The words of Oliver Cromwell addressing the English Parliament in 1653.
The full quotation is:” Depart I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”
Some might think it ironic that I choose to quote Cromwell, considering that he was instrumental in permitting Jews to return to England after 600 years of exile. (N.B. He was not referring to Jews in this quote).
But I am!
After 63 years, the internecine strife between the different elements of Israeli society has finally reached breaking point. Of course, the signs have been there for decades, but it is only recently that matters have come to a head. Slowly, the battle lines are being drawn in the fight for the soul of Israel.
I am aware that these words may sound melodramatic and hyperbolic, but passion is what is needed if the country is not to become a religious fundamentalist mirror image of Iran. There, the policy is dictated by the Mullahs and the Imams. Do we want our policies to be determined by the Rabbis and leadership of the Haredim?
The very essence of secularism is tolerance, and a philosophy based on understanding and equality. This has been ruthlessly exploited by certain elements of Haredi society and enabled them to gain enormous influence and power, out of all proportion to the 10% of the population that they represent numerically.
Recent events in Beit Shemesh, Mea Shearim and on Egged buses have been widely publicised and do not need further elaboration here. Apologists argue that the violence is carried out by a handful of extremists who do not represent the Ultra orthodox as a whole. That may be true of the specific acts, but many Haredim are sympathetic to the ultimate objective; they just differ on the method.
Of course, the “Band-aid” merchants are running around in circles trying to patch up the wounds. They include the Prime Minister and a number of Rabbis and politicians, fearful of the consequences of total religious power.
Even allowing for a certain element of media hysteria, the irreconcilable differences should be finally acknowledged, and not swept under the carpet as they always have been. It is time to face the reality that Israel now comprises of at least 5 distinctly different societies:
- The Haredim
- The Nationalist or Traditional religious
- The Secular (including atheists and agnostics) – who are, supposedly, the majority.
- The Arabs
- The migrant workers, infiltrators and others.
“People often talk about David Ben Gurion’s encouragement of Haredi Jews to settle in Israel as his “greatest blunder.” Yet, not even he could foresee the damage the Haredim would cause in the future. Ben Gurion acknowledges the terrible mistake he made in a letter he wrote to his minister, Levi Eshkol, who would later become Israel’s Prime Minister.
I am not of the opinion that you need my advice in government matters and it is not my intention to lend such advice – however the rioting by religious fanatics exceeds all limits and I feel that I bear the responsibility to some degree. I exempted yeshiva students from doing military service. Indeed I did so when their numbers were small, but they have been steadily increasing and their lawlessness constitutes a danger to the state’s honor. We need not appear in the world as an Alabama or South Africa. I propose that every yeshiva student of age 18 and over who is apprehended at an illegal gathering, throwing rocks, attacking citizens or other acts of violence and hooliganism, should be recruited immediately into the IDF to serve like any other young Israeli, for the term of thirty months, not in the Ministry of Religions, but as a plain soldier. Generally, the entire question of yeshiva students should be examined and whether they should be exempt from military obligation; certainly law-breakers should not enjoy this dubious privilege . . ” .http://rabbimichaelsamuel.com/
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
(The more things change , the more they stay the same.)
Since its inception, Israel has tolerated and allowed to live in its midst, known religious opponents of the concept of Zionism and the very existence of the state. The Neturei Karta, and their new offshoot the Sicarii, have been regarded simply as extremist religious loonies. Even cosying up to Yasser Arafat and Mahmood Ahmedinijad was shrugged off as inconsequential nonsense.
“In the name of God – go!”
Andyboy – Telling it as it is
- Some of my best friends are Jews (andyboy1.com)
- Religion and Sex in Israel: Street Clashes Over Defining a Jewish State (globalspin.blogs.time.com)
- Israel braced for protests against treatment of women after girl, 8, is spat on by Jewish extremists (dailymail.co.uk)