New York Politicians vs. Orthodox Jews

More then ten years ago, then-New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg boasted of his unique courage in confronting his city’s Ḥaredim in a regulatory fight over circumcision, asking rhetorically, “Who wants to have 10,000 guys in black hats outside your office, screaming?” Avi Schick sees this as the beginning of a trend whereby state and local politicians don’t simply endorse policies to which Orthodox Jews object, but deliberately choose policies aimed at interfering with their religious practices:

In October 2020, just as the harshest pandemic restrictions were being eased, Governor Cuomo created gerrymandered districts covering Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods where houses of worship were subject to severe limitations on attendance. Churches in those zones were also affected, but the governor openly declared that his target was “these ultra-Orthodox communities, who are also very politically powerful.”

Only Orthodox Jews are targeted for harsh treatment and simultaneously described as (too) politically powerful. The message is that they deserve what they get.

Most recently, New York and its most powerful media institution have unleashed dangerous rules and rhetoric aimed at religious schooling. Yeshivas have been educating students in New York for more than 120 years, and the laws governing private schools have been on the books even longer. That history signifies deep satisfaction with the yeshiva system, but it is dismissed because, as the New York Times wrote, those “who might have taken action have instead accommodated a ḥasidic voting bloc.”

I don’t believe that New York’s mayors and governors are anti-Semites. But the New York we inhabit at the moment reflects the convergence of the nanny state and the secular state. There is little deference to individual or parental autonomy, and even less respect for religious activity. The result is government limitations on circumcision, prayer, and religious education.

Read more at Sapir

More about: Andrew Cuomo, Anti-Semitism, Coronavirus, Jewish education, Michael Bloomberg, New York City, Orthodoxy


The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7