UTJ's abandonment of constituents
What should the party faithful have discussed over three days of meetings and deliberations? Let’s start with the high number of ultra-Orthodox children who leave their families and the haredi world.And it could grow even larger in another few years. And it's probably better that way, because this helps them to integrate better into wider society, something the stuffy old reps don't want, in their obsession with dumbing down their subjects. On which note:
The statistics are staggering. According to government sources as of a few years ago, the proportion of haredi children leaving the fold was close to 8 percent. Today the figure is thought to be 10 percent.
One would think such a crisis would spur the haredi leadership to make this a major focus of their national convention. Should they not have considered evaluating their system? It sets every male child on a course to study Torah full-time, or pushes wives to support their husbands to enable them to study Torah full-time. But it is a way of life not suited for mainstream children, and which is most certainly driving them away from their homes in such high numbers.And if they won't come to terms with how bad their approach has become, why should they be surprised? And among what they did discuss, there came a serious error to how they look upon non-Orthodox practitioners:
Not a word was uttered about this pressing issue.
What else should the convention have addressed? Well, can the party really continue to ignore the poverty inside its own community? Families do not have food to put on their table, and are mired in dreadful living conditions. Perhaps they might have discussed the need for establishing institutions which combine high-level Torah study with some form of job training, to allow those young men the opportunity to find a job to support their families with dignity within a Torah and religious framework.
They might have discussed tackling the problem by providing their youth with math and English skills in a manner which does not interfere with their values and religious way of life, to avoid the menial and low-paying jobs that most ultra-Orthodox young men end up doing.
Again, this issue was not raised in any of the meetings or plenary sessions.
The second focus of the convention was the dangers of non-Orthodox streams of Judaism, especially Reform. A statement issued at the end of the convention said Degel Hatorah would only accept a separate location for non-Orthodox streams to pray at the Western Wall if there are separate entrances – one for the Orthodox, and one for all other Jews.Indeed. All they're doing is hatemongering, and if they really do think it's bad, why don't they try and propose ways to persuade Reform constituents to try Orthodox instead? Probably because even Orthodox alone isn't enough for them; it simply has to be ultra-Orthodox.
The language used by MK Moshe Gafni to express this policy was simply disgusting: “They can go wherever they want; they can do whatever they want; but not together with us. We will not allow them to be with us in any way. Not at the entrance to the Kotel, not at the exit.”
How sad that a group which claims to act in the name of religion doesn’t even adhere to the most basic of religious tenets – love others as you would have them love you – nor strives for another basic Jewish value: unity of the Jewish people.
Biggest irony is that if Gafni's bunch is anti-Zionist, so too were various Reform movements for many years. In that case, what's their beef? All they've done is create a rift that ensures it'd be much harder to persuade Reforms who're anti-Israel to turn around.
So I think it's best if a lot of Haredis are leaving the lifestyle behind. What we should hope is that they don't abandon Judaism because of how the Haredi leaderships made things so dreadful. But if they do, it shouldn't be surprising, given how badly isolationist and ignorant many of the Haredi tribes became.