Tel Aviv’s Yom Kippur Disturbance and Israel’s Strained Social Fabric

Last week, agitators disrupted an outdoor Yom Kippur service taking place in Tel Aviv’s central Dizengoff Square. The attack followed a court ruling against the organizers of the service, which had determined that sex-segregated prayer cannot take place in Tel Aviv’s public spaces. (The court has not tried to apply this ruling to Muslim worship, which, like most Jewish worship in Israel, usually involves separate seating for men and women.) The editors of the Jerusalem Post comment:

Why, one must ask, did a prayer service that has taken place annually, without incident, since the onset of the coronavirus, turn so ugly this year? Why was there no uproar last year, or the year before, when a partition was rolled out for the prayers?

The reason lies not in the [seating arrangements], but goes much deeper and is related to fears and beliefs. It is the fear among the ardently secular that their way of life is endangered. It is the belief among the ardently religious that vaunted liberal values—“live and let live”—apply to everyone but them.

There was a time when this type of prayer service, just like refraining from eating [leaven] on Passover in a hospital, did not necessitate state intervention; when it did not require legislation; when it could all be managed with common sense, mutual respect, and basic decency. There was a time when issues such as these were governed by the simple understanding that if I know something bothers you, I won’t intentionally provoke you by doing it in your face. I’ll respect you, as I expect you to respect me.

A collapse of mutual respect emerged on Yom Kippur in Dizengoff Square. In Israel, circa 2023, everything is considered a “slippery slope,” everything is a matter of principle over which it is impossible to compromise.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Israeli politics, Israeli society, Judaism in Israel, Tel Aviv, Yom Kippur

Ordinary Gazans Are Turning against Hamas—and Its Western Sympathizers

In the past few days, difficult-to-confirm reports have emerged of unrest in the Gaza Strip, and of civilians throwing stones at Hamas operatives. A recent video from Al Jazeera showed a Gazan declaring that “God will bring Qatar and Turkey to account” for the suffering of Palestinians in the current war. Being an agent of the Qatari government, the journalist turned away, and then pushed the interviewee with his hand to prevent him from getting near the microphone. Yet this brief exchange contributes much to the ongoing debate about Palestinian support for Hamas, and belies the frequent assertion by experts that the Israeli campaign is only “further radicalizing” the population.

For some time, Joseph Braude has worked with a number of journalists and researchers to interview ordinary Gazans under circumstances where they don’t fear reprisals. He notes that the sorts of opinions they share are rarely heard in Western media, let alone on Al Jazeera or Iran-sponsored outlets:

[A] resident of Khan Younis describes how locals in a bakery spontaneously attacked a Hamas member who had come to buy bread. The incident, hardly imaginable before the present war, reflects a widespread feeling of “disgust,” he says, after Gazan aspirations for “a dignified life and to live in peace” were set back by the Hamas atrocities of October 7.

Fears have grown that this misery will needlessly be prolonged by Westerners who strive, in effect, to perpetuate Hamas rule, according to one Gazan woman. Addressing protesters who have taken to the streets to demand a ceasefire on behalf of Palestinians, she calls on them to make a choice: “Either support the Palestinian people or the Hamas regime that oppresses them.” If protesters harbor a humanitarian motive, she asks, “Why don’t we see them demonstrating against Hamas?”

“Hamas is the destruction of the Palestinian people. We’ve had enough. They need to be wiped out—because if they remain, the people will be wiped out.”

You can watch videos of some of the interviews by clicking the link below.

Read more at Free Press

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion