Is there really a ‘separate but equal’?

March 7, 2008

So much for optimism in the midst of tragedy. I just found this article on Ynet news:

Poll: 51% of Israelis want separate secular, religious neighborhoods

A majority of the Israeli public believes religious families ought to live in separate neighborhoods, and even cities, to their secular counterparts, according to a new weekly poll new poll conducted by Ynet and the Gesher Organization.

When asked where a national religious family should ideally reside, 51% of respondents indicated that separating the various religious factions would be best. 29% of respondents indicated that religious families ought to live in their own specially designated communities, where as 22% supported the establishment of segregated oreligious neighborhoods within “religiously diverse” cities.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be shocked… I would have thought that most ultra-religious would opt for religious-only communities, and sure enough, according to the survey, the majority do:

When breaking down this survey data according to religious affiliation, it appears that haredi respondents favored segregation most, with 61% of haredi respondents indicating that they preferred to live in separate communities and neighborhoods.

Not sure where the numbers fall for secular populations; personally, I’ve found that secular citizens fall under a scale of possibilities, from religious observance-tolerant, to religious observance-friendly, to religious observance-intolerant, to religious observance-spiteful.

I just don’t think ‘separate bu equal’ works, although I guess that depends what exactly you are trying to accomplish. Without any contact, the differences and view points are only going to deepend, widen and get more intense. What about those mandatory times when we must be unified? How is this one Israel, then? How does the nation stand any chance again enemies without any union?

And, perhaps, forget enemies for a moment: Where is the Jewish value of brotherhood? If the religious communities close themselves off, how do they expect other Jews to love the religion? Where is the good example? And how can secular Jews, with liberal values, expect to be followed in tolerance when they don’t show it?

But there’s always a middle ground, no matter how small. According to the survey, 33% respondents answered that they would favor joint communities with both secular and religious inhabitants.

That would be where I fit in. I’ve chosen to live in a mixed community, myself – majority secular, but religious-friendly – and I hope to raise my children here so that tolerance is ingrained in their mindset. That’s an extremely important value to me and look forward to a future where that only gets easier and easier. But if this survey has any grain of truth to it, well… It’s just more work for me and the rest of the 33%.

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Any partnership – however unlikely – needs communication.

March 7, 2008

Last night, Jerusalem experienced a shooting massacre by an East Jerusalem Arab resident at a religious Zionist yeshiva towards the center of the city. Eight boys, between the ages of 15-26, are dead and dozens are wounded. This was the first terror attack in Jerusalem since April 2006 and it completely caught us – at least, regular residents – off guard.

I’ve been a hawk about the news since it happened, and just learned something new, and somewhat positive, amidst all this terrible information. Apparently, the Israel Defense Forces and the Palestinian security forces hold meetings every few months in order to discuss strategies of keeping both sides safe and at bay to avoid conflicts or flare-ups:

After a week of violent demonstrations in the West Bank in response to IDF activities in the Gaza Strip, IDF commanders and PA security chiefs met Thursday to review the recent incidents and to reach mutual agreements on preventing further flare-ups.

Such meetings between IDF and Palestinian security counterparts are held once every two to three months, and this meeting was scheduled long before the recent flare-ups. But hours before the two sides met, IDF troops were hard at work overnight in the West Bank, intercepting a truck filled with a material that can be used in producing explosive devices. (jpost)

It’s nice to see that there is at least some mode of communication between the security forces on both sides; I guess there is a mutual need for that communication which is why it exists. If I can even call it this, it’s at least a minute bit of comfort after last night’s tragedies. Although, if I think about it for another second, and consider the celebrations in Gaza last night, I suppose the IDF and PA communication doesn’t add up to very much.

Yesterday was actually Jerusalem’s first day of spring, weather-wise. There’s something about the weather getting warmer and the terrorist attacks starting up. The words “third intifada” are creeping from people’s lips.

It’s going to be a long season this year.