The ultra-Orthodox tighten their grip in Israel
By Ruth Marcus, Published: August 7
BEIT SHEMESH, Israel
…“Whenever people tell me, respect their society — their society doesn’t respect me,” Philipp says, voice quivering as she describes a recent incident in which a woman with an infant was pelted with stones while shopping here. “We all see ourselves as vulnerable, and we’re all scared.” The latest skirmish involves signs instructing women here to stay off certain sidewalks so as not to brush up against men.”
…”One difficult set of questions in a country where religion and government are officially entangled is how much the state should accommodate the religious needs of the ultra-Orthodox — for example, the ultra-Orthodox public radio station that bleeps out the voices of female members of the national legislature, the Knesset, lest men suffer from “impure” thoughts on hearing women’s voices, or public health clinics with separate days for men and women. If higher education is key to integrating the ultra-Orthodox, should the state fund scholarships for gender-segregated classes?
Even more troubling are the mounting instances in which the ultra-Orthodox have insisted that their religious needs take precedence — for instance, demanding separate seating at public ceremonies or even, as happened last year, barring a female pediatrics professor from going on stage to accept an award from the ultra-Orthodox health minister.
With the country now debating how to integrate the ultra-Orthodox into the armed forces — the long-standing draft exemption has been declared unconstitutional — questions of gender equity will become even more pointed: Will conscription of the ultra-Orthodox come at the expense of women’s rights in an egalitarian military? Will ultra-Orthodox men take orders from women?”
Cassi Creek: In 1972, the summer Olympic games were held in Munich, Germany. Olga Korbut became the premier female gymnast, opening the sport to previously unheard of levels of interest.
11 Israelis were captured and murdered by PLO gunmen in the Olympic Village. There was a request for a moment of silence, honoring the victims, to be inserted into the opening ceremony of the current Olympic Games – London 2012. That request was denied. The animosity between Israelis and would-be-Palestinians remains unresolved.
For many, the “flying squirrel nickname no longer calls to mind a near-seditious cartoon. What we once proudly kept as an amateur team now contains professional athletes who now insist that they be allowed to compete as amateurs while raking in immensely profitable endorsement contracts.
Israelis have continued to live in a perpetual state of war with their enemies – the entire Middle East, and the Moslem bloc in the UN. Even worse, they are undergoing a civil battle to redefine the nation. The fundamentalist Jews are just as intent upon enforcing a theocracy rooted in Iron Age myths and practices. They result, should the haradim win, would be a nation as culturally backward as Afghanistan under the Taliban and as repressive as Iran and Pakistan today.
America has its own breed of Taliban and haradim. The end results are yet to be determined. However, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity are each hoping to take their respective societies back to the days of theocracies and the inquisition. There will be no positive outcome if these fundamentalists are allowed to win and to dominate nations and societies. Islam and America’s Taliban have forged connections with weapons so that they have religious demagogues pushing violence as a means of bringing in new members to replace those who leave the faith. All three cultures have birth rates that exceed sustainability in today’s world. All three cultures repress women; see them only as breeding stock.
In these culture wars, Israel has the most to lose. If the haradim have their way, Israel will become a nation with no defenses.
If the American Taliban and their minions become truly dominant, the nation bought and paid for by true patriots will become a theocracy filled with scientifically, historically illiterates heading for 3rd world status. The Arab spring needs to be replayed by secular Arabs. If the quest for a repeat Caliphate becomes their goal, there will be no viable Arab nations left.
As for the Olympics, commercialism reigns supreme now. American participants are at greater risk when they return home than while in the games.