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Tuesday, January 21, 2014 

Campaigning to Satmar to immigrate to Israel is risky

The Religious Zionist World Mizrachi movement's running a campaign aimed at encouraging Haredis from abroad to move to Israel. But based on some of the details involved, this could be an awfully dumb move, depending on how they run it:
The Religious-Zionist World Mizrahi Movement launched a Yiddish language internet campaign aimed at convincing ultra-orthodox Jews abroad to make aliyah on Monday.

[...] While the insular ultra-orthodox community is notoriously anti-Zionist, [Jeremy] Gimpel believes that now is the perfect time to target its members with a pro-immigration message.

While admitting that his target demographic is “insular and impenetrable,” Gimpel told the Jerusalem Post that the increasing threat of modernity posed by the penetration of smartphones and the internet among hasidic groups has created a more receptive audience than may have existed previously.

[...] The new campaign, Gimpel explained, will bypass “traditional obstacles to engagement” with the ultra-orthodox. “Smartphones and YouTube allow us to reach communities at large that would never otherwise invite us to speak at their synagogues. Using the internet properly has the potential to change world Jewry.”
While this does have some truth to it, there's still the problem of the Satmar's political beliefs:
Gimpel, quoting an unnamed Yiddish speaking journalist with whom he said he spoke, said that now may be the “right time to reach out to the Satmar Chassidim and other Chassidic sects. Western culture is infiltrating our communities and people are starting to consider Eretz Yisroel [land of Israel] as a real option to raising their families in an uncorrupted Jewish environment. The State of Israel which was once seen as a threat to a Torah based life is being seen as a potential safe haven for people who want to live a Torah based life.”
Wait a moment. Is he implying that those who want to immigrate here can rely on spending nearly all their time at a yeshiva and not be expected to work to earn their living, which actually contradicts some of the core beliefs in the Torah? Despite citing the Torah, the sad truth is what he's proposing is more against its beliefs than for it.
Satmar’s opposition to Zionism is well known. Zalman Leib Teitelbaum, one of the sect’s two competing Grand Rabbis, told a rally of thousands in Meah Shearim last year that voting in Knesset elections was forbidden according to Jewish law.

A Satmar spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

MK Dov Lipman, an ultra-orthodox Rabbi, said that he was “in shock” that Mizrahi was targeting the Yiddish speaking sector.

“Of course we welcome all Jews to Israel but to place resources and effort to motivate this specific population to move to Israel is beyond comprehension,” he told the Post. “The chareidi community in Bet Shemesh lived in harmony with the rest of the population until the yiddish speaking anti-Zionist, extremist population arrived. Efforts should be placed on inspiring Jews who are moderate, tolerant and seek to be part of the broader population - including the mainstream American chareidi population - to Israel and not this shocking and startling new initiative.”
Absolutely right. If Gimpel's trying to cater to the baser beliefs held by clans like Satmar, he's doing a huge disfavor for Israel, and what if they encourage more of these awful riots that have taken place on the streets in Mea Shearim and spare no expense encouraging opposition to army service? That's not what Israel needs.

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