Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Fighting Desegregation

There's an irony to this: for years Jews were on the forefront of the civil rights movement in the United States, fighting the good fight to end segregation between blacks and whites. Barack Obama's ascension to the Oval Office is the greatest proof so far of the success of their efforts.
But then it's interesting to observe how in Israel the exact same thing is happening, in reverse.
Residents of the haredi neighborhoods in Jerusalem are going to war against Egged, an Israeli bus company. Dozens of people demonstrated Wednesday afternoon in the Ge'ula and Mea Shaarim neighborhoods, blocking through traffic to Egged buses.
The protestors are taking action against the bus company after a complaint was submitted by the Transportation Ministry against the operation of private "kosher"
lines within the public transportation framework without a license. According to police reports, haredim threw stones at an Egged bus traveling through the neighborhood. No injuries were reported, but damage was caused to the bus' windshield.
Police forces were summoned to the location to maintain the peace. However, it was reported to Ynet that bus traffic to Mea Shaarim will be terminated until order is restored.

The haredi committee, Va'ad Mehadrin Le'Eretz HaKodesh, inaugurated on Tuesday a line of private buses that run from haredi neighborhoods to the Western Wall following Egged's refusal to run Bus 2 on a similar route even though, according to the committee, the line transports 20,000 haredi passengers a day.
Those behind the new bus lines promised that additional "kosher" lines would be inaugurated soon, hoping that pressure put on Egged will have an effect.
Rabbis consulted and agreed that the cost of running these bus lines will be shouldered by some 1,000 newly-wed yeshiva students, each of whom would donate $100. Thus far, half the necessary funds have been collected.
Posters hung throughout the city called out to the haredi public on the issue: "The Egged Company systematically tramples the soul of the haredi public and destroys its holiness by coercing mixed licentious travel on a daily basis. Every rabbinical or entrepreneurial attempt at dialogue with them has been consistently rejected by them… The licentious travel of the Egged Company is enemy No. 1 to Judaism."

That's right, dear readers. Enemy No. 1 to Judaism is not the millions of Arabs on Israel's borders waiting for the opportunity to rain down death and destruction on the State. It's not assimilation in North America which is wiping out the Jewish population there more effectively than a concentrated anti-Semitic culture ever could. It's not the collapse of the global economy which is robbing Jewish charities and educational institutions of much need cash. And it's not the sinas chinam being drummed up by the Chareidi leadership. No, it's mixed seating/standing on Egged buses. That's what's going to destroy Judaism today.
Me, I think the Israeli public should support this new segregation. Make sure the "kosher" buses are clearly marked, given specific routes and then announce that Chareidi Jews are forbidden to enter non-kosher buses either. After all, it they don't other lines will eventually come under pressure to be annexed to the kosher system.
If a violent, self-centred segment of the population wants to have things their own way, let them but they can't venture out when it's no longer convenient for them.


Jewish Atheist said...

Orthodox Jews have never been on the forefront of civil rights activism. PLEASE. Even today, lots of Orthodox Jews are racist.

It's secular Jews that led there, and lead today in the gay rights movement. Orthodox Jews care about as much about civil rights as orthodox Muslims.

Baruch said...

In the Dec '64 issue of the Jewish Observer, Marvin Schick opined that individual Jews should be concerned about civil rights, but that Orthodox institutions don't have enough resources to get involved.

There were frum Jews who marched with King (I believe David Luchins was one and Larry Domnitch told me there were bigger names involved, but I don't know any details), but generally it seems they stayed out of it. If we go back to womens' suffrage, most of the gedolim felt that a woman should not be able to vote.

I asked R' Rakeffet about the Rav's opinion on the civil rights movement nd he told me he never heard the Rav speak about it (I have this recorded).