Bintel Blog

Offbeat Israel: Posh Tel Aviv Residents Protest Haredi Influx

By Nathan Jeffay

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When the people of Ramat Aviv are taking to the streets in protest, you know the end really must be nigh. The high-life-living residents of this exceedingly wealthy Tel Aviv neighborhood are more likely to be seen corking a fine bottle of wine than waving a banner.

So what has happened in the past couple of weeks to bring this privileged population out in protest?

The supposed ill: The relocation of Haredi families to their neighborhood. Around 100 Ramat Aviv residents held a meeting at which they voiced alarm that Haredi families are moving in and opening Orthodox institutions such as kindergartens.

The residents resolved to pressure local businesses to stop Haredim from encouraging the laying of tefillin near their businesses. They also vowed to send vigilantes to check that nobody is handing out religious literature near schools, and even went so far as to map apartments where Haredim currently live and encourage people to rent apartments to others instead. They held protests against a Haredi influx.

Some residents at the meeting suggested trying to entice local Haredim in to secular culture.

“If anyone were to behave this way toward Israeli Arabs, the residents might raise a hue and cry, but when it comes to Haredim the gloves are off because attacking the ‘blacks’ is the fashion,” Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy, who is generally far from complimentary about the religious community, wrote in response to the protests.

Levy concluded: “Until we learn to accept those who are different or exceptional, we cannot call ourselves a tolerant and just society. Hatred of Haredim in Ramat Aviv, or Arabs in Safed, is the same disease. Is the cashier in your supermarket wearing hijab? That’s heartwarming. Next let’s let her wear a hat, or a wig.”


The big sticking point in all Israeli-Palestinian talks is the right of return for Palestinians, with Israelis across the political spectrum opposing this notion. It’s fascinating, therefore, that an Israeli lawmaker has decided that Israel should welcome some Palestinians. The twist is that he isn’t talking about a right of return, but rather the possibility of Israel becoming a sanctuary for Homosexual Palestinians. See the Ynet report on this intriguing proposal.



Comments
Joel Katz Wed. May 20, 2009

In a recent Ynetnews.com article titled The battle for democracy the Ramat Aviv Action Committee specifically noted the following:

"So to set the record straight, the neighborhood in question is not the upscale Ramat Aviv Gimel (not that they should be stigmatized either.) It is a neighborhood of small apartments populated by middle class residents. You will not find jeeps, Filipino nannies, or luxurious penthouses here."

Much of your information appears to be drawn from the JPost.com article Ramat Aviv gears up for unholy battle between residents.

Your choice of the word "vigilante" to describe the activists is curious. According to one definition, a vigilante is a person who violates the law in order to exact what they believe to be justice from criminals. Members of community watch programs and others who use legal means of bringing people to justice are not considered vigilantes.

For those readers interested in reading more about issues of religion and state in Israel, please visit Religion and State in Israel

Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

Joel Katz

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