Thursday, June 17, 2010

Israel On the Brink

Today marks what can potentially be a hugely significant day in the history of Israel of a State, as the Supreme Court of Israel has ordered the forced imprisonment of 44 couples for refusing to change their school's admission policy.

One thing I can tell you about this issue is that it is extremely complex, and far from a crude "Sephardi discrimination" case. I personally know 2 of the families that (if all goes according to the Supreme Court's plan) will be imprisoned tomorrow giving me a slightly more interesting picture than the journalists and bloggers who will be covering this event.

Some background: Our story takes place in the Shomron settlement community of Emmanuel, which prides itself as "the Bnei Brak of the Shomron". There is a Beis Yaakov girls school in Emmanuel, run primarily by Slonim Chassidim. The Beis Yaakov school is funded by the State-acknowledged, "Chinuch Atzmai", independent school system, and the curriculum is fully out of the hands of Israel's education ministry.

Emmanuel's Beis Yaakov has admission policies that are now stricter than others as a result of their alignment with the Slonim Chassidim, and as a result, less Sephardim are enrolled in the school. The admission policy is not exclusively a Sephardi-Ashkenazi issue, but also one of observance.

One of the parents of a girl who was rejected from the school took the case to Israel's Supreme Court, and the court ruled yesterday that Beis Yaakov in Emmanuel must admit everyone, equally. Especially since Beis Yaakov is State-funded (despite being a "Chinuch Atzmai, Independent Education" school), the State can demand that there be zero discrimination based on Ashkenazi/Sephardi background.

I agree 100% with the above statement, and if the school is State-funded, it has to play by the rules.

The Slonim Chassidim in Emmanuel have requested a permit for a totally independent, non-State funded school, so that they can have their own admission policy, and they will probably have that within the next month or so.

Yet, the Supreme Court decided that they needed to force the issue, and with only 2 weeks left to the school year, they ruled that the parents must open the school equally to all. Parents refusing to send their girls to the school as a result of the forced integration will be imprisoned for the remainder of the school year (2 weeks).

Here's where the story is so sad.

1. Of the 44 families (men and women) slated to go to jail tomorrow, at least 10 of them ARE SEPHARDIM. Their daughter are in the school currently as they accepted upon themselves the stringent criteria set forth by the school. Anyone who says that this is a simple case of discrimination is simply lying. If there are Sephardim in the school, who agree with the school's policy, then it can't be purely an issue of discrimination.

2. The school could have been legally closed 2 weeks early for the summer vacation, and started two weeks earlier at the end of the summer, when the whole issue will have been resolved.

3. Chareidim are organizing a massive demonstration tomorrow in Jerusalem and initial police estimates place the crowd at 250,000 people. If the Chareidim ever felt alienated before, sending 44 families to jail will be a brutal slap in the face.

4. Israel's Supreme Court is arrogantly forcing this issue, as anti-Chareidi elements dance in the streets and froth at the mouth for the opportunity to send 44 couples to jail. Examples include Tzippi Livni on IDF radio who repeated over and over; "break the law and you must go to jail". Is it really necessary to turn these 44 families into martyrs, and turn the entire Chareidi community against the State of Israel?

Lastly, Dr. Ephraim Shach, son of Ashkenazi Godol HaDor, R' Elazar Menachem Man Shach read a letter on Israel's Channel Bet radio today that his father wrote 19 years ago. The letter stated in no uncertain terms that Ashkenazi schools must admit Sephardim; not as a matter of policy, but as "halacha", with no excuses.

The Supreme Court believes it has won, as it will force "lawbreakers" to respect the rule of law.

The 44 families will believe they have won, as they will go to jail for 2 weeks and prove that the Zionist entity cannot break their will or force admissions policy on them.

The truth is -- we will have all lost.

Tomorrow, Israel will be on the brink. Will the government prevent the Supreme Court from sending 44 families to jail?

Reading material:

Minister urges haredi restraint in Emmanuel 'tragedy' : After ultra-Orthodox announce mass rally over expected imprisonment of parents who refuse to send children to school with Sephardic students, Religious Services Minister Margi tells Ynet, 'There are many ways to preserve ideology while complying with court ruling'. Security around Justice Levy boosted. Rabbi Yosef: Court ruling upsetting

Court to Emmanuel parents: Obey ruling or go to jail: High Court justices decide to put end to bureaucracy holding up implementation of ruling against discrimination between Ashkenazi and Sephardic pupils, say parent who fails to abide decision will be jailed for two weeks

Police brace for new haredi riots: Netanyahu calls for restraint after ruling in Emmanuel case.

Netanyahu urges restraint in segregated West Bank school row:
Police fear mass Haredi protests over High Court decision to jail defiant Ashkenazi parents who refuse to desegregate an ultra-Orthodox girls' school in the settlement of Immanuel.



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88 comments:

E-Man said...

1. Of the 44 families (men and women) slated to go to jail tomorrow, at least 10 of them ARE SEPHARDIM. Their daughter are in the school currently as they accepted upon themselves the stringent criteria set forth by the school. Anyone who says that this is a simple case of discrimination is simply lying. If there are Sephardim in the school, who agree with the school's policy, then it can't be purely an issue of discrimination.


Unfortunately, this statement is just not true. To give an extreme example, there were jews that went along with the holocaust, does that mean it wasn't anti-Jewish?

Fervent Marvin said...

The whole world should pay attention. It isn't just that Jews are racist against goyim. They're racist against everyone who isn't a racially pure white khazar ashke-NAZI Jew. Every day is a new atrocity that Jews are committing. Hopefully people will start to wake up. I know I did. I used to believe the myth about Jews being civilized westerners, but then I realized that they are wolves in sheeps clothing, taking over our media and academia, pretending to be like us. But even the Zionists can't control the internet, try as they might.

Anonymous said...

What do you expect? It's an illegal racist settlement. Of course they'll be racist.

E-Man said...

Fervent Marvin, what are you talking about????

Yo Muqata, do you always get such crazy people commenting?

Risa said...

The issue is not with these 44 couples but with the 250,000 or whatever people and their leaders who will hold the whole country hostage over random issues which only become major issues because the charedim need to flex their muscles and show the rest of us that the rules that apply to rest of the Jews in Israel are only suggestions (at best) for charedim.
There is little proportion between the significance of the issue to klal yisrael and the intensity of the reaction.
There is no justification for having finer and finer delineations among us and no, even nice people who are personally known to Jameel, don't have to get their way all the time. No, you can't have a school for every shade of black in the rainbow. And NO, it is not a reason to go to the barricades.
Where were all these fine people when we needed them five years ago to stop the really detrimental, degrading, divisive, malicious disengagement from Gush Katif???
Where were the hundreds of thousands committed to the freedom of nearly two thousand families to continue to live in the homes and communities they built???
פשוט חוצפה

NormanF said...

Religious Jews see the decision as another example of the leftist Supreme Court imposing the unelected leftist elite's preferences on them. That is why the Israeli Supreme Court is held in so little esteem by the public as its composition is not representative of the entire nation.

Avi said...

Jameel,

You disappoint me with this post.

You did not at all mention the background of refusal to comply with the law that prompted this. That's not right.

You think this may turn the Charedi community against the State. You mean, they're on the fence and this will do it? You can't be serious.

Lastly, they are not "lawbreakers".
They are lawbreakers, no quotes necessary.

Mark said...

and turn the entire Chareidi community against the State of Israel?

What do you mean "turn"? What have they done constructively towards supporting the State of Israel until now?

Mark

Menachem Lipkin said...

You're correct in stating that case is complex, but you provide no balance. For instance, while you decry the fact that these people may be sent to jail, you overlook the fact that all they needed to do was send their kids back to school for 2 weeks, just 2 weeks. As you stated the issue will most likely be resolved over the summer with the advent of a new school.

I wasn't in the court room, I didn't hear every detail of the case, nor did I read the decision of the court, as I guess is the case with most people writing and commenting about this issue. What I do see is a typically inflexible Chareidi attitude and a complete contempt for anything that the state does. It's that contempt for which these parents are being threatened with jail. Whether or not I agree with the decision, I do agree that people must abide by it or suffer the consequences.

The sad thing is that, over a mere 2 weeks, these parents are being grossly selfish. The violence and chilul Hashem that will most likely ensue today will be completely on their heads.

Jameel said...

Avi and others: Till a few days ago, I was extremely annoyed exclusively at the Chareidim for discrimination.

I think that imprisoning them to force the will of the State on them, when all they want to do is leave their kids at home for 2 weeks is ludicrous and wrong.

The parents are "selfish" over 2 weeks? Maybe the court is "selfish" over 2 weeks?

Even if the parents are 100% wrong, you will gain nothing by imprisoning them, make no point among the Chareidim except that they will feel even more alienated, and giving them an excuse to demonstrate and say what a "huge kiddish Hashem" they made by making them go to jail.

There's an expression - אל תהיה צודק, תהיה חכם - Dont be Justified, be Smart.

Can you show me how imprisoning 44 families is "smart" within the context of everything above?

Orange and Black said...

I see the court trying to use children as hostages. The court is demanding and is placing people, parents with B"H large families in jail. Who will watch over their kids as both parents sit in jail? These children are being used as hostages by the court to force the parents to comply. But not the first time either. The court has had other Settlers parents arrested, such as the Federmans', on a minuted notice leaving their little children to fend for themselves. This is not a child-friendly court

This is a battle, not about the school and certainly not about the law, but another step in the Supreme Court trying to enforce its personal worldviews on those who think and believe differently.

An acceptable compromise could have been worked out. But Supreme Court refused to allow any alternative solutions except the one they want to impose from above.

mother in israel said...

Agree with E-Man, the first commenter. It's well known that the typical ashkenazi school allows about 30% sepharadim. (It's almost a joke that this is the case here as well.) The ones who are let in are the best, brightest, and richest, and most willing to conform to haredi standards.The rest who apply are rejected. Ashkenazim are rarely rejected, and if there is not room for them, another school is quickly opened. Whenever you hear these stories, there is a "good" reason for the rejection--they don't live in the neighborhood, they aren't religious enough, the culture is different but there is one common factor. The ones who are rejected are always sephardim.

Anonymous said...

I do not want to see these parents in jail - it will solve nothing. However, the fact that 10 of them are Sephardic does not mean that this is not a discrimination issue. What percent of the students in the school are Sephardic? 25%? If not then the Sephardic families are over respresented in the families going to jail. One has to ask why.
I do epidemiology research and I was just told a sad story by a collegue. There is an Arab village outside Hevron (name escapes me) that is very hostile to Israel. The people who live in this village are descendants of Jews who were forcibly converted to Islam at the beginning of the last century. (My collegue has seen pictures of their grandparents wearing tefilin - it breaks my heart). They are particulary hostile because they have something to prove. Could it be that the Sephardic parents are going to jail for the same reason?
The bottom line is these Haredim could have used this as an opportunity for kiddush hashem and kiruv levavot and instead they are doing chilul hashem and sinat chinam.

Anonymous said...

"44 couples for refusing to change their school's admission policy."

Actually it's worse, they couldn't stop the court from change the school policy, so they kept their kids home. 44 parents are going to jail for refusing to send their kids to an environment they find unacceptable.

devorah said...

Israel should have sent military to close down the school once they were in non-compliance. Jailing the parents is an act that will only give martyrs to the cause.

The cause is wrong. People who were on the fence as to supporting Israel in the region no longer view the argument that Israel is a democracy as a positive. "A democracy? Really? Then how come there's segregation? How come a school can discriminate? How come there's racism? I see no difference between racism in Israel and racism (anti-Jewish) in Palestinian territory."

And they're right. And we've done Jews a disservice. My husband says that throughout yeshiva, he was always told to ask himself, "Is this is kiddush Hashem?"

Your quote, Jameel: "There's an expression - אל תהיה צודק, תהיה חכם - Dont be Justified, be Smart."

Exactly. The families and hanhalah of this school were stupid. Justified, maybe, perhaps, but I wouldn't call this a smart move.

Menachem Lipkin said...

Even if the parents are 100% wrong, you will gain nothing by imprisoning them, make no point among the Chareidim except that they will feel even more alienated, and giving them an excuse to demonstrate and say what a "huge kiddish Hashem" they made by making them go to jail.

This is valid. However, once the court handed down a decision and the families didn't comply there had to be consequences. Maybe it could have been financial, or some other means. Regardless, the Chareidim would have used it as a "cause" to martyr themselves.

Living in Beit Shemesh I've seen first hand that the "causes" can range from insignificant to mildly to important. (Rarely is it something catastrophic.) The reason this is happpening more and more is because the government is NOT enforcing the law with regard to them.

No decision of the court that went against them would have been accepted and any consequences would have been cause to protest.

Also, let's keep some perspective. A) This was a case BROUGHT by Chareidim. The supreme court did not just wake up one day and decide to stick its nose into Emanuel.
B) The court is not asking to send the girls to a secular, mixed, public school for 2 weeks. It's a Beis Yaakov for God's sake and one they were all attending before this happened.

The need need to compromise is not equal. The court has an obligation to uphold the rule of law in society. The parents have an obligation, yes to follow their ideals, but also, as Torah Jews, to minimize Chilul Hashem and violence.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

The Beis Yaakov school is in general, open to all. As MII wrote, only about 30% of the school is Sephardi.

However, the issue specifically in question is the "Hassidic" track of the school, which has 75 girls in it, of which, 23 are Spehardi. To be in the Hassidic track, you need to agree to their Hassidic Ashkenazic chumrot. 23 girls in that track (and their parents) have agreed to those chumrot and behave as such.

The court case is being brought by a girl's family rejected from the Hassidic track, because they don't want to accept the Hassidic Chummrot.

e-man and MII: Are you saying that because Sephardim accept the chumrot, they are discriminating against those that don't? Should a private school be entitled to have its own admission standards?

I agree that a publicly funded school should meet minimum criteria, but the Slonim chassidim want their own private school, even without State funding.

Orange and Black said...

The Supreme Court issued a proclamation today that if the parents request it in writing, they will allow the parents to alternate which one of them stays in jail at any time. Otherwise both go.
Another attempt to force the Chareidim to accept the authority of the court. Just like when they jailed the minors (settlers) for months on end when they refused to say their names.

Orange and Black said...

From what I just heard, the person who filed the complaint with the Supreme Court, while a resident of Emmanuel, does not have any children in either school.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Menachem: We live in such a delicately balanced society, the Supreme Court is absolutely the wrong place for it to be resolved.

The Knesset is representative of the people, the court is not. The Knesset can pass laws, the court can not, yet it selectively enforces laws according to their agenda, world view and their application of judicial activism.

Putting the issue into perspective: this issue was not brought in a vacuum in Emmanuel, but outside forces are pushing the issue -- specifically, the New Israel Fund. (See here)

I agree with you 100% that violence at today's hafgana would be a Chilul Hashem. Do you think that the 44 families going to jail over their principles is also a chilul Hashem?

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Devorah; Israel should have sent military to close down the school once they were in non-compliance. Jailing the parents is an act that will only give martyrs to the cause.

That's a far better a solution than imprisoning 44 couples.

Jailing the 44 couples also directly punishes the children of those parents.

Menachem Lipkin said...

Do you think that the 44 families going to jail over their principles is also a chilul Hashem?

No.

freideleebs said...

Nothing like Sin'at Chinam to keep Mashiach away :-(

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Freideleebs: I don't think the issue is sinat chinam...more like the Supreme Court's insisting on subjugating everyone to accept their worldview.

Orange and Black said...

Jameel-In the Chareidi velt it has been said for a while that the person involved has been getting outside money to create and instigate certain problems in Emmnauel. Now you say the NIF is involved. I didn't know that until you showed that link.
2+2=

jonathan becker said...

where the heck are the "black panthers"? doesn't shas have anything at all to say about this? why are the mizrachim silent?

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Jonathan: You are missing the point. Shas isn't going crazy over this issue because they know its not a case of discrimination (30% of the girls in the Hassidic track are Sephardi, and their parents are willing to GO TO JAIL, in order to keep the "high standards" of their curriculum track)

Aryeh Deri said very clearly yesterday and today that this is NOT a case of discrimination.

Menachem Lipkin said...

Though I really can't stand the author of this article, I think it really gives a balanced background of what's going on.

http://www.jpost.com/Home/Article.aspx?id=178028

Regardless of whether you think the supreme court is nefariously motivated or not, at this point, and it's probably too late, it is completely within the hands of the defendants here to stop this. They could just have their daughters go to the school and sit and read tehillim or whatever. Or the parents, apparently now just one per family, could quietly go to jail for their ideals and leave it at that.

But we all know that there are elements in the Chareidi who relish any pretext to protest against evil Zionist entity. So, this is now no longer about Emanuel, it's a new oppurtunity for Chareidi muscle flexing, no matter what the cost.

I walked through RBS B a short while ago, the posters are up, the language is inflammatory, there's electricity in the air. The underlying has become irrelevant.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Menachem: The Slonim Rebbe decided that only the men from each family should go and not the women; the court has not acknowledged this at all.

There are just as many elements in the anti-Chareidi camp who will relish any opportunity to quash the evil Chareidi entity.

See Yair Lapid's op-ed today if you want any more proof.

As I wrote, this entire issue has become explosive, from all sides, and in the end, all of us as a country will lose.

I heard that R' Elyashiv said its "not bittul Todah" to attend the demonstration today, and yeshivas are gearing up to send their entire student population.

They could just have their daughters go to the school and sit and read tehillim or whatever The chareidim want to stand by their principles that Israel cannot dictate their admission standards -- they offer the option for everyone to agree to their standards, which is why 30% of the girls in the track are Sephardi. It has come down to everyone standing for their principles...

Regardless of the above, I find myself agreeing with the religious Sephardi politicians who have been interviewed on the radio, and disgusted by the Ashkenazi ones.

One particular comment this morning was that, "Our school in Bnei Brak has all sorts of different tracks which everyone agrees with. We have a track for girls whose parents work for a living...and a track for girls whose fathers are 'Bnei Torah'"

Akiva said...

Sorry Menachem, this might be the first hafgana that I actually go join. The court could order the State to de-fund the school because it doesn't meet legal standards. They could order the school closed because it doesn't follow court orders.

Those are thing within the realm of State activity...funding, verifying a proper (safe, whatever) environment.

They could order the police to escort the students who they say were discriminated against into the school. They can require the teachers to continue to teach if they want to continue to get State funding for the school.

But to require the parents to have their children attend? You think it's ok to have the Court or State physically control my personal activity or personal parenting decisions (as long as they don't endanger my children and provide their basic needs)?

The Court has stepped beyond the institution directly to the people. So in Israel there's NO PERSONAL LIBERTY? And you're ok with that?

I for one am not, and feel that's worth legally protesting over.

Mikeage said...

Akiva,

Many countries deny parents the ability to choose not to educate their children. Israel's tolerance of unofficial schools actually puts it in a minority.

That said, once they've done that, the status quo is being changed. Removing the school from Ch"A would be a much "better" (legally; I'm not saying morally) solution.

Menachem Lipkin said...

No, I don't like when the state forces people to do things. But states do. No country provides total personal liberty. Nor should they. That would lead to chaos. So there's always a tension between personal liberty and public welfare.

Just like the US, Israel has mandatory education laws. You legally have to send you kids to school and the state can force you to. Not very libertarian, but that's the way it is. Forced integration in the South was very similar to this.

It seems that there were a lot of wrongs done here, all around. I support peaceful public protest and if, by some miracle this turns out to be one then great. But the track record isn't good and the Gedolim should know better.

Yes, this has come down to everyone standing on their "principles". But the supreme court is a secular-based legal apparatus. The other side are Torah-based people who should be able to take the "high road" and do what's best for themselves, their children, and their community.

Anonymous said...

yet with the NIFs involvement this looks more like a purposeful instigation to attack ultraorthodox society.

Numbers that Shape our Lives said...

Who is the Supreme Court attacking?

240 children
17 nursing infants
2 handicapped children

These are those who will suffer if their parents are sent to jail by Israel's Supreme Court.

Baruch Alster said...

I think there has been one thing overliiked in the debate. There is a big question whether there is ethnic discrimination here. Who decides if there is or isn't? That is definitely a judicial issue. The presiding judge, Edmond Levy, is far from the standard anti-religious liberal justice, and he has been supportive of religious causes in many cases. I think in this case he really thinks thee has been ethnic discrimination. Once that's his (and the other justices') opinion, he will rightly use any power he has to stop it. I don't know how wise it is to davka put the parents in jail, but being 'smart, not right' is not necessarily the job of justices, but rather of politicians.

Menachem Lipkin said...

Who is the Supreme Court attacking?

Or, who are the parents abandoning?

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Baruch: 27% of the girls in the Beis Yaakov Hassidic track are Sephardi.

Isn't that high enough a number to speak for itself?

The Supreme Court has only 1 Sephardi judge on it out of 15. Does that make it discriminatory?!

The Supreme Court would answer: G-d forbid we discriminate. We will gladly accept any Sephardi that meets our standards, right?

Doesn't that sound identical to what Beis Yaakov is saying?

The Secular News1 website makes a similar point. Worth Reading.

Anonymous said...

Menachem: So the parents should abandon their principles to avoid the Court's punishment?

Menachem Lipkin said...

Menachem: So the parents should abandon their principles to avoid the Court's punishment?

All I was pointing out is that there's different perspectives on who's "hurting" the kids.

You're making the point that to the parents, it's worth it to abandon their kids for their principle.

We're with Emmanuel! said...

Here's the theme song for todays hafgana:

http://www.kikarhashabat.co.il/%D7%A2%D7%9E%D7%A0%D7%95%D7%90%D7%9C-17.html

Baruch Alster said...

Jameel,
I'm not saying Levy is right on the facts. However, it's his call, and in general, he's trustworthy (unlike most of his colleagues). But one has to remember that the discrimination in haredi schools is not a case of "No Sefaradim allowed", but rather of limits on their number. So the 30% Sefaradim in a small town with many Sefaradim like Immanuel is not enough to decide who's right. As such discrimination is widely considered (by haredim!) to be rampant in haredi society, I think the judges were not going out-of-bounds with this one. You may not agree with their interpretation of the facts, but it's hard to say that the facts are unequivocally against them.

One more thing: What I have said so far is what I think of the court decision per se. From a religious perspective, sending a Jew away from a religious school because she doesn't accept all my chumras, and not allowing my daughters to socialize with those who don't (according to news reports, the girls in the different tracks weren't even allowed to have recess at the same time) are highly problematic, and defending such behavior the way it's done in the haredi press and the way it's presented by the parents is hillul Hashem, not qiddush Hashem. So from that point of view, they're just getting what they seem to deserve, just like the torani and Hardal schools in PT last year in the Ethiopian case.

Arthur said...

Many things are curious about this case, first and foremost is why is Shas silent. Through all of the years this has gone on Shas has been silent why this is the type of thing that started shas as a party.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Baruch: I don't think its coincidental that everyone is trashing Emanuel. What could be a better target than settlers AND Chareidim in the same shot?

If discrimination is rampant in hareidi schools, why is Emanuel being singled out?

Again, the parents were all offered the option of accepting the crazy chumrot of the Slonimer Chassidim, and 30% of the class who are Sephardi accepted them.

The socialization issue is one of their chumrot. Again, Sephardim can accept that if they wish...it's not a ban on socializing with Sephardim, its a ban on socializing with the non-Hassidic track (and there are Ashkenazni girls in the non-Hassidic track as well!)

That said, I would NEVER send my kids to Beis Yaakov.

I will speak to my daughter about the socialization aspect in her Ulpana -- they have an Ethiopian track as well, and I think my daughter has little to do with them. While some are mainstreamed in my daughter's class, the majority of the Ethiopian girls are in a separate track.

Anonymous said...

Arthur; Could it be Shas is silent because there's no discrimination going on? Aryeh Deri himself said so as well this morning.

Baruch Alster said...

Two opinion pieces by moderate haredim who write regularly for Ynet and are not towing the party line (I know Farkash isn't representative, but Hayoun - or however he spells it - sounds pretty haredi in most of his articles):

http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3906545,00.html

http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3906085,00.html

JoeSettler said...

Some of my Sephardi relatives in Bnei Brak send their kids to Chareidi schools because they want that method of Torah education for their kids. The schools makes certain demands from the parents (dress, activities, etc.) if they want their kids in the school. The parents accept that.

There was no discrimination issue. The schools want all their students they are molding to not get a different message at home - religiously or socially.

Nor do they want their students associating with other kids who are not getting that stain of education, who might influence them differently.

Yes it's a closed and unhealthy system, but it's how they choose to be. Isn't that their basic human right?

Commenter Abbi said...

It's not a basic human right to have your unhealthy choices funded by the state, especially if they destroy other people's human rights not to be discriminated against.

Baruch Alster said...

Jameel,

The petitioners in the Immanuel case are Sefaradi haredim. They have no anti-religious agenda. Their rabbinic leader is R. Yaakov Yosef, who is as pro-settler as they come. The specific judge in the case is not anti-religious or anti-settler, as his record on these issues is well-known (BTW, just the other day he gave the minority opinion supporting avtahat hachnasa to avrechim, citing the importance of limmud Torah in the Jewish tradition). And the press have paid a lot of attention to discrimination issues in religious schools in other locales as well - petitioner Yoav Lalum has been interviewed many times on the matter. A certin first-grade girl threatened by a Bet-Shemesh principal comes to mind for this year, and the Petah Tikva Ethiopian scandal for last.

BTW, in the Ulpana in question, I do not believe ther is any discrimination, but rather an attempt to mainstream as many girls as possible. There are also AFAIK Ethiopian teachers there, and the school is quite proud of its Ethiopian alumni.

Baruch Alster said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Abbi: Should they be allowed to have private schooling that discriminates?

Baruch: I also don't think the Uplana is discriminatory (which is why I send my daughter there :) However, I can see a similar situation arising there if an Ethiopian girl demanded to be mainstreamed if she doesn't meet the qualifications...

Personally, I think that Judge Edmond Levy is in a minority on this issue, and the other judges who are the majority, are democratically forcing him to do things he would rather not.

Did you read the article on the KR8 website about the NIF link to the petitioners?

For the record, my #1 qualm about this entire issue is that the court is forcing jail time on the parents.

Even if there was blatant discrimination, I think forced jail-time is the worst possible outcome.

I'm not justifying discrimination, I just don't believe (or I'm not fully convinced) that there is discrimination in this case.

JoeSettler said...

But the state funds and makes us fund plenty of unhealthy choices. The TV tax is just the first item that pops into my mind.

Commenter Abbi said...

TV is not unilaterally unhealthy as discrimination is. The state forcing you to buy and smoke cigarettes would be comparable.


Jameel, yes, they should be allowed to have their own private discriminatory school. But that's simply not possible for the this school year. They tried to sneak around the law and discriminate using state funds and got caught. When you get caught breaking the law you pay the consequences.

Commenter Abbi said...

And I will add that I think it's much better for the community in the long run that the charedim learn their lesson. They cannot strongarm the state and the rest of Israel into doing their bidding. They have to learn their place, however painful it is for all of us in the short term.

JoeSettler said...

From what I recall (from when I used to have a TV) the news and pundit shows on the TV were quite discriminatory against Settlers.

Anonymous said...

I recall reading Hickory Flavor say almost the same thing this week.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Abbi: How do you think the school is discriminating? They have an admissions policy -- anyone who wants to adhere to it is welcome, which is why 30% of the class is Sephardi.

How is punishing the parents of this school teaching the community a lesson?

If anything, those "guilty" are the school administrators or rabbanim who insist on the admission policy.

The parents just want to leave their kids at home for 2 weeks...is that so terrible?

I don't think they tried to "sneak around the law and discriminate using state funds and got caught" -- but they were doing this publicly, because they see nothing wrong with a stringent admission and compliance policy.

Its the same as any Beis Yaakov anywhere...

(not that I agree with the Beis Yaakov philosophy).

I view this similarly to minors arrested by Israel's police at nationalistic demonstrations, who refuse to identify themselves and they want to show that their arrest is "political"

Yes, its "wrong" not to identify themselves, but for the court to jail minors?! And for weeks on end?

Is that really the best way to "educate?"

Baruch Alster said...

Jameel,
Re: NIF. Anyone who has heard of R. Yaakov Yosef knows he is considered extreme right-wing politically. I wouldn't make too much of the funding issue. Yes, this is obviously a case where the anti-religious and anti-settler elements in our society will have a field day. But that doesn't mean we have to keep covering up discrimination (which is what Lalum's organization has been fighting since its inception). I personally think that these issues must be confronted publicly, whether the imediate consequences help us or hurt us politically.

I also don't think jail is the best solution, but I think the deision is legitimate, and does not warrant the cries of antisemitism we hear from the haredim. BTW, AFAIK, Justic Levy led the verdict of discrimination - he is one of the few judges who has no problem voicinga minority opinion, as we all saw earlier this week.

That said, just as the haredim have it coming to them, so does the court (as a group, not Justice Levy personally).

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Baruch: I know that R' Yaakov Yosef is extremely pro-Yesha.

What exactly is discriminatory at the school? I havent gotten a clear answer from any source. Is it the admittance to the "Hassidic" track? Is it the lack of interaction with the non-Chassidic track? (even though that also has Ashkenazim in it).

As I wrote, I think everyone is losing from this, as both sides dig in deeper.

There's a new flotilla on its way, and we're going to have the whole world condemning us. This fracture will make it even more difficult to deal with threats from outside us.

Baruch Alster said...

Jameel,
IIUC, the alleged discrimination is in acceptance of only a limited number of Sefaradim to the Hasidic track. Again, I can't say if there was any real discrimination here or not, just that it's legitimate to think so.

Commenter Abbi said...

Having a quota for sephardim and separating a certain group away from other children (and teach them to look down on the other kids) at a state funded school is discrimination. Why is that so hard to see as discriminatory? Should they be able to teach their kids the way they want to? Sure, not using state funding. Does this happen at all BY's? Probably, but only one person brought one court case against this particular school.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Abbi: I didnt read anywhere about a quota.

As for keeping the groups separate -- there's elitism everywhere in Israel's society. That doesn't make it discrimination, if everyone allowed to join the elitist group.

Is there a quota for Sephardim on the Supreme Court? There's only 1 out of 15 there...

Seth (Avi) Kadish · אבי קדיש said...

Hi Jameel. The vast, vast majority of the time this blog is a beacon of light, standing up for what is right, for life and freedom, even against the whole world. And also with a healthy sense of humor! I love it, and hope you'll keep up the great work. I recommend your blog to everyone.

But on this one you have it totally wrong, and like the rest of the world does regarding Israel, judging things superficially from what they read in the papers and see on the news, letting the media define the issues for them -- so too have you done regarding this issue.

"Admissions policies"? For goodness sake. Israelis in general know that the whole concept of admissions policies, seemingly "neutral", are the greatest tool for racism in the State of Israel. Some know and delight in using the tool, their goal being to interact as much as possible only with those who are "our kind of people" (mishelanu). Others sigh and give up fighting against those who wield the tool.

Often the tool backfires, making those who wield it ultimately irrelevant to the larger public (the residents of Yesh"a communities with admissions policies being the ultimate example).

Ashkenazic charedim in Immanuel want "mishelanu" for their daughters. Charedim in general want "mishelanu" in Immanuel, Beitar, etc. Nationalist "Torani" charedim want "mishelanu." Well-to-do secular Israelis want "mishelanu" in the yishuvim of Misgav. Lots and lots of Israelis want "mishelanu" so lots and lots of them use the "admissions policy" tool.

Shas in general hasn't stressed "mishelanu." They know how to include. That is exactly why they are so incredibly successful at election time.

The question of course is whether the State can (legally) or should (morally) allow the use of "admissions policy" for schools or community settlements. This was the real issue in Petah Tikva (despite the idiocies printed in the press). And this is the real issue in Immanuel today.

Where I live there is an Ashkenazi-charedi-run school (Chinuch Atzmai) that is mostly "white". A good number of Sephardim, but far less that what would be expected from the general population. So are they racist? One the one hand, they are happy to take any and all Sephardic children who are willing to become like them. But on the other hand, that is the exact expectation: If you are willing to accept the superiority of our model and want to become "mishelanu" then the door is open. But if you want to remain your own person with your own values and traditions, then this publicly funded school has no place for your child.

Israeli admissions policies are hidden evil, much as "disagreeing with Israel doesn't make me anti-Semitic" is actually a hidden way to support genocide.

Another relevant form of evil that shouldn't remain hidden (even though the media isn't talking about it today): What gives any modern State the legal and moral right to let parents prevent their children from getting a general education? Not only that, but even to actively fund such schools?!

In other words: Sephardic charedim, Ashkenazic charedim -- who ultimately cares about racism in such a severe context? Isn't enforced poverty and forcibly closing off future opportunities for higher education and livelihood an even greater moral failing than racism?

As far as the idea that the Supreme Court isn't being smart even if they are right, that is also like similar criticisms of Israel from abroad. Actually the Supreme Court is doing too little too about these injustices. Anything they do regarding charedim will likely cause massive demonstrations and social strife. But better late than never...

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Hi Seth! Great to hear from you!

I have alot to reply -- will get back to this soon.

Auu said...

Fraggin bullpoop, who is the one to judge and decide "level of religiousness of their families" ?!

And even if pupils families are not religious - they have a right to pay and send their girls in school which will teach them how to "raise above their parents" if they look at it that way.

Even if that school becomes private company and set on "education market" - then it's services have to be available to everybody who wants to pay for it.

Commenter Abbi said...

Comparing the supreme court to elementary schools is absolutely fallacious. One has absolutely nothing to do with another. In an case, as far as I know, the Sephardi supreme court judge is no required to eat in a separate dining room or use a separate toilet.

All BY's have quotas, ask any random charedi on the street and they'll confirm it. Just as in the Civil Rights era in the US, the charedim have a vicious streak of racism that has to be eradicated judicially, just as it was in the US. Would you be siding with George Wallace instead of MLK if you were blogging then? Frightening to even imagine.

Avrohom said...

The fact that there are Sephardim in the school does not prove that its not a racial discrimination issue. In order to get accepted to the school they had to give up there sephardi customs and adopt the Ashkenazi Charedi customs.Thats a very sad result of the many years of Ashkenazi supremism in the Chareidi world, witch made them realize that inorder to be a "real" Charedi you have to give up the ways of your ancestors and adopt ours.
Thats pretty racist in my opinion.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Abbi: The stated comparison with the Supreme Court was about quotas or representation, not about segregation.

AFAIK, the BY school in Emmanuel has an open policy to Sephardim with no quota for the general (not-Chassidic) track.

The issue of eradicating elitism through the judiciary is impossible and wrong.

All the Chassidim will do "legally" is open their own school next year, privately funded, and you can be sure they won't let anyone near the school who they think is different than them.

That will not have fundamentally resolved anything, let alone the elitism, except that the school won't be State funded.

Avrohom's does make a very valid point, that Ashkeanzi supremacy has led to crazy demands, including giving up Sephardi customs and adopting the Ashkenazi Charedi customs.

However, the blame ALSO lies with the Sephardi Chareidi establishment.

Even R' Ovadia Yosef now has his Ashkenazi clothing and black hat. The Porat Yosef yeshiva is full of sephardi students that wear black hats and even try to accent their Hebrew with Yiddish. Black hats have absolutely nothing to do with Sephardic culture, yet they are adopted to fit in, due to Ashkenazi supremacy.

Putting all the blame on these 44 families and imprisoning them is simply wrong.

Avi: I think I'll call you about this since Ive got no more time to type now ;-)

mother in israel said...

e-man and MII: "Are you saying that because Sephardim accept the chumrot, they are discriminating against those that don't? Should a private school be entitled to have its own admission standards?"

The question is this. Imagine two girls of ashkenazi and sephardi background who are exactly the same in terms of religious observance. They both apply to the school. Do they have an equal chance of getting in? Will the school flip a coin?
If they reject the sephardi girl reads with a taf and not a saf, it's discrimination. If they reject her because her grandparents have a TV, it's discrimination. These are all excuses. When all of the excuses "happen" to apply to the sephardi girls, and never apply, and are never used, against ashkenazi girls, it's discrimination. End of story. They will let in a certain number of the best sephardi children, to "prove" that they don't discriminate (and I am surprised that you quoted that argument as "proof").

Can anyone say with a straight face that an Ashkenazi and sephardi girls' chances of getting in are exactly the same? And before you say that it's an ashkenazi school, who decided that the beit yaakov in Emanuel should be only for ashkenazim?

There are many cases of minorities who go along with the majority's discriminatory policies. Why shouldn't they, if they are benefiting from their kids being in the "right" school. Why should they protest? My take:
http://www.amotherinisrael.com/parents-emanuel-bet-yaakov-students-set-jail/
Read Rafi's take,
http://lifeinisrael.blogspot.com/2010/06/qotd_17.html
and the comment thread for anecdotes about sephardim who changed their names to get their kids into yeshiva.

Menachem Lipkin said...

If anyone is interested, here's the SC decision in English.

http://elyon1.court.gov.il/files_eng/08/670/010/o24/08010670.o24.pdf

I'm not a lawyer, but it seems reasonable. And reasonable people should have been able to deal with it.

What I find fascinating, and it should be illustritive to people who decry how "secular" the court is, is this final comment in an amendment to the decision by Justice Melcer.

In closing, I think it is superfluous to mention that the school that is the focus of the petition is called Beit Yaakov. This name is derived from the well-known verse in the Book of Exodus, 19, 3 [45], which speaks of the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. The verse says: ... thus you shall say to the house of Jacob (Heb. Beit Yaakov), and speak to the children of Israel.‘ Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki (Rashi) explains: Thus you shall say — in this language and in this order: to the house of Jacob (Beit Yaakov) — these are the women... and tell the children of Israel — the men.‘ From this we can see two things:

(a) The Torah was given to women first (see: A. Weinroth, Feminism and Judaism (2001), at p. 58).
(b) In this verse, a distinction was only made between Beit Yaakov and the children of Israel, and it follows that any other or additional distinction, including in a school that bears the name Beit Yaakov, involves prohibited and improper discrimination.
We should remember and remind ourselves that the approach is that all the children of Jacob are equal. The Midrash states:

Rabbi Yehoshua of Sachnin said in the name of Rabbi Levy: the names of the tribes are not given everywhere in the same order, but sometimes one order is used, and at other times another order is used, so that people will not say that because they are superior the names of the sons of the mistresses (i.e., Leah and Rachel) were given first, and the names of the sons of the maid-servants (i.e., Zilpah and Bilhah) were given afterwards, thereby teaching you that they are all equal.
(Midrash Sechel Tov (Buber edition), Exodus, Introduction [46]).

Mark said...

Jameel - That's a far better a solution than imprisoning 44 couples.

I agree. Sending them to prison won't help the situation.

A much better solution is to declare that no government funding will be sent to that school (or any other school that discriminates illegally or that refuses to permit public oversight).

Mark said...

JoeSettler - Yes it's a closed and unhealthy system, but it's how they choose to be. Isn't that their basic human right?

No it is not. Especially not when others are paying for it ... and paying in more ways than one.

mother in israel said...

Jameel wrote (10am), However, the issue specifically in question is the "Hassidic" track of the school, which has 75 girls in it, of which, 23 are Spehardi. To be in the Hassidic track, you need to agree to their Hassidic Ashkenazic chumrot. 23 girls in that track (and their parents) have agreed to those chumrot and behave as such.

You're leaving out the fact that the Hasidic track was started specifically to separate the existing students from the newcomers. The first ruling months ago, or was it last year already?, was against the hasidic school, which erected a fence and separated the original students from the undesirables who stayed behind in the original school (or was the space divided in two? not sure). The ashkenazi chumrot were designed to keep out those sephardi girls, as I explained a few comments up.

Tzipporah said...

"The Slonim Rebbe decided that only the men from each family should go and not the women; the court has not acknowledged this at all."

And why should it? Why in the world should the civil court give a hoot what some rabbi says?

This is the problem with Israel.

Get a constitution. Agree that EVERYONE has to abide by the laws. And put civil recognition of public status issues into the hands of the civil authorities.

Lion of Zion said...

JAMEEL:

i always enjoy your posts even though i'm though too busy to comment recently. but i couln't stop shaking my head in disagreement as i read this one.

i don't really have anything to add to the above comments, but i felt compelled to comment after reading this comment:

"Our school in Bnei Brak has all sorts of different tracks which everyone agrees with. We have a track for girls whose parents work for a living...and a track for girls whose fathers are 'Bnei Torah'"

my gosh. this proves to me just how screwed up the education system is in israel (from a social perspective). and it's not just about sephardim vs. ashkenazim or hasidim vs. non-hasidim. the whole system is just plain divisive.

(btw, i think one of the first posts of yours that i ever commented on had to do a controversy over admissions in a school.)

bacci40 said...

i hope american jews who support voucher programs are watching this

this is what happens when you have secular state funding of religious schools

however, this is the worst time to have fighting between charedi and the secular

but if these protests were all non violent...it was a big kiddush hashem

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Bacci40: The protests were all (thankfully) non violent.

LoZ: I was also disgusted when I heard that comment! (And I wrote that as well!)

My main point is that I think its wrong to imprison parents over this.

Want to close the school? Fine.

Remove their funding? Fine.

Have the police give protection for everyone to learn in the same class? Fine.

Arrest the parents? I think that's encroachment on their personal civil liberties -- if they want to discriminate on their own dime, in a private school, then its their problem.

(And yes, discrimination is wrong, and encroaches on others civil liberties, but 2 wrongs don't make a right and accomplishes nothing).

E-Man said...

Isn't it illegal to keep your kids from going to school and do nothing instead? Isn't that why they are being put in jail?

Hypocrite Bounty Hunter said...

To all those screaming to see the blood of Chareidim, so you can dance as they spend 2 weeks in jail:

Why is that when Anat Kamm commits espionage against the State of Israel, steals hundreds of top secret IDF documents and gives them to a Haaretz reporter, loses a disk worth of stolen documents and her actions directly threaten the lives of Israel's soldiers and citizens, SHE WAS ONLY PUT UNDER HOUSE ARREST.

And these parents you want jailed for 2 weeks?

If you think these parents are more of a danger to the state of Israel and deserve WORSE treatment than a traitor like Anat Kamm, you're all sick.

Shame on you.

Hypocrite Bounty Hunter said...

To all those screaming to see the blood of Chareidim, so you can dance as they spend 2 weeks in jail:

Why is that when Anat Kamm commits espionage against the State of Israel, steals hundreds of top secret IDF documents and gives them to a Haaretz reporter, loses a disk worth of stolen documents and her actions directly threaten the lives of Israel's soldiers and citizens, SHE WAS ONLY PUT UNDER HOUSE ARREST.

And these parents you want jailed for 2 weeks?

If you think these parents are more of a danger to the state of Israel and deserve WORSE treatment than a traitor like Anat Kamm, you're all sick.

Shame on you.

Lion of Zion said...

JAMEEL:

the arrest of the parents is a footnote on a bigger issue and the haredim are using the arrest to detract from the bigger issue. (and you really think that if the parents weren't arrested and instead the school was closed or police sent to enforce intergration then there wouldn't have been a mass hafgana?)

the 2 things i took from your post:

1) the parents were unjustly arrested. well from a legal standpoint maybe yes, maybe no. but in any case i find it hard to be sympathetic toward parents who think their own children are so holy.(and what lesson do the kids take home that their parents pulled them out at the risk of going to jail rather than have them mix those who are different [i didn't say sefardi]?)

b) this is a slap in the face of the haredim. so what? i can't believe that it's come to the point where a commenter above thinks that "if these protests were all non violent...it was a big kiddush hashem" and you resond "thank god" they were non-violent. when did frum jews holding a peaceful demonstration become a kiddush hashem?

HYPOCRITE:

what does one have to do with the other?

i'm sure most of us here would be more than happy to see her in front of a firing squad rather under house arrest.

Lion of Zion said...

JAMEEL and BACCI40:

a kiddush hashem would have been for rav elyashiv to ask the parents to continue sending their kids to the school.

BACCI40:

"i hope american jews who support voucher programs are watching this"

i was thinking the same thing

Anonymous said...

Thank goodnees for theCourts to put an end to Israels racist ,sexist homophobic policies.
Today its schools tomorrow marriage!
The corts will mandate ashkenazim marry Sephardim.
Then they can mandate Jews marry Arabs.
They can then force straights to marry gays.
Just think Jameel you can be forced to marry a shemale like the Beargirl

Anonymous said...

"i hope american jews who support voucher programs are watching this"

i was thinking the same thing

With Justices who believe in a "living breathing Constitution" , the US courts can already do that just on the basis of the schools salt shakers


Dovie

Gila said...

Interesting POV on the topic:

http://www.haaretz.com/magazine/week-s-end/a-man-where-there-are-no-men-1.296953

Vicious Babushka said...

I went to a public high school over 40 years ago. There were also "tracks" at that high school. There was a "track" for math/science, a "track" for visual arts, a "track" for music and performing arts, and in order to enroll in any "track" you had to show an aptitude, a minimum GPA to get into the math/science track, a portfolio for the visual arts "track" and audition for the music and performance "tracks"

You can also bet the farm that the math geeks did not hang out with the artists, and the artists did not hang with the musicians and the thespians.

These "tracks" are nothing but cliques and promote snobbery, but snobbery should not be a crime.

Jameel said...

These "tracks" are nothing but cliques and promote snobbery, but snobbery should not be a crime.

Israel needs to be able to tolerate differences, even snobs and elitism, while trying to ensure its no discriminatory.

bataween said...

An excellent comment, to which I have linked
Point of No Return blog

Chayn said...

The line "If the Chareidim ever felt alienated before, sending 44 families to jail will be a brutal slap in the face." is absurd. The Ashkenazi Hasidim have worked very hard to alienate everyone esle, not only by insisting on living in extremely homogenous societies, but by carrying on the ways they brought with them from Europe with little tolerance for anything else. Besides that, they outwardly scorn the state and its institutions, and become involved politically only to see that their own interests are served. They have given a clear message of - leave us alone!

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