Today’s Giggle

“In Hasidic thought, lack of sufficient sexual mores is viewed as a literal barrier to the coming of the Messiah,” said Rabbi Ysoscher Katz, a former member of the Satmar Hasidic community, a particularly stringent ultra-Orthodox sect headquartered in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Today, Katz chairs the Talmud department of a progressive Orthodox rabbinical school in the Bronx. “One yeshiva boy having a physical reaction to a woman’s picture is viewed as a grievous communal setback.”

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Nietzsche Module, Yeshiva of Flatbush:

“God is dead. God remains dead. And Shmuley’s stiffy killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us?”

Thus Sha-Wang! Zarathustra

Nasty Habit.

A nun who took a vow of poverty before taking over as principal at a Catholic elementary school has admitted to siphoning off hundreds of thousands of dollars from the school to pay for “gambling expenses,” the Department of Justice said Tuesday.

Reactionary Theocrats Think Alike

Many commentators have noted that the Haredim could find an ally in the Islamist party in the coalition, which is equally conservative when it comes to issues such as gay rights.

Imperiled by the possibility that Israel may soon get a democratic government, the ultraorthodox are – should be – looking for friends. They will find no closer soulmates than the Islamists.

‘The crucial point is that it is not up to the state to define or interpret the meaning of religious symbols; what is decisive is that the individual considers it to be a manifestation of his or her religious belief.’

With France enacting, or attempting to enact, much tougher anti-veiling legislation, UD has been grappling with the question of how far a secular state (or province – Quebec has also been passing increasingly restrictive legislation) can legitimately go in the anti-clerical direction … in the direction of banning, in public spaces, symbols of religion. Human Rights Watch, from which I’ve drawn my headline, takes a firm anti-anti-religious position: absolutely whatever an individual asserts as religious clothes or jewels or weapons always goes; it’s none of the state’s business what people claim as religious self-expression. As Katha Pollitt once wrote: “[R]eligion is what people make of it.”

Yet how can this be true, really? On the most fundamental level, no state with any sense of self-preservation is going to cede legitimate religious self-designation to groups that in fact constitute state-reviling cults, like radical Salafists. For extremist Muslim women resident in France, the burqa virtually all of them wear communicates above all that “one does not belong to other groups, but only to Islam.” Their clothing conveys “complete loyalty to God, Islam, and fellow-Muslims and their utter rejection of everything else.”

(“These outfits are also available for children as young as two,” explains a writer visiting the Hijabi Store in Germany.)

I’m not seeing much in here touching even lightly on being a citizen of France, with even a rudimentary sense of affiliation with or responsibility toward France. (Does HRW absolve religious people of any responsibility to consider the meaning of state symbols?) It seems to ol’ UD that it is definitely up to the state to be aware of markers of perilously corrosive anti-state convictions among people who live in your country. (‘The national authorities say that the networks that once recruited jihadists have been weakened or have disappeared. The most visible signs of fundamentalism in [the once jihadi-rich city of] Trappes have also diminished, like the wearing of full-face coverings in public, which is illegal in France,’ a New York Times writer notes matter-of-factly.)

HRW does not seem to have glanced at human history; if it did, it would discover that plenty of religions – groups of people who called themselves religions – have been plenty dangerous to civilization, and civilization has every right to detect them and protect itself from them. Hell, religions have every right to protect against them. Think of the long history of the Vatican, or of Mormons, guarding against extremist offshoots.

UD also understands that free states should go as far as possible in the direction of neutrality in regard to belligerently non-assimilationist, and even extremist, groups within them. It is a sign of the strength of democracies that they can tolerate weird, utterly uncooperative sects like ultra-orthodox Jews and their fellow insurrectionists, the worshippers of Hitler. Spiritual extremity makes for strange bedfellows, and confident democracies can keep an eye on their zanies even as they trash the Capitol. But keeping an eye is the point I’m making – if a democratic state would like to do something other than roll from one street beheading and congressional beshitting to another, it would be wise to identify people who are likelier to behead and beshit than other people.

People who are pissed with Paris because it’s not a caliphate do indeed tend to dress in a certain rather rigorously invisible way on its streets. Not all of them; some burqa wearers don’t think this way at all. But some do, and the state and its citizens have a right to be unnerved by them. When you parade opposition to every foundational value of a secular state, you shouldn’t be surprised when people look at you funny. Doesn’t matter if you’re not a Salafist. I’ll quote Pollitt again: Religion is what people make of it. Goes both ways, see.

One of those foundational values, yes indeed, is neutrality in regard to religion; but what I’m trying to argue here is that not every cult should be accorded the status of a legitimate religion. So that is my first problem with HRW‘s argument.

[W]e uphold the right to express opinions which some deem contrary to the principles of human dignity, tolerance and respect, and which may deeply offend, because of the fundamental importance of freedom of religion and expression in democratic societies.

Of course no one’s talking about opinions here; we are talking about the symbolic action/expression of dressing in a certain very public, evocative way. And here again UD’s willing to be way offended by the enactment on the streets of her cities of female submission (remember: what people make of it. Yes? UD makes of entirely covered women an undignified statement of submission. On what basis does she make this judgment? Well, she listens to what women in burqas – and women who no longer wear them – say to interviewers; and she reads what Islamic texts and clerics tell women about submission.). She ain’t happy to be offended, but okay. Her daughter’s elementary school classroom, though? No. Her daughter is young, impressionable, just learning. She will take her daughter out of any school that normalizes the idea that an entirely blacked-out woman – with cloth over her mouth – is a role model.

This is the root of the legislation we are seeing. We shouldn’t be surprised. Most of us don’t like lies, or exposing our children to lies. Everyone outside of certain adherents knows that “The burqa is a vehicle of personal liberation” or “self-expression” is a terrible lie. Our children are going to have enough politically correct twistedness to negotiate as they grow up. Enough already.

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UD thanks David, a reader, for linking her to the NYT story about Trappes.

Rejects the authority of the state, and the concept of Zionism, altogether.

[T]he ramp on which 45 people died on Friday morning was built without permission, [a local politician] said.

“Anyone who looked at that slope could see it was something that was just thrown together,” he said. “The incline was too great, the metal floor was something you could easily slip on.”

“I tried to stop this,” he added. “I wrote letters. I got nothing.”

Part of the problem is the lack of a clear management system on the mountain. Four Haredi groups run different parts of the compound, but none has jurisdiction over the entire site. The group that oversees the area where the disaster occurred, Toldot Aharon, rejects the authority of the state, and the concept of Zionism, altogether.

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See my theory of the disaster in the post below. The state of Israel to Toldot Aharon: Go ahead and kill yourselves.

“[I]n what other annual mass festival does the state allow an audience of hundreds of thousands of people to gather in a place that is ill-prepared to safely house mere hundreds?”

Yes… Israelis should certainly be asking that question.

UD‘s inclined to believe that the answer has less to do with political expediency (the ultras are an enormous voting bloc; Israel has proportional representation) than with raw visceral stuff like fear and hatred. Quite a few ultras have always been violent; as their numbers hugely grow, their threat as a violent mass grows. Primal fear (compounded by fear of infection from large numbers of ultras who – as at the stampede site – routinely gather in massive spreader events) is felt in every part of the government.

Hatred is there too – not just because a corrupt, obstructionist minority controls a great deal of common daily life in Israel, and not just because routine ultra violence damages and destroys property and people, but because the very spiritual and political foundation of ultraorthodoxy deploys itself radically against the very foundation of Israel as a democratic state. Ultras hate the Zionist state and are notorious for doing gratuitously vile things – ignoring the moment of silence on Holocaust Remembrance day, for instance – to parade their contempt. They wouldn’t think of sullying themselves by fighting in the loathed state’s defense. They physically attacked female soldiers who arrived at the stampede to try to save lives.

You can’t exactly load this much shit up against the secular Israeli majority without generating real hatred. As in: You hate me; I hate you.

The stampede was a stew-in-their-own-juices event. The Israeli government is perfectly capable of controlling public events; in the case of the ultraorthodox — who insisted on doing something suicidally stupid, in response to which any responsible government would intervene — the government basically said fuck it because at this point they don’t care. Let the idiots do their thing. Fuck ’em.

And what of the ultras themselves? Isn’t the real question In what other annual mass festival does our group’s leadership allow an audience of hundreds of thousands – including many children – to gather in a place that is ill-prepared to safely house mere hundreds? And here the answer ain’t pretty either. Our leaders, writes the ultraorthodox author of the opinion piece I’ve been quoting, “prefer to leave us poor and ignorant.” She forgot hungry. And unvaccinated. And unemployable. You’d think that would be enough ill-treatment for people to start leaving the sect, and a few do, but not that many. And now the sect’s men at the top have treated the ultras’ little children (they were a third of the deaths) to death by suffocation, far from their mothers (no women allowed; strict gender separation, which the ultras try to enforce on the secular too, is another fun contribution they make to life in Israel), and toppled over in the dark at one AM and then lights out forever. Quite an end the rabbis rigged up for their most vulnerable.

All of this is one reason some observers call ultraorthodoxy a death cult. Why anyone beyond the mentally fragile and the mentally ill would agree to play along is probably an unanswerable question.

‘Sotorra Clua said Polman made that decision for humanitarian reasons, after she saw a Facebook post saying nursing skills were needed in the caliphate.’

Uh-huh.

Better my kid should suffocate to death in agony than a woman touch him.

Soldiers of the Israel Defense Force’s Home Front Command were physically and verbally attacked by ultra-Orthodox Jews while they were assisting in searching for dead and wounded in the deadly crush during Lag B’Omer celebrations at Mount Meron, the IDF said late Saturday.

“We entered the gravesite to search for injured people and suddenly a commotion began that there are female soldiers in uniforms who are touching the wounded,” a soldier told Army Radio earlier.

“They started to kick and spit on us. The female soldiers were kicked, spit on, and punched from every direction,” the radio station quoted the soldier saying. Hebrew media reports said five female soldiers were targeted.

“[Multiple reports indicate that there was] immense pressure by religious lawmakers ahead of the festivities to ensure that there would be no limits placed on the number of attendees.”

“Haredi politicians and their political allies” put immense pressure on civil authorities to do what everyone except the benighted haredim knew was madness: Pack hundreds of thousands of excited people, late at night, inside a space intended to hold a few thousand. Israel’s “worst-ever peacetime disaster” has laid bare the fact of Israel’s ongoing decline into a hapless third-world theocracy.

With this year’s event taking place in the shadow of COVID-19 — having been canceled last year because of the pandemic — consultations involving the Health Ministry, police and other officials concluded that no more than 9,000 people should be allowed to attend. [One hundred thousand attended.] Agreement to this effect was never brought to the government for approval, however, because of infighting among ministers on other matters… Meron mountainside has essentially become a kind of extra-territorial zone, over which the government has for years failed to fully impose its authority.

There’s definitely humongous huffing and puffing this morning about the scores of state officials under investigation blah blah but of course the people suicidally massing all over the place barely acknowledge – and certainly detest – the state, and certainly intend to ignore all of its reports, directives, laws… Whatever bizarre and distasteful secular emanations waft toward them, Israel’s whirling dervishes intend to keep whirling exactly the way they always have.

I mean, does it seem strange to you that in all the finger pointing no one is even considering pointing a finger at the people responsible – the rabbinical leadership of this haredi sect? That’s because it’s hopeless – Israel has allowed itself to generate huge populations of hostile irrational reactionary cultists; it has, in fact, allowed them to establish significant stretches of Israel as their own “extra-territorial zone.” Israel is becoming a failed state.

‘Some rescue workers attributed it to the sheer volume of people, who had gathered despite warnings from the authorities that it was too risky at a time of pandemic.’

Yet more proof that Israel has no control – chooses to take no control – over its wildly destructive ultraorthodox. Tonight they massed in celebration at a notorious “death trap,” and dozens of them died. Some among them must have known they were dangerously crowded; some must also have heard tell of a pandemic. Neither of these things stopped them; nor did state authorities stop them. Authorities merely warned them. “Authorities had authorised 10,000 people to attend the gathering at the tomb, but festival organisers estimated that 100,000 people were at the site.” Additional buses approached as the disaster occurred, bringing tens of thousands more. “The pilgrimage was held this year despite warnings from Israeli health officials that it could lead to coronavirus cases — a danger heightened by the fact that some parts of ultra-Orthodox communities have been hesitant to get vaccinated.”

[O]verall responsibility for the site has long been contested between religious authorities and state authorities, handicapping efforts to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place to cope with crowds at a site second only to the Western Wall in terms of its popularity. Israel’s state comptroller had specified in 2008 that Mount Meron “is not appropriately prepared for mass events,” Channel 12 news noted on Friday. A 2016 police report also warned of looming disaster.

The benighted throng hurled itself into its overstuffed ecstasies and asphyxiated. Children died. Absolutely these people brought children to massive chaotic late night bedlam; and hey – kids are small and they get crushed first.

“Rabbi Shimon [the object of the celebration] used to say that he could absolve the world … If he didn’t manage to cancel this edict on the very day of his exaltation, then we need to do real soul-searching.” Thus saideth one of the surviving ecstatics, and ain’t it a pity that the mindless rigidity of his cult means no soul-searching and certainly no practical changes in their staging of their ecstasies will occur; and certainly the cynical political leadership of Israel will do – as they did tonight – little more than evacuate the dead.

The model here is clearly the hajj. Theocracies tend to bleed their way through these spectacles.

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A rescue worker: “We have to wake up, it’s shocking how many people were allowed to enter.” And who allowed them?

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[In the sect of ultraorthodoxy present at the stampede], cohesion is as tight as super glue. In contrast, the outside world – especially anything affiliated with Zionism – is described as dark and evil. [Yeah, you read dat right.] [The sect members] do not view themselves as individuals... “No one would ever think of involving outsiders in internal issues of the community, let alone representatives of the Zionist entity, which is perceived as an apostate body inimical to the sect’s belief system.”

“With the return of Taliban, society will be transformed and ruined,” [a young Afghan woman] said. “Women will be sent into hiding, they’ll be forced to wear the burqa to go out of their homes.”

Afghanistan remains one of the worst countries in the world for women, after only Yemen and Syria, according to an index kept by Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security.

It’s definitely been better for women with American troops there, but it was still hideous, and it’s about to become heinous.

This is why Republicans have a Point When they Dump on the United Nations.

Its member states just put a theocratic nightmare – where women who don’t swaddle themselves end up in jail – on its women’s rights commission. Which four EU and Western democracies voted for a place with mandated hijab laws to oversee the rights of the world’s women? The list is here. UD‘s gonna go with the most woke and guess the following four:

Australia

Canada

UK

USA

Slaughtering a Woman for God Ticks all the Boxes:

She dared to become educated and leave the control of her husband and have a career. She fails to cover her face. She is easier to kill – most women lack the strength of men. And it’s a good idea to target either young or old – this one was almost fifty. Piece of cake.

And at a police station! Martyrdom guaranteed.

‘Quebec is hardly alone in imposing such a law. In 2004 France banned religious symbols such as Muslim head scarves at state schools. In May 2018, Denmark banned face veils in public, igniting criticism that the law discriminated against Muslim women.’

Quebec has for decades made it clear that, like France, it is seriously secular; and indeed the Superior Court in Montreal just upheld a law giving the “government … the right to restrict the religious symbols worn by public sector employees including teachers, police officers, lawyers and prison guards, while they [are] at work.”

“The law destroyed my career dreams,” said Noor Farhat, a lawyer who wears a head scarf and aspired to be a public prosecutor... [Farhat says she] “can’t believe what’s happening.”

Surprised she’s surprised. Since the 1960s, Quebec has been relentlessly restricting the official civic scope of religion — the Catholic religion, mainly, but other religions as well. No one following the history of Quebec can doubt its radical commitment to the separation of church and state. If your religious belief is such that you cannot take off a head scarf for the duration of your public sector workday, you should probably be in another province.

Naturally, you can try fighting this law; but you are going up against the will of the people: this law and others like it are extremely popular in Quebec. Why not respect the people of the region and let them live – in one public domain – in accordance with the secularity that is just as important to them as your piety is to you?

Beatrice Gets Schooled.

She left the benighted ultra-orthodox community … divorced her benighted ultra-orthodox husband… but her weird divorce agreement left the husband in charge of their son’s education!

The shonda-for-the-Jews ultraorthodox yeshiva system, wherein they gather millions of American tax dollars to refuse their students classes in math, English, and science, now gets to take Beatrice’s kid, chew him up, and spit him out as one more witless weenie.

Beatrice sees that now. She’s upset. New York State, which has an education mandate the ultra-orthodox ignore, doesn’t give a shit. She has nowhere to turn.

Her options? She can go back to divorce court and try her luck. More realistically, she needs to home school the unfortunate. If you want something done right, do it yourself.

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