YNET – Traditional Judaism does not believe in equality between Jews and non-Jews, between men and women, or between scholars and the uneducated. The discrimination against Sephardim may not be according to the Bible, but it’s definitely prescribed by rabbis.
The friends of former Knesset Member Sharon Gal (Yisrael Beytenu), who is currently hanging out at the Big Brother house, sent a helicopter up to the sky with the sign “If a Zionist is a racist, I’m proud to be racist.” It would have been more accurate to write, “If being a racist is Zionist, I’m proud to be a Zionist,” as Gal’s Zionism is not the fulfillment or the creation of an exemplary Jewish society. Rather, it is mostly about hating Arabs and leftists.
And what’s wrong with that, you’re wondering. The Arabs are our enemies, and the leftists collaborate with our enemies. I could try to explain what is wrong with that, what is wrong, for example, with an idea of MK Miki Zohar (Likud) that Israel annex the territories and give the Arabs all democratic rights “apart from voting.” I could try to explain, but it seems that this is the classic case of the luxury restaurant: If you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it. If you need an explanation as to what is wrong with Zohar’s proposal or Gal’s world view, it’s unlikely that an explanation would do any good.
The goal of this op-ed is more modest—not to explain what is wrong with racism, but to point out the other places that the legitimization of racism is leading us to. Take, for example, the institutionalized racism in the ultra-Orthodox sector towards Sephardic girls seeking admission into Haredi-Ashkenazi educational institutions.
Ahead of the previous school year, the candidacy of dozens of girls from Elad, most of whom were of Sephardic descent, was rejected by the Darkei Hanna School and the Ladaat Chokhmah Seminary in the Haredi city, which is located beyond the Green Line. Why were they rejected? Because they are unsuitable. Why are they unsuitable? That’s an excellent question. It has nothing to do with the fact that they are specifically Sephardic. It has more to do with the fact that they are not Ashkenazi.
The students’ parents petitioned the court. Following the court and Education Ministry’s intervention, it was agreed that the Elad Municipality would move to a regional registration method, which would make it difficult to disqualify a student due to the descent of her parents or parents’ parents. Like the Israeli government, the Elad Municipality made a decision in principle, but failed to actually change the admission system. And the Sephardic candidates were—again—deemed unfit to be admitted into these prestigious (and completely Ashkenazi) educational institutions.
The parents petitioned the court again, requesting that the municipality be forced to implement the decision it made in the past. The court accepted the petition. Happy ending? Not exactly.
Elad Mayor Israel Porush didn’t like the decision. What do I mean by didn’t like it? He really didn’t like it. He declared that “the court ruling contradicts the explicit order of the greatest sages of Israel, may they live long and happily, and we will turn to them to hear what should be done.” Social MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) even announced that “this is a day of disgrace.” Have you ever heard such a thing? 100% Kosher Jews seek to practice racism, according to their forefathers’ finest racist tradition, and the secular state, which is suspected of leftism due to its being secular, is trying to stand in their way? Outrageous!
First of all, we must admit that the Haredi argument is essentially justified. Indeed, traditional Judaism does not believe in equality—not between Jews and non-Jews, men and women or scholars and the uneducated. The former in each of these three pairs deserve favored treatment. An Arab, even a good Arab, is not a real human being; a woman, even a good woman, is not really a man; and a secular person, even a good secular person, will never be equal to a religious scholar (who is better than the greatest secular scholar, even if he is a complete fool).
The discrimination against Sephardim may not be according to the law of the Bible, but it is definitely prescribed by the rabbis (the greatest sages of Israel, may they live long and happily). And in the new Israel, the secular court’s rulings are always conditional, until we find out what the Torah sages have to say.
And what does Minister Aryeh Machluf Deri (Shas) think about it? The minister was deeply offended when artist Yair Garbuz dared to talk about “amulet kissers.” Racism! And what about Elad? The Shas voters, Deri ruled, have more urgent problems than discrimination. If you are with us in the racism towards Arabs, we will forgive your racism towards Sephardim.
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