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Tuesday, July 19, 2022 

Haredi extremists oppose freedom of choice on smartphones

One of the very few things the outgoing government did right was to loosen the rules on mobile phones in ultra-Orthodox society, but now, unshockingly, there's extremists who're against the choice of community members to buy the phone they want:
Shmuli looks outside the windows of his cellular phone store fearfully. He pulls at his long beard and swaying sidelocks. “Please don’t take my picture,” he begs. “Don’t talk loud.”

His tone becomes menacing. “Go away. Just leave. Now.”

Shmuli (not his real name) has reason to be fearful. Several stores that sell smartphones and other digital technology near Mea She’arim, Jerusalem’s largest ultra-Orthodox neighborhood, have been trashed. Customers have been assaulted and riots have broken out in nearby streets.
Needless to say, if the police don't provide protection, that's a very serious dereliction of duty right there.
Smartphones have become a volatile issue in the Haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, community since April, when Israel’s communications minister made it easier for Haredi to use smartphones without the knowledge of their rabbis, raising tensions within the Haredi community and between them and the rest of Israeli society.

[...] Rabbinical bans on the computer and the internet have been less successful than the ban against television or secular press. Initially the rabbis completely banned the internet, but as the need for it in daily living and livelihoods increased, they allowed for filtered internet for home computers.

But the rabbis drew the line at smartphones. They organized the Rabbinical Committee for Communications, which, together with Israel’s three major cellular providers, created the “kosher” telephone — a stripped-down phone that blocks messaging, video, radio and internet.

The committee and the cellphone providers also created a dedicated set of numbers with their own area code, making it immediately obvious if a call is coming from an unsupervised device.

The committee blocked phone sex services — but also government welfare agencies, support centers for sexual and domestic violence (which the rabbis prefer to handle within the community) and secular organizations that assist people trying to leave the community.
Needless to say, it's wrong and reprehensible to prevent cellphone users from contacting centers providing aid to victims of sexual abuse. That's part and parcel of the mindset that enables sexual violence in the first place. If the Likud is elected come November, they'd do well to make sure Haredis seeking such aid aren't hindered. And these Haredi committees have no business determining who can use what smartphone, whether or not stores can sell to them, or anything else that intrudes upon daily lives of their subjects. This is an absolute disgrace that takes away attention from more important issues like Islamofascism.

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