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Rioting in Jerusalem’s street these past weeks demonstrates that many Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) Jews, passionately anti-Zionist, are actually quite Zionist – they function with the kind of entitlement and power that reflect their place as Jews in a modern Jewish state.
Bradley Burston, a columnist for Israel’s daily Ha’aretz, says the violence of the protests was a sign that haredi youth are becoming more Israeli. “With the passing of generations,” Burston said, “Haredi youth are taking on more of the language and outlook of sabras.”
As disturbing as the rioting is, I can not help but wonder if it isn’t also a positive sign, however slow and manifestly ugly, of the increasing integration of the Haredi community into the fabric of Israeli society. Whether they are aware of it or not, their behavior spells the slow end of the ghetto mentality bred over 2,000 years of life in the Diaspora.
It’s that, or the cutting edge of a merger of medieval faith and modern political maneuvering that could morph into something as ugly as the Taliban, the mullahs in Iran, or the network of people who bomb clinics and shoot doctors who perform abortions here in America, should it ever get real power. Time will tell.