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Beware: Leftist Witch Hunt Against Haredim

By Moshe Feiglin

The demonization campaign against the Haredim is pre-meditated – no doubt about it. Suddenly, everyone is very concerned over what subjects the Haredim are teaching their students. Suddenly the leftist, secular, Ashkenazi elites wake up and bemoan the small numbers of Sephardic girls in the Chassidic schools.

It is not too difficult to figure out where the source of this ugly wave of anti-Semitism hides. Those people who have everything to gain from the “secular” name-brand are Tzippy Livni and media-personality and aspiring politician Yair Lapid. The politics of hate are very effective. Ehud Barak waged an anti-Haredi campaign and became prime minister. Tommy Lapid won an amazing election victory with anti-Semitic tactics, Tzippy Livni also won over incited voters in the last elections and Tommy’s son, Yair wants a piece of the action, as well.

The promotional firms and their well-funded clients are cooking up a political big-bang for the Israeli public. Recent history has proven that when Israeli society moves Right, hatred for the settlers does not bring in the votes. So who will be the bad guy? Which witch will the raging mob learn to hate and hunt down? Who else but the Haredim?

The problem in Emanuel is not Ashkenazi discrimination against Sephardic Jews. 30% of the students in the school in question are Sephardic. The real question in this case is: Who determines what education our children will receive – the parents, who ostensibly have the right to educate their children according to their beliefs, or the State and its justice system?

Manhigut Yehudit has always been an egalitarian movement that does not differentiate between Ashkenazic or Sephardic, observant or non-observant Jews. But this open approach must be a product of free choice and not of coercion. We believe that schools should unconditionally accept all children who would like to learn. But we can certainly honor the desire of parents who, in this age of permissiveness and rebelliousness, choose to keep their children in a more closed learning environment.

In Israel today, the Education Minister is the supreme authority over our children’s education and can expropriate the parents’ rights to determine the type of education they want for their children. This abnormal reality creates distortions, such as the attempt to force parents to send their daughters to an educational track that does not meet their educational/spiritual standards under the threat of fines and imprisonment.

There are thousands of children who illegally do not attend school in Israel. Some of them even illegally work for their parents, or work with their active consent. But these children are mostly Bedouin or Arabs, so no public storm clouds will burst over the issue and the “rule of law” will not have its way. But when the parents in question are Haredi and are doing their utmost so that their daughters attend school, the court will not hesitate to show them who is the boss. The media will accuse the parents of racism, the war drums will beat and the public atmosphere will become hateful and closed-minded.

Essentially, we are all in the same boat. The Supreme Court, which has nowhere near 30% representation of Sephardic Jews on its lofty bench, should not be allowed to force its values on the parents of Emanuel. Manhigut Yehudit is not in favor of segregation, but we are totally opposed to coercion of values in any realm – and certainly in the all-important educational realm.

The educational “seminar in jail” that the Supreme Court has imposed upon the Emanuel parents for their refusal to send their daughters back to school is reminiscent of the “educational seminar” to which the Jews opposed to the Expulsion from Gush Katif were treated by the courts. Now, when the media is hunting down witches and the flames of hatred are being fanned high, we must stand united with the Haredi public. This struggle is the struggle of every Jew who cares about individual liberties and the Jewish nature of this country.

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