Will Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Continue to See Themselves as a People Apart?

Although David Ben-Gurion envisioned the Jewish state as a melting pot, with ingathered exiles merging together into a common Labor-Zionist culture, today’s increasingly conventional wisdom envisions a pluralistic society comprising various “tribes.” This view, as Yehoshua Pfeffer puts it, imagines “Arab sheikhs sitting side by side with ḥaredi scholars, feminist women next to settlers, and LGBT activists sharing a table with ḥasidic rabbis.” Yet Ḥaredim, even as they benefit from this multicultural arrangement, don’t subscribe to its underlying liberal assumptions. And that might be a good thing, Pfeffer argues:

Will Ḥaredim imitate Israel’s Arab parties, seeing the majority as an oppressive hegemony bent on silencing their voice and pushing them aside, or will they adopt a mindset of national and civil responsibility, without giving up communal independence and the unique ḥaredi lifestyle? . . .

On the one hand, there are built-in tensions between the ḥaredi worldview and [both] Israeli nationalism . . . and liberal culture. These tensions and differences lead some ḥaredi sub-groups to utilize the strategies of other minorities, identifying as one of Israel’s “tribes” and speaking the language of multiculturalism and minority rights.

On the other hand, ḥaredi society holds a profound faith that the Jewish people is a single entity with one common goal. These feelings of fraternity are deeply rooted in Jewish tradition. The average ḥaredi person cares deeply about all parts of Israeli society, and strongly identifies with the state of Israel as the national representative of the Jewish people. . . . Skimming through any ḥaredi newspaper reveals a large measure of pride in Israel’s security and economic achievements, as well as pain over its educational and cultural failures. . . .

Thanks to changes taking place both in ḥaredi society and in Israel generally, more Ḥaredim than ever are involved in projects and initiatives—in the workforce, in education, and in civil society—that bring them into cooperation with non-Ḥaredim. They feel a sense of responsibility . . . that originates in feelings of fraternity and mutuality.

Read more at Tzarich Iyun

More about: Haredim, Israeli society, Judaism in Israel


What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship