Is the conflict in Bet Shemesh about
- Law enforcement?
- A clash between separationists and integrationists?
- Generations of poor policy towards Haredim,
- The place of women in Judaism,
- Or just common decency?
Some might suggest that when a girl is spat on by an adult, there is nothing more at stake than a individual behaving disgracefully. Others would argue that until the spitter, his supporters, and his violent colleagues, are put behind bars, this is not an issue of common decency, but a question of poor policing and inadequate sentencing. Yet more would point to the ongoing failure of a succession of Israeli governments to come to terms with the cumulative effect of state-supported Haredi separatism.
Women singing in the army
would seem to have nothing to do with Haredim, since the 1,200 Haredim serving in the army do not attend these ceremonies anyway, and rarely see a woman throughout their service. The soldiers who walked out, and the rabbis who supported them, would seem to be raising non-Haredi-connected questions:
- As another group of women recently graduated from the Israel Air Force pilots’ course, what is the place of women in the army?
- Where are the implications of orthodox and ultra-orthodox rabbis’ changing attitudes to and growing influence in the IDF?
The gender-segregated buses charge us to ask
- What are the moral implications of women being sent to the back of the bus?
- What about freedom of choice? (For Haredi men, as well as women.)
- What can be done about the sexualization of the public sphere? (Haredim pull one way, while the secular commercial world pulls just as brazenly in the other.)
- What should be the rules governing public services (private bus firms offering the same services were not criticized)?
What are the questions that would seem to apply “across the board”?
- What price feminism in Israel?
A Western, modern understanding of a woman’s place in the world is challenging a very different approach.
- What price multi-culturalism in Israel?
In supporting the autonomy of diverse sectors (Haredim, Arabs, Kibbutzim, etc) is Israel is undermining its ability to maintain a coherent society?
- What is the nature of the public sphere, and who controls it?
- What price “Jewish Peoplehood”?
Is there a way for us to accept our antagonists as part of the same people? What values of our own might need be sacrificed in search of mutual responsibility?
- What will Israel look like in the future?
With a rapidly-growing Haredi population what will this demographic reality do to our understandings of Zionism and the Jewish State?
- Do we need pragmatism or principles?
Behind the scenes, a quiet revolution is taking place. Thousands of Haredim are entering the work place, colleges for Haredim are sprouting up, and an openness to accommodation is spreading. Yet each time a principled protest against the status quo picks up steam, progress is stymied for another period.