How Hasidim Became the Jews of the Jews

Sept. 19 2022

Last week, the New York Times ran an article under the headline “In Ḥasidic Enclaves, Failing Private Schools Flush with Public Money,” which accused these institutions of providing students with woefully inadequate secular educations, employing corporal punishment, and other failings. Moshe Krakowski, acknowledges the serious problems this article raises while pointing to its numerous shortcomings.

The reporters admit that only a few dozen of the [275] people they spoke with still live in the ḥasidic community, all of them fierce critics of the yeshivas. These 275 activists and critics hold important views that deserve to be heard. But so do the thousands upon thousands of Ḥasidim who disagree with them. [The authors] ignore these people completely. Amazingly, the reporters made only a single visit to an actual ḥasidic yeshiva. . . . And—this is actually hard to believe—it appears that they didn’t bother contacting current school administrators until after the article was nearly complete.

After detailing various flaws in the ways the Times article presented its data, and in the data themselves, Krakwoski addresses a different sort of question:

Why are oversimplified and often deeply distorted portraits of Ḥaredim so commonplace?

The answer, sadly, is that the mere existence of the Ḥaredim challenges all sorts of claims about religion and modernity that other Jews, in particular, hold sacred. These radically countercultural Jews go out of their way to reject society’s values and norms, and so validate everything other Jews secretly fear. They are a living embrace of the idea that the Jew is different. For reminding everyone of this, they are either scorned, or reduced to a shtetl fairy tale, or more often, hated.

When it comes to Ḥaredim, the rules of polite discourse do not apply, and generalizations, prejudice, and bigotry are proffered as self-evident fact.

If, as Tom Lehrer sang, “everybody hates the Jews,” whom do the Jews hate?

Ḥaredim. They are the Jews of the Jews.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Anti-Semitism, Haredim, Hasidim, Jewish education, New York Times

The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy