One long, highly produced, article after another appears there, highlighting the destructive primitivism, and the law-breaking, of Israel’s large, politically powerful, and often violent, ultraorthodox population. Today’s piece recounts the sickening synergy of a government that refuses to deal with the covid-burdened haredim, and the determination of many ultraorthodox to flout any form of compliance with health rules.

I mean, literally sickening. A recent El Al flight full of secular and religious Israelis returning from New York featured a group of ultraorthodox – maskless and gathered in groups in the aisles, both against all safety/security rules – boasting among themselves about having forged documents declaring that they were not covid positive. Of course some were indeed infected, so everyone on that flight has had to enter isolation, etc., etc.

[D]ozens of passengers were notified by the Health Ministry that 11 of those on board were found to be infected with the coronavirus and that they must enter quarantine.

A woman on the plane claimed that she heard ultra-Orthodox passengers boasting that they had used fake coronavirus tests to get on the flight, Hebrew media reported. Other passengers said that during the flight ultra-Orthodox passengers did not wear masks at times and that the cabin crew did little to encourage them to cover up.

Tal, a passenger on the flight, told the Ynet website that as passengers were getting on the plane she noticed a group of young ultra-Orthodox men boasting that they had obtained faked tests “and saying that they hadn’t taken them at all.”

Tal said that she had approached staff about the matter and was told there was nothing they could do. She also said that although the cabin crew assured her they would require all passengers to wear masks during the flight, the ultra-Orthodox passengers moved around, stood in groups praying, and did not wear masks.

“I pleaded with the stewardesses to ask them to put masks on but I got the response ‘you are hysterical, you have nothing to fear,’” she said.

Another passenger, who declined to be identified, told Channel 12 News that the cabin crew did not intervene when he raised the issue of the masks.

“We approached the cabin staff, we asked that they make sure they wear masks, but they assured us that everything was okay and we are panicking for nothing,” said the passenger.

“They were playing with our lives,” he said. “The flight attendants were afraid to confront them and we paid a heavy price.”

You bet they were afraid. Angry, massed haredim are a nasty business on the ground; you really don’t want to rile them in the air.

Like most cults, ultraorthodox have cults within cults, breakaways that get up to even more violent stuff than the mainstream ultraorthodox.

In the 1980s, the “operations officer” of the extremist Jerusalem sect Eda Haredit, Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, led a gang that, among other violent acts, set fire to all Jerusalem bus stops that featured advertisements with images of women.

The descendants of such groups today torch buses, not just bus stops. They spit and shout “whore!” at primary school girls whose skirts fall an inch too short. Tinier and tinier sectarianism has made accommodation to covid measures weak at best:

[S]ome in the community now adhered to the [finally rabbi-mandated] regulations even more avidly than the secular population. But not every sect agreed. Followers of the radical “Jerusalem Faction” — who split from the main community years ago, arguing that [the larger group was] too soft in their attitude toward the secular state — and other extreme splinter groups refused to obey the new orders.

And maybe it’s because years of living with absurd cultists have made Israel itself absurd, but its not uncommon to hear even people in responsible positions say things like this:

“We are talking about a community with values, with a lot of love for mankind. But it does not think of itself as belonging to Israeli civil society.”

What a pretty cliche, love for mankind. But of course for this value-community Israeli civil society can curl up and die.

And, given their mindless defiance, these lovers of mankind are killing themselves too. They’ve already cut quite a swathe among their oldest, and they’re making impressive inroads among younger people.

Among the ultra-Orthodox, the percentage of those testing positive is more than double that of the rest of the population. The true impact of the pandemic is expressed in the death toll: One in every 100 ultra-Orthodox people over the age of 60 has died from the disease, three and a half times as many as in the general population.

Expect more NYT features, as the drama of state failure emanating from powerful, destructive cults plays on.

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