Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

27 Teves 5760 - January 5, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
Today's Jewish Future: Mass Assimilation

by Rabbi Yitzchok Roth

Anyone who wants to stimulate public discussion on a topic is faced with a dilemma. On the one hand, if he speaks politely it is doubtful that the media will bother reporting it to the public. Today when people constantly chase after favorable media coverage, anyone speaking in a matter of fact, well- bred manner is of no interest to the newspapers, television, or radio.

Almost the only way to attract attention is by using some trenchant off-key remark which, however, brings mixed blessings. It is liable to divert the argument from the main topic and focus the discussion instead around the comment itself. Usually an incidental comment made in the heat of an argument is utilized to deflect the discussion from the main topic to the correctness of this or that comment.

This is what happened when Rabbi Shmuel Halpert, a UTJ MK, referred to the non-Jewish immigrants from the former U.S.S.R. countries as being a "fifth column" and this is likewise what happened in the middle of November at Beit Shemesh when chareidim protested against the opening of stores selling pork for Russian immigrants. Instead of examining the problem at hand, the media concentrated on how the spokesmen in each case expressed themselves about Russian immigration to Israel.

The non-Jewish immigration to Israel utilizes the loopholes in Israel's Law of Return. In addition, certificates of Judaism are routinely forged and other ruses are used to gain entrance to the Holy Land and to receive the financial benefits included in the governmental absorption package. Even the leaders of the immigration parties are working to end immigration based on false documents.

There is almost no debate among the various political parties about the need to amend this state of affairs. The Law of Return has become a laughingstock and because of it dangerous "hitchhikers" who ruin the social fabric of the State of Israel have entered the country. In the first waves of Russian immigration in the 1990's authorities disagreed whether 30% or 40% were non-Jews. Recently, however, the figures are 50% to 60%, while reliable sources claim that even these numbers are optimistic and the true figures are closer to 80%.

For some reason, it is mainly chareidim who are worried about the plague of assimilation because of the expansion of non- Jewish immigration and they are interested in airing this issue publicly. All efforts to gain attention about this issue have been unfruitful. Certain elements of society are consciously interested in increasing non-Jewish immigration to Israel. Their aim is clear: uprooting any connection to Judaism from the State of Israel. They attacked some of the most flamboyant remarks in Beit Shemesh, and have fully utilized them to distract attention from the main issue.

On the other hand, without such a caustic remark it is doubtful whether anyone in the country would have known that the Knesset had even discussed the problem of non-Jews flooding the land.

It is well known that Maran the Brisker Rav ztvk'l, HaRav Yitzchok Zeev Soloveitchik, said when the Zionist Movement began that it is a mistake to believe that their objective was to found a State and while accomplishing this they also were uprooting Judaism. On the contrary, Zionism's true objective is to uproot Judaism, and establishing the State is only the best means they found of doing so.

Doubtless, when Maran said this several decades ago his remark seemed almost baseless, a sort of "fanatic" comment lacking any content. Although, it was difficult to overlook the harm being done to Judaism during the years of Zionist activity, at the time it seemed a sort of fallout and incidental effect that sometimes happens when a new ideology gains the heart of the populace. The National Religious camp certainly saw things this way and they gave the religious backing for this process. They disregarded all the sins of Zionism against Judaism and even went so far as to picture this process as being a part of the aschalta dege'ulah (beginning of the Redemption). Even the brutal shmad campaigns to make the immigrants irreligious, that were carried out forcefully and deceitfully by some of the founders of Israel did not destroy their faith.

Parenthetically, since we are talking about the sins of Zionism, let us point out a ludicrous bit of news lately printed on the first page of a major Israeli newspaper. This newspaper reported that special agents sent by the State of Israel carried out a "secret campaign" and saved several Jewish families from the cruel future waiting them. These unfortunate Jews would have remained captured in an enemy country. Anyone who read the bright-red sensational headlines and the highly emotional article was moved by the typical Israeli resourcefulness that once again succeeded in saving Jews from captivity and thus seemed to justify the existence of a Jewish state in which Jews from all parts of the world can find refuge.

If the readers of my article did not hear about the brilliant, secret Israeli campaign it seems they are missing something basic in their Zionist education. According to the earthshaking news, Satmar Chassidim in the U.S.A. gained control over dozens of families of Yemenite Jews who were taken out of their homeland and brought to the U.S.A. to prevent them from immigrating to Israel. The Satmar Chassidim, according to that article, are holding those Yemenite Jews in a state of almost captivity. They prevent them from immigrating to Israel, force them to study Yiddish, and imbue them with abominable anti-Zionist attitudes. In a top-secret campaign, agents of the State of Israel succeeded in rescuing some of these families from their dismal captivity and brought them to the land they so desired to reach. The pictures of the smiling children, with curled payos, who arrived in Israel after their amazing and heroic rescue, adorned the article.

Much more than chutzpah is needed to publish such an article. The State of Israel that set up shmad camps for the Yemenite olim, the country that imprisoned these immigrants in the infamous Ein Shemed Camp and did not allow them any contact with Torah-true Jewry some fifty years ago, the country that fought against chareidi activists who tried in all sorts of inventive ways to enter these camps to bring them the word of Hashem, the country that barred those olim who were imprisoned in the camps from enjoying normal Jewish life and acted in every possible manner to sever the youth from their parents (and in one incident its agents even killed a Yemenite oleh who took part in a protest against the organized Zionist shmad), is surely the last to have any right to talk against a chareidi Jewish organization that for many years has worked hard and maintained close contact with the remnants of Yemenite Jewry.

After much effort, Satmar succeeded in transferring many of these Jews to the U.S.A. where they live in a traditional Jewish lifestyle as their fathers lived for thousands of years. Indeed, it is true they are learning to speak Yiddish, but do the critics want them to continue speaking Arabic in the U.S.A.?

At present since the Zionist approach to uprooting Judaism has failed, the vision of several politicians holding key positions in the Israeli government is to confine Torah Judaism into a sort of "reservation" in which those interested in anthropology will occasionally take sight- seeing tours, similar to the tours being conducted on Shabbos nights in the Mea Shearim neighborhood. To accomplish this an emergency plan is being put into action to save the country from being taken over by mitzvah observers. Accordingly the more non-Jews brought to Israel -- either from the countries of the former U.S.S.R. or legal and illegal foreign workers -- will diminish the power of the religious. Consequently, the State of Israel must adapt itself to the demographic changes that will occur.

If someone seems to feel that the above is only theoretical, I believe the following quote from what Arye Kaspi, a reporter for Ha'aretz, a Left-leaning newspaper, wrote will be quite convincing: "If I could, I would change the Law of Return so that not only those who are half or eighth Jews can immigrate to Israel, I would happily bring to Israel full non-Jews. The non-Jewish immigrants are our Foreign Legion and our Southern Lebanon Army. They are allies of the secular Jews in the campaign for this country's secular image. In the same measure that the chareidim exert themselves to force their lifestyle on the secular, the non- Jewish men and women become important soldiers in this campaign. They cannot be brought to teshuva or be softened by memories of their grandparents. They want to eat pork with milk, take buses on Shabbos and have a secular education.

"As one whose pedigree extends to Mea Shearim, I can say that I feel that I have more in common with pork-eating Provoslavs, kein yirbu, than with my cousins with curled payos. As much as the chareidim try to control our lives, so will this connection [with non-Jews] strengthen."

The tens of thousands of non-Jews who arrive each year to Israel, part of them within the framework of the perverted "Law of Return" and part not, some carrying forged documents and false declarations, receive generous assistance from the State costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of shekalim each year. They are serving the Zionist aim that Arye Kaspi pointed out. But where is the country going to get the money for all this financial assistance? One does not have to exert oneself to arrive at the "correct" answer. On the same page of Arye Kaspi's column appears a proposal of the Ha'aretz editor. Of course you guessed correctly: slashing Torah culture.

Please notice how those who are always in the fore of fights against Judaism head the campaign for the illegal foreign workers who are overrunning the country. Their eyes are full of tears when they see the hardships of these workers who lack the elementary rights of humans. These humanitarians constantly demand that the State help the workers and their families who immigrated with them either legally or otherwise. These are the same public defenders of the law who are so particular about each detail of the law so that no one should dare undermine its authority. These are the people who should naturally demand the eviction of all foreign intruders who deceived the State and managed to enter it with forged documents and false declarations. Why does the State of Israel need to give a hechsher to such grave acts? Why does it need to finance the medical services or schools -- as these distinguished humanitarians demand -- for those who entered the State illegally?

One obvious answer presents itself. To these "benevolent" people, there is no difference between those from the former U.S.S.R. who utilize the loopholes in the Law of Return to deceive the government and the illegal foreign workers, of which hundreds of thousands have become semi-citizens in Israel.

They feel that the chareidim are endangering the secular hegemony in the State of Israel. They therefore support pork stores that are spreading throughout the country. They are the ones who assist the circumvention of the law to allow more and more non-Jews to immigrate to Israel so that in a year, two or ten, the plague of assimilation will also be in the State of Israel. This time too they enjoy the assistance of those who establish fictitious conversion academies that make a joke of the Jewish concept of conversion (according to the Ha'aretz newspaper, these special schools have issued some 11,000 conversion certificates during the past five years).

We hope that those who have true common ground with us and are aware of the true common denominator that binds Jews throughout the world and throughout the ages -- our Torah -- will finally wake up and promote Jewish unity on the basis of the basic values and principles that we all accept.

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