As I pointed out several times in the last few days there are in Israel haredim—those who tremble before the Lord—who are murder-inciting Zionists. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is one of them, although his followers seem not to go the way of his sermons. Thank God. Another ripple in his life is that he was and is an extraordinary scholar. My TNR colleague Leon Wieseltier tells me that Ovadia has recently published an incandescent volume on the meaning of mourning in Jewish life. You may recall that Leon is the author of Kaddish, a memorable text which, despite its deep learning, found its way onto to the best-seller lists.
I suspect that some of the rabbi’s equivalents among rabid Islamist clergy are also learned in their way. No doubt, as Paul Berman has shown in his The Flight of the Intellectualls, born in these pages, that scholarship was what gave them credibility in their war on non-believers, among whom Jews are the most evil.Sephardi haredim may star in worldly ignorance. But they do not kill.
Among the Ashkenazi haredim, however, there is a rich tradition of violence...mostly mustered against Zionism and its institutions. These deny the legitimacy of the Jewish state because it was not palpably sanctioned by God. One of the extreme of these extremists was actually a fig-leaf minister for Jewish affairs in Yassir Arafat’s cabinet. Refusing the authority of Israel drives some haredim to go to United Nations headquarters to purchase U.N. postal stamps for mailing abroad. They riot against open parking lots, restaurants, shopping centers during the sabbath and against Gay Pride Day and feminist demonstrations anytime, etc., really riot.
A weapon of these pious ones in blocking social progress in Israel is the “discovery” of grave stones here, there, everywhere. It is a tactic shared by the Palestinian Muslims and Bedouins who have no loyalty but to their own landed landlessness.
Allan Nadler, professor of philosophy at Drew University, has written a piece for Jewish Ideas Daily about battle of the fake against life in Israel.