Saturday, August 06, 2005

Holier than thou

Israel's withdrawal from Gaza is revealing something of a cultural divide among Jews. It seems those being relocated are profoundly more "religious" than their brothers and sisters bidding them to relocate. Imshin comments.

I am personally offended that religious people evacuated from the Gaza Strip are not prepared to live even for one day in the same neighborhood as secular people, not even when it’s temporary dwellings.

The religious former settlers have also voiced criticism about having to live among secular Israelis in Nitzanim and not having enough places to pray ....Housing Minister Director-General Shmuel Abuav said the new residents have demanded that the entire site be made religious."

Anti-disengagement rhetoric has it that we are all brothers. A Jew does not evacuate a Jew and all that. Apparently some people are more brothers than others.

They got their way of course. The less worthy ‘brothers’
got the boot (Hebrew link). The offensive secular evacuees, seventy families from Nissanit, are being asked to forgo the luxury trailer-villas they had been promised for alternative dwellings in the town of Ashkelon.Yonatan Bassi, head of the evacuation administration and a religious man himself, says he was surprised at the intensity of the opposition of religious families to the secular families.

Update: On the news last night they showed the people from Nissanit leaving their lovely big homes of twenty years and moving into their little temporary villas in Nitzan (They looked lovely, the villas, by the way. I know people who would kill for the opportunity to live in such places), some grumbling, some crying, some taking it amazingly, joking and laughing (of course, the journalists preferred to show those who weren’t taking it very well). My point is that many of these people are already in Nitzan. And they moved in quietly, ahead of the deadline. I don’t see how the religious people, or the administration, could possibly expect to get them out again.

I'm sorry to learn of this conflict. But at some level I see parallels with self-described religious people in America. From private and home-schools to political activism by (very well-paid) professional lobbyists there is a population of pious Americans whose impulse is not very different from those being relocated. It's a different group now than it was in the sixties, but the dynamics are pretty much the same.

As I learned long ago, when people just know that they are on the side of the angels, they will not only refuse to change their minds, they will also not change their behavior unless and until forced to do so.

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