When I first arrived in Eretz Yisroel, my plan was to see the whole country. Everything. I have been to 30 countries and 40 US states and I wanted to see all of Holy Land. Travel generally whets my appetite for more, and I figured, all the more so would this occur in Eretz Yisroel. Finally, I'd tour my land, my country. I didn't have to feel like an visitor any more.
However, it didn't take long for me to lose my appetite. Physically, the cities aren't particularly attractive and the nature is pretty much obscured wherever you go. But that wasn't the main problem. The main problem was sin. It is just astounding how much sin goes on in Eretz Yisroel. When you travel the USA you see many churches. When you travel Europe, you see many churches. When you travel Asia, you see many Buddhist Temples. And India looks like one big religious colony. Certainly, not everyone is devoutly religious even by gentile standards in these gentile countries, but religion is respected for the most part.
By contrast, Eretz Yisroel today is blanketed in atheism. You can walk Tel Aviv for hours and see nary a trace of Judaism. The same applies to many cities: Herzliya, Beersheva, Lod, Haifa, Carmiel. Even large swaths of Jerusalem remind one of communist Russia. Religion has been blotted out and replaced with militarism. Even the people in street clothes carry themselves like soldiers, aggressive, abrasive, unsmiling. When I walk around Eretz Yisroel a posuk sounds out repeatedly in my mind, "There is no God in this place."
How can this be? Isn't it the holy land? Well, according to Religious Zionist Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, holiness is not inherent in a place. To say that it does smacks of fetishism he said. People imbue a place with holiness via their deeds. A place can lose its holiness.
Such seems to me to be the case with most of Eretz Yisroel. There is no holiness in Tel Aviv. It's gone.
Now, there is holiness in Meah She'arim. There is holiness in Ramat Beit of Beit Shemesh for there are God fearing people there.
But there aren't many Charedi cities in Israel. Frum Americans, getting frum visitors from Eretz Yisroel, get the wrong impression. Around 1/6 of the Jewish population is Charedi but they live in just a few places. Jerusalem, Elad, Bene Brak, Kiryat Sefer, Beitar Illit, Beit Shemesh. For the most part, the Charedim are packed inside ghettos. And even then, in all of these places, they are surrounded by Chilonim.
There is no oasis of frum life in Eretz Yisroel. I have seen even in the enclaves all kinds of non-religious people passing through, all kinds of pritzus. One Shabbos in Meah She'arim I saw a dozen Dati Leumi young women parading down the middle of the street and for some strange reason one of them was walking with her skirt hiked above her thighs! A resident told me that this is done intentionally to provoke a conflict. But none occurred. I have never seen any immodest woman being pestered by anyone about her dress despite all the propaganda you may hear to the contrary. There are so many lies told about Charedim in Eretz Yisroel.
Even in the small Charedi communities, the Chilonim are doing their best to infiltrate. Ramat Beit of Beit Shemesh is one of the better places, but this week the city started building some kind of camera tower to spy on the citizens. It is so creepy. To think all these modest women and girls are going to be filmed 24/7. Their sense of modesty will no doubt be diminished. Of course the Zionists sent a small army of police to keep watch over the construction workers as they fired up their electric drills. It was such a sad sight, all the Chassidim so helplessly surrounded by the Cossacks and their guns. This is what the Zionists have wrought, this is what all who support them have wrought. The thugs arrested a 14 year old Charedi boy. Tell me, when in Jewish history were good Jewish boys arrested by Jews? Never. Only in the so-called Jewish state.
The corner where the camera is being installed is now covered with an ugly green fence. One of the few decent spots in Eretz Yisroel has been ruined by the Zionists. I presume this is temporary until they unveil their little camera pedestal which will ruin it further. They never stop. They want it all.
The altar upon which the idol will sit
The reason for the camera is allegedly to insure that nobody tries to reinstall the modesty sign that used to sit in the area. It was a sign that said simply, please dress modestly as you pass through our neighborhood. But a Dati Leumi woman couldn't deal with it. She is a physician - part of the source of her arrogance no doubt - who likely owns a car and probably doesn't even see the sign if she drives through. She claims the sign promotes violence against women, but as I said I can testify that I have never seen any violence against women in any of these neighborhoods even though I have seen women in ridiculously immodest dress as well as women who did their best to provoke trouble.
The good doctor says she was once surrounded by 300 men at a protest. I can tell you what likely happened there. There was a protest probably over some bochur or bochurah sitting in prison for not wanting to be destroyed by the anti-religious army, and this woman marched into the middle of a pack of men and started yelling at them. A few might have yelled pack a little, but Charedim don't yell like Chilonim do. It's pretty feeble, baruch Hashem. Doesn't usually have that Israeli rage in it. That's the pack of menacing men. I don't know for sure the story but I imagine that this is the case for I have seen it before.
I have seen a fair number of protests. The men are so non-violent, especially in Ramat Beit. These men who have never participated even in sports don't know how to be physically aggressive. She was likely the aggressive one. Like many feminists, she wanted to act like a man and be treated like a lady.
Has violence ever happened? There have been a handful of incidents over the years. It's not normative for Charedim. There is an occasional unstable person out there who loses it. The woman who filed the complaint claims she was hit by a rock. It could be. But such would be a rare event. The claim is that the sign produces a general violence. This is utter nonsense.
I found the judge's comments alarming. He said, we will not tolerate there being a place where women cannot go without being harmed.
That's fine. I wouldn't want that tolerated either. Is there any such place? Normally, judges need to see assertions proven. If there is substantive violence, is there any connection to the signs? Normally, judges like to see assertions about connections proven. You hear judge talk about precedents and statutes. That's not how Israeli judges talk, not many of them, not this one. He sounds much more like a military commander telling Palestinians to clear out the area because the military is going to test some bombs today. Most things in Israel are done forcefully, dictatorially. It is such a strange place. The military culture dominates everything.
Beit Shemesh had a different court case a few years ago where residents tried to block construction of a cell phone tower on top of a building in a residential neighborhood. The judge determined that the connection between such towers and cancer was not provable. So there proof was required, but here not. And there is scientific evidence that cell phone towers can be hazardous. Even the American Cancer Society admits that living or working next to a tower can be dangerous. However, the judge ruled against the residents. More proof of a link was needed. But here, the judge is deciding against Charedim. Proof is not required.
So here we are with years of conflict and now cameras in Ramat Beit. The government had money for this even though it seems to have no money to build a hospital or to keep the post office open more than half the day. Yesterday, 5 guards kept watch for the whole day. What did that cost?
Could this woman have said, it's a Charedi neighborhood and they have these signs. How quaint.
In England, you'd get such a response. In America, you'd get such a response. (There's a modesty sign outside Monroe in NY State.)
But in Israel, land of atheism, land of anti-Charedism, land of chutzpah, land of intolerance, rage, violence, and control of others, not a chance.
But likely this camera isn't just for the tznius signs, it's for the planned destruction of Charedi life via the draft. At this kikar, many of the anti-draft protests are held. At this kikar, gatherings to prevent or slow down arrests of bochurim who resist the draft take place. The Zionist government photographs everything. It's part of their totalitarian state. At protests, police quietly photograph everyone they can. They do this to Palestinians too. The police that aren't bashing people to the floor, tossing children into the air, or beating Palestinians to a pulp are taking pictures. They are photographing the entire country and have records on everyone. When the arrests come in the wee hours of the morning, the police aren't so quiet. The gestapo was also fond of arrests in the wee hours.
People often say to me when I complain about the massive problems in Eretz Yisroel, the Gemara says, three things are acquired only through tzurus. And Eretz Yisroel is one of them.
I ask them if they think that the Gemara refers to Canaan under the Canaanites or to Beitar as the Romans were slaughtering people. And what is going on today in Eretz Yisroel is worse. With 4.5 million Sabbath violators, with the world's most liberal abortion laws, with over 1 million babies aborted since the founding of the state, with the army doing everything it can to suck in all the Charedim, with elections that are hinging on that very issue, with all the chutpah and shouting and violence and selfishness that characterizes this place, it's far worse than Canaan. That's why I don't travel anymore. I only want to go to holy places and there are less of those every day.
There is so much to admire about Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch: his genius in Torah, his being "a living musar sefer" as the Ger Rebbe said about him, his brilliant writing, his tireless efforts to rebuild Judaism in Germany, his vision with regard to women's education, his foresight into the evils of Zionism. Up there with all of that is how he kept his faith when surrounded by apostate Jews who wanted to destroy the Torah. I don't know how he did it. The man was a rock.
I'm not so strong. But tomorrow is another day. I'll try again.