The Twilight Of The Israeli Left

Dec 20 2011 @ 8:56am

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Paul Pillar wrestles with the fact that, by 2059, the Ultra-Orthodox "are projected to constitute over thirty percent" of Israel's population:

The disproportionate growth of the Haredim, as the ultra-Orthodox are also called, has severe implications for Israeli society and the Israeli economy. About 60 percent of ultra-Orthodox men do not work for a living. They spend their time in religious study at yeshivas while they and their fast-growing families subsist on government stipends. This already constitutes a major burden on the remainder of Israelis and is a contributor to the economic discomfort that stimulated widespread demonstrations earlier this year. If the projected increase in the ultra-Orthodox proportion of the population involves a proportionate increase in those not contributing to the economy, it is hard to see how the even larger burden on everyone else could be sustained.

The ultra-Orthodox also are not subject to the same military service requirements as other Israeli Jews, constituting another area where the burden is all the greater on the others. Then there is the effect on social mores and freedoms. The growing influence of the ultra-Orthodox has already raised issues regarding the status and liberties of Israeli women. A further expansion of that influence will make Israel an ever more illiberal place.

Benny Morris takes a look at the left's decline in the present.

(Photo: An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man sits in a bus next to a woman in the center of Jerusalem on December 6, 2011. Israel's Supreme Court has ruled that public buses, which serve Israel's most conservative, ultra-Orthodox communities, cannot enforce separation between the sexes. By Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)