Our extremists

Our extremists

Tehila Nachalon writes, “Now, more than ever, an unyielding commitment to unity and Jewish peoplehood is essential. This is not a battle against haredim, as many media outlets would have you believe. It is a battle to sustain the very democratic character of the Jewish state.” (“Tolerating differences, defending democracy,” Jan. 5).

Tensions between Orthodox Jews and the Israeli government have reached a flash point. My anger, as a Jew, comes from the fact that this minority has gotten away with far too much, in Israel and among the Jewish community worldwide.

The reasons for their power in Israel are understandable, since they vote in blocs, dictated by their rabbinic leaders. That gives such groups political power to be courted by electoral hopefuls. In the case of Israel’s parliamentary system, two very tiny religious parties helped cement the coalition that brought Netanyahu to power.

While it would be encouraging to see a countermovement against extremist elements, much of the problem rests with the refusal of Israel to impose a separation of synagogue and state. The actions of the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel are outrageous. Extremists are extremists whether they be Jewish, Muslim, Christian, or any other religion. People should have the right to practice their religious beliefs; however, when such beliefs entail forcing others to abide by their fundamentalism, they cross a dangerous line.

Phyllis Bernstein

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