Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Thursday, 17 June 2010 12:50 UK

School protests draw fire from Israeli papers

Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Tel Aviv
Some writers feel the Hassidim are being treated unfairly

Some Israeli commentators have had enough of giving in to "separatist interest groups" and even welcome the prospect of confrontation caused by the High Court ruling's against ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jewish parents.

Those of them who have refused to obey an order to return their daughters to the Beit Yaakov elementary school face two weeks in prison.

However, two writers are appalled by the turn of events; one because he feels the Hasidim are being treated unfairly, and the other because he fears that this will push the ultra-Orthodox further away from mainstream Israelis.


The discrimination in Immanuel contains in a nutshell the essence of the clash between the rule of law and separatist interest groups. Such groups include Hasidic sects and extreme, insular ultra-Orthodox communities that demand state funds to strengthen the independent education system that serves their children, but are unwilling to give in on even a single convention that governs their lifestyle.


In a state in which religion has become an axe to dig with, an instrument with the help of which the blood of a supreme court judge is let, it would have been better long ago to send the Admor from Slonim [the late rabbi Shmuel Weinberg] whose supporters are treating the laws of the state with contempt to prison… The time for confrontation has arrived. We should welcome it with a round of applause and a raised head. The time of justice has come.


The solution to this problem is in the hands of the government. There is a need for a responsible, courageous government that would demonstrate leadership and act quickly to shape a compromise… If the Slonim supporters in Immanuel want a private track - this is their full right. However, they should recognize they would lose state financial support.


If, despite everything, parents from Immanuel go to prison this will not be a victory for the rule of law and not a victory for the struggle against religious coercion… This will be another grim chapter in the procession of folly. And this time the ultra-Orthodox are in the right… The education tracks in Israel are full of 'exclusive' currents. Some, not all, are integration-bypassing tracks.


The High Court should have been the responsible adult instead of entering this complex issue with a rude, populist foot. With one extremist, irresponsible ruling the judges are making hundreds of thousands take to the streets, promoting hatred and only pushing the ultra-Orthodox Jews out further away from the state and its institutions. This is a sad day for all those who want to integrate the ultra-Orthodox in the job market and the army.

BBC Monitoringselects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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