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And for that reason devastating.

Israel is one of the few countries whose fundamental character is imperiled… Modern Israel cannot survive [Haredi cultural regression]—there will be no one to fund it—unless the Haredim fundamentally change their behavior and worldview, of which there are no signs. It is more reasonable to foresee that, if anything, the process will be accelerated by secular flight…. [Even small changes will draw from the Haredim] charges of “anti-Semitism” and probably rioting in the streets.

Dan Perry lays it out in eighteen stark paragraphs: Israel is a democracy rapidly transitioning to a rather violent theocracy. One of its most powerful political parties simply rejects the authority of the state; suicidally and homicidally ignores covid laws; and bars women from running for office because public life of any form “isn’t their natural place.” If women must go outside, gender segregation and heavy physical covering is a must.

Established as a secular democracy, Israel is well on its way to making Saudi Arabia look enlightened. Yet because its current cultural grotesquerie has been a gradual process, people don’t really see it. They don’t see the secular brain drain, the out-of-it authoritarian rabbis, the masses of illiterate children. Maybe they take in the endless court judgments against appalling haredi behavior; but then they miss the fact that the haredim ignore all such judgments.

The Jew with literary history’s most fantastical, malignant imagination – Kafka – could never have imagined contemporary Israel. It exceeds even his mental grasp.

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