Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man—Ezekiel 11:4
by Roy Tov
“Israel won’t be our home,” said Knesset Member Meir Porush from the United Torah Judaism party to French Ambassador Christophe Bigot while meeting in the Knesset on June 12, 2013.
It may sound as a joking remark. After all, Netanyahu’s Likud made an alliance with Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu and is now known as “Likud—Beiteinu,” Likud—Our Home. Moreover, Naftali Bennett—key partner in the Israeli government— leads The Jewish Home, a religious Zionist party.* The phrase “Israel Won’t Be Our Home” mocks and repudiates both parties.
“It could have been a joke, he refers to their having been left out of the current coalition” mumbled Bennett while trying to put back in place his falling skullcap; “nothing to attach it to,” he added, softly caressing his skull. Yet, Porush was deadly serious.
“Tinofet, why do you protect Ultra-Orthodox Jews!”
Zionists never approach me honestly. More often than not, I discover their hidden allegiance only after a few emails are exchanged between us.
More often than not, they complain about my consistent defense of Ultra-Orthodox Jews attacked by Zionists (for example, Holy Cows).
In their limited, partisan worldview, they think to have an unbeatable point against me. “The entire world is against us,” is their favorite adage.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews won’t speak with me. After my conversion to Christianity, I have died to them. People like me are called by them “mityavnim” (“they-who-became-Greek,” “Greek” is a euphemism for “Christian”). That’s the softest insult. “Meshumadim” (“utterly destroyed”) is their favorite.
“Thus, my dear ‘meshumad,’ why do you protect them,” the secular inquisitor keeps beating me, ignoring my public criticism of Ultra-Orthodox Judaism.
Natan Zehavi is a popular radio anchor. He won several prizes and is known for his wild tongue. He is the epitome of Jewishsecular-humanism; his figures of speech reflect this segment of the Israeli society and are often willing adopted by those “hyrax-eaters.”**
In February 2012, Israel’s Second Authority for Television and Radio,*** announced administrative steps against Zehavi after a stronger-than-usual remark. He disliked what an Ultra-Orthodox Jew told him live during his show. Live, Zehavi answered: “May a Death of Firstborn Plague hit you! May ten foreign workers rape you!”
This was not good enough—after all most of his secular listeners wouldn’t enjoy the Biblical references—thus he ended his enlightened, humanist speech, by calling the Ultra-Orthodox Jew “tinofet,” (“dirt,” “little dirt”).
A “tinofet” myself, this “utterly destroyed” speaker favors the slightly more civilized group. My apologies, Mr. Bennett. Take care; your skullcap is falling again.
“Israel Won’t Be Our Home”
Porush was deadly serious while uttering these words. He didn’t say them to a colleague in the Knesset cafeteria during a break. He told them in his office during a formal encounter with an important member of the international community in Israel.
He said that only days after that on May 29, 2013, Israel’s Ministers Legislation Committee+ approved the new Conscription Law, which enforces the draft of Ultra-Orthodox Jews, the bulk of whom are Haredim,++ in unacceptable terms.
The new law is racist. Israel is imposing an inverse Numerus Clausus on Haredim. The Latin phrase for “closed number” was used many times in history to limit the number of Jewish students in universities. The new law introduces a malevolent twist in this discriminatory device.
According to the new law, everybody will be forced to reach the conscription office at age 17; failure to do that would be a criminal offence. Ultra-Orthodox Jews (Haredim and Hasidim) will get a delay in their service until they are 21. Out of the 8,000 Ultra-Orthodox Jews about to be recruited every year, 1,800 of them who have proven to be “persistent in their studies,” i.e. they haven’t dropped from the Yeshiva Jewish college, will be awarded a permanent release from service. The IDF will be given preference upon the others; if rejected by the IDF, they would go other State services.
Until now, the law looks reasonable. However, it included an inverse racial quota to the Heads of Yeshiva Colleges. If their colleges would fail to supply a given quota of conscripts, they would be financially sanctioned by the State, which would cut their budgets as per the percentage of failure. Heads of Yeshiva Colleges would have personal responsibility to give yearly reports to the State on their “harvest.” Could you imagine Germany passing such a law?
Interlude: Zehavi Reacts
One of the key Haredi statements following the death of ultra-fanatic humanist-writer Yoram Kaniuk was by Knesset Member Israel Eichler (also from United Torah Judaism) who denounced the eulogy published by the Minister of Culture. Natan Zehavi attacked Eichler today through his radio program; his hateful words help to understand the Ultra-Orthodox position towards Zionists:
“Compared with you, Kaniok was a great man! A giant! You are a cultural dwarf, a creature without a spine, a free-eater, a contemptible, an Israel disturber, not of Judaism (“Israel Disturber” is a Hebrew idiom for Jew hater), you are a State of Israel disturber…” Zehavi continued his live tirade for what here would amount to two long paragraphs. I translated the beginning, when Zehavi was still relatively polite. Afterwards, things got really ugly.
Eichler announced that he will sue Zehavi, but he knows that secular Israeli courts will invariably protect the blasphemer.
Israel is not a Home
At this stage most readers would perfectly understand how Ultra-Orthodox Jews feel. The State has used them, betrayed them, and now is abandoning them. If that weren’t enough, they are being openly insulted by the hyrax-eaters.
Knesset Member Porush made sure that his words to the French Ambassador would be published. Channel 7 complied. He made a historical review of the Zionist’s commitment to respect Ultra-Orthodox Judaism. He emphasized words of Ben Gurion and said that he has repeated this to President Peres in a meeting last week. Then he concluded:
“If, God forbid, they will try to forcefully conscript those who study Torah, this will not be the National House. We will declare, and the entire world will know, that the State of Israel is not the house of those who keep the Torah and obey its teachings. This will have far-reaching consequences.”
Netanyahu, you hyrax-eater, you Messiah’s Donkey,* beware. The State of Israel exists not because of your Zionist-Religious party. The State of Israel exists not because of the astonishing blaspheming capabilities of Zionist freaks like Mr. Zehavi. The State of Israel exists not because of your espionage capabilities. The State of Israel exists not because of your stealing of military technologies. The State of Israel exists not because of your illegitimate harassment and maiming of political opponents. The State exists because those calling themselves the Jewish People accept and support it.
With every additional blasphemy you commit and utter, the Jewish Orthodoxy gets more convinced that you are not the Messiah’s Donkey, but a sterile mule. Bibi, if you lose Jewish support, not even the USA will save your violent, malevolent fiefdom of evil. As Zionists like to say: “and better one hour earlier.”
* The Jewish Home was founded in 2008 over the hot ashes of the National Religious Party (Mafdal). It became the home of Religious Zionism. Likud and Labor are nationalistic and secular parties. Haredi parties are religious and non-nationalistic or slightly nationalistic. For many years, the National Religious Party was the bridge allowing the unholy alliance between Zionism and ultra-Orthodox Judaism. Their most visible characteristic is a “Kipah Sruga” (“handwoven skullcap”) hat as opposed to the black one used by the Haredim and Hasidim. In the 2009 elections, they got just three seats as compared to the twelve the National Religious Party got at its peak, when it was a compulsory part of every coalition. Overall, it seemed that the Jewish Home was the final breaths of the National Religious Party; nobody considered it a significant part of the Israeli political map. That is, until now. Most of the votes leaving Netanyahu went to Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish Home, who after making an alliance with Yesh Atid, the second largest party, became a key member in Netanyahu’s coalition.
The actual political map in Israel wouldn’t have been possible during the 19th century in any Jewish settlement. Israeli governments are composed of coalitions between Zionist groups (led by the Labor or the Likud – Kadima enters in the same category) and Orthodox parties. The last are bound to the Talmud and are waiting to religious redemption via a Messiah, practicing Pharisaic interpretations of the Bible. Jewish redemption is far from the Spiritual Redemption professed by Christians. Jews do expect a physical redemption based on a Godly Kingdom in the Land of Israel. All the religious interpretations until the 19th Century didn’t leave any place to a Zionist party rushing to conquer Arab lands. That was the role of a future Messiah. Thus, any cooperation between Zionists and Orthodox Jews was impossible. Then a Maoist-styled Giant Leap Forward took place and things changed. Traditionally, the Jewish Orthodoxy believed that the abovementioned redemption would arrive in two stages. The early stage is called “Messiah Son of Joseph,” and would include the physical stages of bringing the Jewish people together; this stage is symbolized by a bull. The second stage is the “Messiah Son of David,” when a spiritual Messiah would restore the Kingdom of God. This stage is symbolized by a donkey; Christian readers would immediately recognize Jesus triumphal entry to Jerusalem riding one (John 12:12-16). In the 19th Century, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, was one of the Orthodox Jews who created the base for cooperation between Zionists and Pharisees.
What he did was simple, and is known as “Hamoro shel Mashiah” (“Messiah’s Donkey” in Hebrew). He claimed the secular Jews (i.e. the Zionists) can take the place of “Messiah Son of Joseph” as a collective entity, creating the base that would allow the Pharisees – the Orthodox Jews – to produce the “Messiah Son of David” in the new and secular state.
It worked. The political alliance produced a state accepted by most Jews. Neturei Karta is one of the few Jewish groups that do not accept this unholy contraption. The state lavishly supports its Yeshivas – the Orthodox colleges. A social result was the creation of the “hand-woven kippah” group, also known in Hebrew as “Zionist-Religious,” to whom most settlers in the West Bank belong.
** Hyrax is a non-kosher animal; thus “hyrax-eater” is a Hebrew idiom for “pagan.” “Ochel-Shfanim” in Hebrew, “ch” like in “loch,” hyrax is in plural-possessive form.
*** The Authority for Television and Radio runs State broadcasts which are non-commercial in nature. In 1990, the Second Authority for Television and Radio was created in order to run commercial broadcasts.
+ The Ministers’ Legislation Committee (va’adat hasarim lehakika) is responsible for approving bills prepared by the government ministries before they are brought to the Knesset’s General Assembly. Once the latter approves them, they become law. Private bills proposed by MK’s also are submitted to the committee’s review. Thus, this is the State’s legislative crossroads. Control it, and you control the State’s clockwork (see Knesset Legislation Committee Moves Naziwards).
++ Ultra-Orthodox Judaism is composed of two main groups. For unknown reasons, both Haredim and Hasidim favor clothes that were fashionable in the 17th Century Eastern Europe. Even their Mizrahi and Sephardic members dress in such a way. Not only does that make little sense in the hot summers of the Holy Land, but it also makes differentiating between these two groups a Herculean task (please forgive my Greek digression). Yet, they differ in their interpretation of Judaism more than Catholic and Evangelic groups do in Christianity.
“Haredim” owe their name to Prophet Isaiah: “Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word” (Isaiah 66:5). The Hebrew word “harada” means “fearful,” “anxious.” Thus Haredim are those who fear the word of God and thus are the more legalistic followers of the Jewish religion. Yet, they do not base themselves on the Bible for their observance of the law, but mainly on interpretations appearing in the Talmud and related literature. They are also known as “ultra-Orthodox Jews.” Within this large group, there is an important subdivision. There are “Haredim” and “Lithuanian Haredim,” the last belong to groups linked to the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
None of these groups is Zionist. They do not consider the existence of the State of Israel as essential or having a special theological meaning.
United Torah Judaism is a loose alliance between Haredi Agudat Yisrael and Hasidic Degel HaTorah.