohesion and shared values. It also needs for everyone to be pulling their weight.

Anonymous said...

SL: Thanks for the WTO definition. I had brain freeze and was trying to figure out if WTO was a yiddish accronym.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Why are there no riots like this in Bnei Brak?

Because only a very small subculture of Jerusalem Chareidim are like this. In general, Chareidim in Israel are anti-violence.

The violence is not in the Eida Chareidit. Its in Neturay Karta...Toldos Aharon...and other small subsects (I wouldnt even put Satmar in the same group).

wrpn said...

Well said SL. I agree totally.