By Menachem Gsheid
The ugly, wretched Israeli hypocrisy was fully exposed this past week. The all-out assault against the chareidi community in wake of the income supplement law for yeshiva students crossed every red line.
It was as if the signal was given and anyone with a pen or a keyboard charged at the victim and sunk his teeth into it. A foreigner who would have landed here could think that all the State’s maladies start and end with young men who study the Torah; the one that gives us the right to live in the Land of Israel.
The status quo that has been maintained for dozens of years, just like the fact we are dealing with small sums of money here, did not stop any member of the orchestrated campaign who sought to slam, hurt, and de-legitimize students of the Torah.
At the end of the day, we are talking about some NIS 1,000 (roughly $300) per month for a yeshiva student with three children. Will this sum of money prevent him from going to work? You think this sum will solve all the problems he has in life? His housing expenses? The mortgage? The food?
I can understand those who disagree with people who value Torah studies over convenience and the good life. We did not ask anyone to laud these yeshiva students – but why humiliate them?
If you do not want minorities in the Israeli state, and if you are unwilling to live alongside those who are different than you, declare it openly and expel us: The Arabs to Lebanon and Egypt, us chareidim to the United States, and leave the State of Tel Aviv intact.
Treat us like Arabs
The scope of venom directed at us makes it appear as though we personify all the wickedness and corruption around here, yet none of these loud critics have the courage to stand up and say the same things about Israeli Arabs. When it comes to the Arabs, these critics support dialogue, patience, and affirmative action. But not with the chareidim.
We, the chareidim, do not need anyone’s kosher certificate for Israel’s right to exist in the Holy Land. This land is promised to its scholars and thinkers in the Book of Books. Without substantive attachment to the Bible, we have no place here, amidst the hundreds of millions of Muslims. Hence, despite the occasional waves of incitement, more and more people move closer to the Creator.
We are not always able to explain our moves in a manner that would be satisfy the audience, but we despise those who think that NIS 1,000 shekels would change the minds of people who decided to dedicate themselves to Torah studies. Most chareidim who work for a living, both in Israel and abroad, feel privileged to support these yeshiva students, by offering much more than a thousand shekels per month.
For years now we’ve been subjected to harsh and humiliating attacks. This includes all of us, including those who work, join the IDF, enroll in academic studies or perform their national service. We are only forgiven as individuals, hearing words like “if all those chareidim were like you…” – yet the fact most chareidim are indeed like me is of no interest to anyone.
We ask only one thing of the loud, racist minority: Please, treat us as you treat Israel’s Arabs. Talk about us, criticize us, and scrutinize our actions using the same criteria and language. It’s impossible that in the Jewish state you would value Ahmed more than Yankel and Tibi more than Shimi. And if you cannot do it, at least have the courage to speak up and call for transferring us elsewhere.