Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

12 Shevat 5760 - January 19, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
Right Foot Forward

by P. Chovav

The struggle over the Golan Heights gained impetus in the wake of the massive demonstration held last week in Rabin Square in Tel-Aviv.

Even if there were 150,000 participants, as the police assessed, or half-a-million as the organizers say, the event succeeded in a most impressive manner to awaken public awareness to the opponents of withdrawal from the Golan.

The opposition to ceding the Golan Heights to the Syrians has become widespread and diverse, and encompasses all levels of society.

There are not many issues which merit so broad a consensus as the Golan one. Religious and secular elements, city-slickers alongside the residents of the development towns, settlers, kibbutz members, old-timers and new immigrants took part in the demonstration.

Motti Ashkenazi and Avi Kadish, the leaders of the protest movements which rocked the country after the Yom Kippur War were there. So was General (res.) Meir Dagan, who had come to express his opposition to evacuating the Golan, despite his staunch support of the political process.

Many others came to identify with the demonstrators, even though according to their testimony, they support Barak and the political left.

Throughout the days preceding the demonstration, a strange phenomenon could be seen at the main junctions of the country's highways. In both the north and the south, enterprising youngsters could be seen pasting and distributing propaganda urging participation in the demonstration.

They wore on their heads white visors or white baseball hats, meant for wear during the scorching summer days, as protection against the blistering rays of the sun.

The enigma remained unsolved, if not for the fact that some of kids were a bit "careless", and didn't realize that their knitted yarmulkes peeked out from under their headgear.

This begged a question: Since when have the members of the knitted kippah generation begun to wear hats? And if so, why not normal ones. Why wear those similar to the popular type worn by Yitzchak Rabin in the boiling heat at the festive ceremony in honor of the sigining of the Peace Accords with Jordan in Ein Evrona?

This question was answered at the big demonstration, where the same trend reoccurred, although on a smaller scale.

According to the the media, which some stubbornly insist on denying, many of the knitted-kippah wearers among the demonstrators had been asked to hide their traditional headgear, so as not to give the impression that the demonstrators were Yesha settlers.

The presence of too many knitted-kippah wearers, it was claimed, was liable to be interpreted as sign that the demonstration was purely a national religious one, while the organizers of the demonstration felt that it was important to show that the battle against withdrawal from the Golan, isn't exclusive to the settlers of Yesha and their supporters, but also encompasses all sectors of the Israeli population.

One of the reporters who reviewed the demonstration, quoted a religious demonstrator as saying: "They asked me to hide my kippah, so that too many datiim wouldn't be seen among the crowd."

Without any bearing on the position of the chareidi community regarding the Golan, or "the struggle for peace" as others prefer to call it, it is impossible not to see the hiding of the kippot as heartening.

It is no secret that many in the periphery of the chareidi community blindly identify, with the positions of the political right, and even the extreme rght.

The sophisticated propaganda, which leans on the distortion of basic Jewish values, encroaches the hearts of believing Jews, who have a soft spot for every slogan and bit of propaganda which incorporates love for Eretz Yisroel.

It is no secret that one can always find wearers of black yarmulkes participating in the right wing demonstrations. To our dismay, most of them, sadly, are youngsterrs who have dropped out of yeshiva, and who very sadly, are not aware of the implications of associating with youth from the knitted-yarmulke circles.

It is no secret that the ambience at such events isn't, to say the least, commensurate with the lifestyle demanded by the Shulacn Arouch, not to mention the lack of tznius at such rallies.

It is no secret that the Torah-observant community is not right wing or left wing. It is subordinate to the gedolei haTorah, according to whose dictates we live, and they still have not expressed their opinion on the issue.

At this point, the nature of the agreement which will be formulated, if at all, still is not known. It still is not known what kind of "peace" the Syrians will offer in exchange for withdrawal.

The position of the military experts on the security arrangements, which still have not been formulated, are still unknown.

In other words, we still don't even know what kind of question will be laid on the table of the gedolei Yisroel, in order for them to decide whether we should support the agreement, or whether it is preferable, or even a mitzvah to oppose it, or perhaps to adopt the policy of shev ve'al taaseh.

At such an early stage, what we do know for certain is that the chareidi community has nothing to look for at right wing demonstrations.

If the organizers of the demonstrations say without reservation that the presence of kippah wearers is liable to harm the image they wish to present, then we have only to thank them, and to say: you've started out on the right foot.

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