In a Changing World, Orthodoxy Needs a New Breed of Spokesmen

Feb. 8 2022
About Eli

Eli Spitzer is a Mosaic columnist and the headmaster of a hasidic boys’ school in London. He blogs and hosts a podcast at

Last month, a new ḥaredi institution was founded in the UK with the express goal of serving as a “point of contact for our community’s public affairs and public relations.” Eli Spitzer believes that this organization came on the scene “not a moment too soon,” as two cultural shifts have caused unprecedented challenges for those who would manage the public relations of British Ḥaredim:

Twenty years ago, multiculturalism was the regnant orthodoxy, and politicians of all stripes were desperate above all to demonstrate their tolerance for, and warm relations with, minority communities, the weirder the better. It was entirely possible for a senior government minister to be photographed at an event in [the heavily Orthodox London neighborhood of] Stamford Hill with an ostentatious m’ḥitsah separating men and women, without anyone making a fuss about “gender apartheid.” Times have changed. The privilege pecking order (according to which the less “privileged” you are, the more privileges you get) has changed, and, now, being a member of a minority community is no longer an excuse for flouting the latest orthodoxies on gender, race, and sexuality; in some cases, it might even be an aggravating factor.

This shift was undoubtedly expedited by fears that autonomous minority communities were breeding grounds for terrorism, but it was going to happen sooner or later anyway.

The second shift is informational. The iPhone was first released for sale in 2007, Facebook was launched in 2003, even Google only goes back to 1998, and all of these developments took years to achieve social saturation. There was a time, much more recently than it seems, where you could say more or less anything to journalists and they had no real way of checking. Now, within a couple of minutes even a true statement can be easily “debunked” through a few minutes searching the Internet for exposés of the ḥaredi community written by hostile critics. Not only can we no longer keep secrets, but any voice we have is just one among millions available through a simple click.

Read more at Eli Spitzer

More about: British Jewry, Haredim, Internet, Multiculturalism


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount