Oracle of Delphi

Jewish ‘modesty patrols’ sow fear in Israel

22 posts in this topic

JERUSALEM - In Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, where the rule of law sometimes takes a back seat to the rule of God, zealots are on a campaign to stamp out behavior they consider unchaste. They hurl stones at women for such "sins" as wearing a red blouse and attack stores selling devices that can access the Internet.

In recent weeks, self-styled "modesty patrols" have been accused of breaking into the apartment of a Jerusalem woman and beating her for allegedly consorting with men. They have torched a store that sells MP4 players, fearing devout Jews would use them to download pornography.

"These breaches of purity and modesty endanger our community," said 38-year-old Elchanan Blau, defending the bearded, black-robed zealots. "If it takes fire to get them to stop, then so be it."

Many ultra-Orthodox Jews are dismayed by the violence, but the enforcers often enjoy quiet approval from rabbis eager to protect their own reputations as guardians of the faith, community members say. And while some welcome anything that keeps secular culture out of their cloistered world, others feel terrorized, knowing that the mere perception of impropriety could ruin their lives.

"There are eyes and ears all over the place, very similar to what you hear about in countries like Iran," says Israeli-American novelist Naomi Ragen, an observant Jew who has chronicled the troubles that confront some women living in the ultra-Orthodox world.

The violence has already deepened the antagonism between the 600,000 haredim, or God-fearing, and the secular majority, which resents having religious rules dictated to them.

Religious vigilantes operate in a society that has granted their community influence well beyond its numbers — partly out of a commitment to revive the great centers of Jewish scholarship destroyed in the Holocaust, but also because the Orthodox are perennial king-makers in Israeli coalition politics.

Thus public transport is grounded for the Jewish Sabbath each Saturday, and the rabbis control all Jewish marriage and divorce in Israel.

In recent years, however, the haredim have eased up on their long campaign to impose their rules on secular areas, and nowadays many restaurants and suburban shopping centers are open on the Sabbath.

These days, most vigilante attacks take place in the zealots' own neighborhoods.

'They can burn in hell'

Israel police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the modesty police are not an organized phenomenon, just rogue enforcers carrying out isolated attacks. But Israel's Justice Ministry used the term "modesty patrols" in an indictment against a man accused of assaulting the Jerusalem woman.

The unidentified, 31-year-old woman had left the ultra-Orthodox fold after getting divorced, according to the indictment filed by the Jerusalem district attorney's office. The indictment said her assailant tried to get her to leave her apartment in a haredi neighborhood in Jerusalem by gagging, beating and threatening to kill her. He was paid $2,000 for the attack, it said.

A 17-year-old who moved to Israel from New York five years ago said she was hospitalized after being attacked with pepper spray by a crowd of men outraged that she was walking down a Jerusalem street with boys.

"They can burn in hell," said the girl, who would identify herself only as Rivka.

She lives in Beit Shemesh, a town outside Jerusalem where the vigilantism has been particularly violent. Zealots there have thrown rocks and spat at women, and set fire to trash bins to protest impiety. Walls of the neighborhood are plastered with signs exhorting women to dress modestly — spelled out as closed-necked, long-sleeved blouses and long skirts.

CONTINUED: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27023066/

Edited by Pontiac Custom-S
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Too much religion is a very dangerous thing and that's all I'm going to say.

it's Utopianism... you can't force people that don't agree with the "law" to conform to it. that's why only adult utopia's can almost succeed...and once something changes that balanced system, it will almost certainly be crushed by it's own limits.

edit:

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/dict.asp?Word=utopia

utopianism

1. the views and habits of mind of a visionary or idealist, sometimes beyond realization.

2. impracticable schemes of political and social reform.

Edited by loki
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Extreme rightists are on the rise worldwide. Racism and nationalism are at a 10 year high :(.

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"Right" and "left" have no meaning in this context. Such behavior can be an product of leftist groups as much as the right, especially when it seeks to change the secular status quo. In it's anti-materialist, anti–laissez-faire aspects it is even inherently leftist in nature. The left is about revolution, not civil rights and liberalism. Historically and by it's very nature it is as much or more opposed to civil freedoms as the right. You must not wear fur, you must not own a car, you must not do this, you must not do that. In most countries the former "right" has evolved into the party of liberalism in response (in Australia we even have a "Liberal" party, which is promoting itself as the party of personal freedom—choice in subsidized health insurer, choice in subsidized schools, choice in pension plan, choice in unionization etc.). In the US, where both major parties evolved from technically "leftist" revolutionary politics, both have championed civil rights, liberalism and state rights, and members of both parties still do. As the inherent differences come down to arcane matters of constitutional interpretation (even on matters of federalism the parties have switched sides), both parties continue to court voters and candidates on all sides of the political spectrum. Party politics has become the politics of populism, not of ideology, of choosing policies purely in order to win, about personal beliefs and ideas, not party ideology. Choosing a party has become like choosing a team to barrack for—you do it because it's the team your family supports, or because you like the players, or the manager, or they've been winning recently, or you think they'll win in future, or because on this side of town you follow the Cubs and the Democrats instead of the White Sox and the Republicans—for candidates as much as voters. In some regions sitting members as well as aspiring candidates have even been known to change teams (especially if they can get a better contract or chance of promotion).

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Sounds a lot like Kabul in the early 1990s when Al Qaida took control. The city used to be very westernized in the 60s and 70s, but then after the war the Soviets withdrew and the Islamic extremists under Al Qaida took control.

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Related, but slightly off topic, I saw Bill Maher's documentary 'Religilous' this weekend. He sort of tries to get to why people believe what they believe even when there is so much absurdity in the various religions. It was very funny, but he really didn't do a very good job with the people he interviewed. It could have been much better, but I recommend it if you aren't the type to be offended easily.

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He sort of tries to get to why people believe what they believe even when there is so much absurdity in the various religions.

Yeah. I have a religion but try to remain in the "moderate" frame of mind about it, and dislike the few zealots we have. When you scratch beneath the surface, all of the zealots are more 'effed up than the non-zealots in any particular sect.

Israel? Don't do Israel. My baseline for international travel is: Western Europe, or "the European part" of South America, that the country is predominately Christian or Catholic, that I speak their language, and that the crime rate/internal strife is reasonably low. It's a VACATION, not an adventure.

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My baseline for international travel is: Western Europe, or "the European part" of South America, that the country is predominately Christian or Catholic, that I speak their language, and that the crime rate/internal strife is reasonably low. It's a VACATION, not an adventure.

Out of curiosity... you're actually from Argentina?

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Out of curiosity... you're actually from Argentina?

No...native Californian but my parents are from Italy.

I've been to Argentina 2x. The people are a "kick" and the food is great. Their ethnic mix is 50% Spanish, 35% Italian, 10% other European and 5% all else. If a person speaks Spanish and Italian, it's an easy place to navigate, they treat you well and it makes for a great vacation. Ditto for Uruguay.

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No...native Californian but my parents are from Italy.

I've been to Argentina 2x. The people are a "kick" and the food is great. Their ethnic mix is 50% Spanish, 35% Italian, 10% other European and 5% all else. If a person speaks Spanish and Italian, it's an easy place to navigate, they treat you well and it makes for a great vacation. Ditto for Uruguay.

Gotcha. I ask because I have it on good authority that many Argentinians identify more as European than Latin American.

Also, I find Rioplatense Spanish quite strange. :P

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Gotcha. I ask because I have it on good authority that many Argentinians identify more as European than Latin American.

Absolutely. And they'll never let you forget their capital city is "the Paris of South America."

Seriously, though, the parallel I was drawing is that if you feel very comfortable in Western Europe, then you'll probably feel real comfortable in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. Everything about their capital cities feels European and they are fairly safe destinations.

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Italianos y latinos descendemos de las mismas raices romanas, compartimos la misma cultura y nuestra lengua es parecida.

BTW, Mi cunada es latina. Ella es chilena. :smilewide:

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Italianos y latinos descendemos de las mismas raices romanas, compartimos la misma cultura y nuestra lengua es parecida.

BTW, Mi cunada es latina. Ella es chilena. :smilewide:

Interesting, I understood every word except "cunada". I'm assuming it's the same as "cumada" in Sicilian?

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Italianos y latinos descendemos de las mismas raices romanas, compartimos la misma cultura y nuestra lengua es parecida.

BTW, Mi cunada es latina. Ella es chilena. :smilewide:

Pues, la lengua es parecida, pero la ascendencia puede ser diferente debido a la invasión de España por los moros entre 711 y 1492. Por eso muchos españoles tien tez más oscura que la del resto de Europa.

Oh, y "cuñada." :smilewide:

Edited by Lamar
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Wow... what stupidity.

The middle east is such a mess in every way.

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Wow... what stupidity.

The middle east is such a mess in every way.

Exactly...it's like a dysfunctional family whose baseline is chaos. They don't have to be that way, it's that they want to be. They've desesintized the rest of the world everytime someone gets blown up in a public place by one of these loons....in a "normal" setting, that would be a tragedy, but for them, it happens so often that we just say "oh, sh!t, another one...". I'm friends with some Palestinian Catholics, a rare breed, and the crap they tell me about all the bickering and power struggles in their family makes those in the other families I know of, including my own, seems like child's play.

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Italianos y latinos descendemos de las mismas raices romanas, compartimos la misma cultura y nuestra lengua es parecida.

BTW, Mi cunada es latina.

Yes, cunada = cognata (Ital.) or cugnata (Sicil.)

Agree with your observation. I had so many Cuban friends during my childhood in LA because they were so theatrical and it felt "normal." Not only that, they also will not let you forget they are European, with many of them having roots in the Canary Islands. Some of the WASPier families on the block seemed too "starched" to me, so I would go over to the more "ethnically charged" houses after school.

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Yes, cunada = cognata (Ital.) or cugnata (Sicil.)

Well, let me ask your opinion...

My friend and I have been in an argument for years over what it means. I say it's like a girlfriend/loved one, which is what my parents have always used it for. He insists it has a negative connotation like a mistress you're having an affair with.

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Well, let me ask your opinion...

My friend and I have been in an argument for years over what it means. I say it's like a girlfriend/loved one, which is what my parents have always used it for. He insists it has a negative connotation like a mistress you're having an affair with.

It's always been used to describe standard "family tree" language by my relatives, both in the North and in the South, neither positive nor negative, but neutral in its tone:

- (N) "Questa signora e' la cognata del vicino" (the correct form you teach, "il Sienese," right?) and

- (Sicil. with that more guttural delivery) "Assa signora e' a cugnata do vicino."

Now, if they said, "Questa signora e la cornuta del vicino" I'd be worried....OUCH...that, as you know, has the "cheating" connotation....

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