Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Life and Death In Ashkelon

Incredibly, while Israel is beset from all sides (both by putative friend as well as foe), the country is in an uproar over....bones.

Briefly, Barzilay Hospital in Ashkelon was a direct target of the rocket attacks during the Gaza Operation. It is also the hospital closest to the other areas directly affected by Hamas rockets. Unfortunately, its building isn't fortified. So, the government authorized the construction of a fortified emergency room and underground operating theatre. So far, so good.

Then they found ancient bones on the site. Immediately, the Hareidi organization 'Atra Qadisha' sprang into action and screamed that the graves can't be moved because the bones might be those of Jews. The Haredim in the government threatened to bring down the coalition over this, and the government gave in. It authorized NIS160 million to move the planned extension to a different location on the grounds. There are people dying from disease, because the Treasury has no money for their medicine. There is a critical lack of hospital beds in Israel, for which there is no money. There is, however, money to leave the remains of a few ancients in their place.

Who are these ancients? According to all responsible experts, there is no way that these are Jews. They are either Canaanites, Philistines or Hellenistic pagans. Jews never lived in Ashkelon, at least no where near the archaeological level at which these bones lie. Furthermore, even if they were Jews, there is absolutely no reason not to reinter them (with all due dignity), in order to save lives. On the contrary, the Talmud states explicitly that if a grave is a public menace, it can be removed (Sanhedrin 47b).

In this case, not moving the bones of our ancient enemies is: 1) a Hillul HaShem, and a farce under the guise of Torah 2) an act of actual bloodshed because it robs people of life giving medical care and delays the building of a desperately needed facility 3) an act of outright robbery of public funds(for those of us who pay taxes).

I just don't understand. Is there something in the water that makes intelligent, religious Jews do and say things that besmirch everything we believe in? (And here in the land of 'no one ever takes responsibility for anything,' the Haredim are accusing the whole world of Haredophobia.)

(I ended up speaking about this alot over the last few days on the radio and in the press. You can get more information from the links.)


Anonymous said...

The explanation is simple: ahveera d'yisrael macht krim (saying of a some chassideshe rebbe of pre war days).

Nachum said...

"Intelligent"? Says who? Some Jews are morons.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused - people from the students of Rabbi YB Soloveitchik crowd - including his son-in-law, repeat (ad nauseum) his dictum that in matters of security, defense and government policy, the government knows best. Here we have a government decision - just as we had in Gush Katif!!

Thus this government decision, which presumably was made after careful considerations of all aspects of public policy and budget, is no more a Hillul Hashem, no more of an act of bloodshed, and no more of a robbery of the public purse than the Gush Katif decision was.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the government should simply say...we'll spend the money but charge it to your budget line.

Perhaps when the haredi group's ox is being gored they'll 'discover' that the bones are, to be sure, P'lishti, or K'naani et al...

Kenneth said...

how sad, i always thought it was doraisa, choose life!
perhaps the rabbinate,fossilized,miscogynistic, and ghettoized as it is, has been infiltrated by wahabi clerics determined to undermine the zionist entity

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I have to repeat it again - the attacks on the Haredim with respect to this issue are demagoguery. The government made a decision. The government knows how to handle the budget, the defense needs of the country and the allocation of resources better than anyone else. I don't know what this or that modern orthodox and/or religious zionist Rabbi said about this issue (and I consider myself in those groups) but I do know that many of the same Rabbis who said EXACTLY what I have said when it comes to "political" issues involving Judea and Samaria, settlements, the disengagement, etc. and said that we have to follow the government even if the disengagement is evil and warped and will ead to bloodshed (Rabbis Amital, Sherlow, Sadan, Hager and others were in this camp) or at least "give it a chance" (Rabbi Lichtenstein pere is in that grouping - his son Rabbi Moshe thinks the disengagement was wonderful....) are now scraming bloody murder about how the charedim are endangering lives, they are necrophiliacs, the money can be better used elsewjere to the benefit of others, etc.
Rabbotai - the government decided!! next time try and come up with a different way to allocate your votes so that you can have influence and matginalize the Haredim.
what hypocrisy!

Shlomo said...

It's very simple. Whatever the government does, a few people from every background, including charedim, will find a reason to oppose it. But once one charedi person opposes the non-charedi government's position, it becomes a war of charedim against the enemies of the Torah and no self-respecting charedi can afford to be on the wrong side.