Will Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Continue to See Themselves as a People Apart? https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/israel-zionism/2019/07/will-israels-ultra-orthodox-continue-to-see-themselves-as-a-people-apart/

July 8, 2019 | Yehoshua Pfeffer
About the author: Yehoshua Pfeffer, a rabbi and rabbinical judge, holds a law degree from the Hebrew University and clerked at the Israel Supreme Court. He has taught at a number of yeshivas, published widely on Jewish law and thought, and is currently directing programs for the haredi community in Israel for the Tikvah Fund.

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 on Tzarich Iyun: https://iyun.org.il/en/sedersheni/multiculturalism-identity-politics-and-the-haredim/

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