Israel’s Coming “Civil War”: The Haredi Jews Confront the Militarized Secular Zionist State

Israel is heading towards a profound internal crisis: a Jew-on-Jew confrontation, which has major implications for its relations with the Palestinians, as well as its Arab neighbors.  The conflict is between the highly militarized Zionist state and the Haredi religious movement over a number of issues, including recent proposals by the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to end the religious exemption of Haradi youth from serving in Israel ’s colonial armed forces.

Haredim and the Zionist Colonial State

Even before the forcible imposition (‘founding’) of the state of Israel , the Haredim were opposed to Zionism.  Today the vast majority of Haredim in Israel remain staunchly opposed to the Zionist state for religious, ethical and political reasons.  Haredi religious teaching claims that the Jewish people are bound by three oaths: (1) not to settle in Israel by using force or violence, (2) not to make war with other nations and (3) not to act as if the other nations of the world would persecute Israel .

Haredim opposed Israel ’s violent ethnic cleaning of over 850,000 Palestinians in the course of establishing the Israeli State and continues to oppose Israeli settlers’ violently land grabs against Palestinians.  Unlike other so-called ‘ultra-Orthodox’ sects, who support Zionist colonialism and bless the Israeli military, the Haredim maintain that militarism corrupts the spirit and that Zionists have transformed Jews from righteous followers of the Torah into rabid ethnocentric supporters of a militarist state.  For the Haredim, ‘state worship’, especially the waving of the Israeli flag in the temple, is a sacrilege comparable to the renegade Jews condemned by Moses for worshipping the Golden Calf.

The majority of Haredim boycott elections, organize their own schools (Yeshivas), encourage students to deepen their religious studies, emphasize community and family values (of a profoundly patriarchal sort) with numerous children and strongly reject the Zionist state’s efforts to conscript Haredi youth into their colonial occupation army, the so-called Israeli Defense (sic) Force (IDF).  All major Zionist political parties and the ruling colonial regime unite to demonize the Haredim, claiming they are shirking their patriotic military responsibilities. Via the mass media and public pronouncements Zionist politicians and the state incite Israeli hatred against the Haredim:  A study in 2006 claimed that over a third of Israeli Jews identified the Haredim as the most unpopular group in Israel .

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