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Thursday, November 13, 2014 

The trouble with a Haredi theocracy in America

Jonathan Kay, the Canadian writer who spoke about the issues with Islam and Haredi society at least a year ago, has written again about the topic in the National Post, but again, he's apparently doing it at the expense of concerns over Islam. He begins with:
Remember the great Shariah-law freakout of 2004? A decade ago, the province of Ontario examined the question of how the province’s Arbitration Act could be applied to religious disputes involving inheritance and family law. Various faith groups, including Jews, had been quietly running small-scale local tribunals for years. But post-9/11, the stakes were raised: When the Islamic Institute of Civil Justice announced that it intended to create tribunals for Canadian Muslims, culture watchdogs warned that the whole project really was about Shariah taking over Canada. Then-Premier Dalton McGuinty read the political winds and declared: “There will be no sharia law in Ontario. There will be no religious arbitration in Ontario. There will be one law for all Ontarians.”

In the United States, the fight over shariah law’s alleged encroachment has been even fiercer: Since 9/11, lawmakers in just about every bible-belt state have introduced some form of “anti-Shariah” legislation. And groups such as the “Sharia Awareness Action Network” hold conferences to warn Americans about how Muslims are secretly infiltrating all level of government. I’ve attended a few of these events, and can attest that the participants really do honesty believe that their U.S. children and grandchildren may one day live in an Islamic theocracy.
So again he's belittling legitimate worries about Islam's beliefs and influence? That soaks the impact of the argument he's presenting next, because as bad as Haredi customs can be, they're not as awful as Islamofascism, though you could probably argue we should be worried whether one day, Haredi extremists like what Satmar's produced could reach a level much worse than what they go by now. His link to a Daily Beast article hostile to Michelle Bachmann and Frank Gaffney also raises suspicion about Kay's true positions.
Which makes it all the more amazing that a repressive and patriarchal mini-theocracy really does exist in the heart of America’s biggest city — yet few Americans seem to have noticed. More astounding still, the theocrats who run the place owe at least some of their special privileges and powers to the connivance of local secular officials. It’s like the Sharia Awareness Action Network’s worst nightmare — except that it involves Jews, not Muslims.

For the details, read Rachel Aviv’s epic, newly published New Yorker exposé of the massive Hasidic Jewish community in Borough Park, Brooklyn. Aviv’s narrative focuses on a single legal odyssey, which began in 2008, when a Hasidic man named Sam Kellner came to believe that his son had been molested by a neighbourhood cantor named Baruch Lebovits. After Kellner began digging around, he found that there were all sorts of creepy allegations surrounding Lebovits — some involving the accused driving around the neighbourhood, asking boys to get into his car.

Lebovits eventually pled guilty in May, 2014, to molesting a teenage boy. That is a horrible crime in and of itself. Equally horrible is what Aviv’s article tells us about the reaction of the Hasidic community in Borough Park: Most Hasids robotically rallied to Lebovits’ defence, on the theory that Jews shouldn’t rat each other out to the secular state.
Yes, that was horrific how tons of Satmar members took the side of the culprit who committed homosexual rape upon several youngsters. And all condemnations of such a mentality are fully valid. It was also tragic how the DA's office turned against one of the plaintiffs and accused him of blackmail, and at this point, realizing Charles Hynes was not doing a very good job, I'm not sorry he lost his position. The subject of child abuse in Haredi societies is not something that should be ignored.

But what about sex abuse in Muslim societies? Is Kay going to ignore that by contrast? His dismissive attitude about sharia undermines his whole argument about Haredi orwellianism. It's worth noting he fails to cite the heavy reliance many Haredi communities have on welfare and food stamps, especially Satmar. The subject came up in a Village Voice article this week that notes how they're the poorest place you can find in America, though there are Muslims who live off welfare in America too, and that shouldn't be overlooked either. However, it fails to note clearly that Joel Teitelbaum was one major phony, and how stupefying it is he successfully formed a community comprised of groupthink and mind control elements.

Again, the issue of Haredi mentality's bad impact on wider society is something calling for concern. And one can argue Americans are making a mistake to overlook Haredi reliance on welfare at everyone else's expense. But Kay is not fit to comment if he dismisses Islamism by contrast.

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