Naama Margolese, traumatized by abusive ultra-Orthodox men, caught the attention of the Israeli nation.
If ever there was a country with “overstimulation,” it is Israel. With unstable countries that despise Israel surrounding her, a bomb-making country further off threatening to eradicate the tiny nation, and with plenty of problems inside Israel, it’s a surprise if the morning headlines don’t surprise.
So what is the headline this week? What are Israelis talking about? Iran? Islamists taking over Egypt? Homeless in Tel Aviv? Settlers?
Well here it is: At this moment it is all about an eight-year-old girl who has been traumatized by ultra-Orthodox men spitting at her and verbally abusing her with curses and screams until she is afraid to walk to school even with her mother.
Watch the original video which took the attention of the nation:
To Israel’s believers, that is not really surprising as the ultra-Orthodox have been spitting and screaming at Messianic Jews and their children for years and the government/police/courts have done exactly nothing.
But this is different. Little Naama Margolese comes from an Orthodox family who emigrated from the U.S. and who live in a town called Beit Shemesh about 20 minutes down the Judean Hills from Jerusalem.
Now you are going to find this hard to believe, but she has been terrorized (the word the media is using) by ultra-Orthodox men who think she and her family are not religious enough! They believe her clothes are not modest enough (they are down to her ankles and past her elbows, but sometimes she wears open-toe sandals).
Recently, the shy blond child told her story on the most-watched news show in the country. Overnight she became the most famous little girl in the country as the nation burst into rage over this latest outbreak of lawlessness by Israel’s Haredim.
ORTHODOX JEWS VS ULTRA-ORTHODOX JEWS
To differentiate between Orthodox Jews and ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel, we will use the Hebrew name for the latter Haredim (actually means Godfearers). Haredim wear some form of black suits with black hats and side-curls while Orthodox Jewish men wear round crocheted yarmulkes and are far more absorbed into Israeli society as a whole.
There has always been constant tension between the Haredim and Israel’s secular communities, but as the Haredi population is growing three times faster than the national average, their political influence is also increasing and so is their contempt for Israel’s laws.
Their feelings of self-righteousness and hatred of those different than themselves now extend to Israel’s Orthodox population. Their leaders have strategically mapped out plans to expand the Haredi population by planting their large families in secular or traditional neighborhoods around the country.
As their number increase, their strategy is to superimpose their strict lifestyle on adjoining neighborhoods by harassing and bullying the non-Haredi locals until the “less religious” finally move out and the Haredim take over.
HAREDIM DO NOT BELIEVE IN THE PRESENT STATE OF ISRAEL
The Haredi community has been at odds with the Orthodox community since the early Zionist Jews began migrating back to the land of their forefathers. The vast majority of Haredi Jews rejected Zionism (the belief that Jews should rebuild a modern Israeli nation) for a number of reasons. Chief among these was the claim that Jewish political independence could only be obtained through Divine intervention, with the coming of the Jewish Messiah. Any human attempt to force history and create the state was seen as open rebellion against Judaism.
On the other hand, the Zionist Orthodox Jews played an important role among the early Jewish pioneers physically building up the new nation. Therefore, the Haredim see Orthodox Zionist Jews as deviants from the true path because they did not wait for the Messiah.
However, many Haredim did eventually move to Israel as a consequence of World War II and they are extremely politically active, perceiving themselves as the true protector of the country’s Jewish nature (and making sure they get a hefty share of the public largess).
One Haredi told a journalist reporting on the rioting in Beit Shemesh, “You are sick; I am healthy. All of Israel will one day be Haredi, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
The journalist added despairingly, “He’s right. The numbers [of births] speak for themselves.”
Haredim usually live in tight self-segregated neighborhoods, closed off by barriers on the Sabbath and festivals to prevent the passage of vehicles. They put up signs everywhere demanding that women “dress modestly” meaning covering the entire body except for hands and face.
Even if a serious crime has been committed within the community, the Haredim will riot if police arrive. Not wanting to see Jew fighting Jew, the police are often fearful to involve themselves in a Haredi area.
In a very true sense, the Haredim have set up a state within a state in the neighborhoods they dominate. Whatever the rabbi says, his thousands will obey to the last letter, for to them he is God’s sovereign representative. The rabbi controls his followers’ most private affairs. If he directs his people to riot, riot they will.
When a news team came to Beit-Shemesh to video the area under religious attack, rioting Haredi thugs assaulted them. When municipal workers took down signs calling for segregation between men and women, they too were attacked and the Haredim later put the signs back up.
But somehow the cries of the little girl shocked the entire nation out of its lethargy, and citizens have begun to revolt against this attack on their democratic society.
The press quickly pointed out: “But guess who hasn’t said anything? That’s right: the rabbis. Apparently, they don’t care. And why should they? It’s not like they recognize the state or anything. And guess what else: They don’t have to,” said one journalist.
RABBINICAL LAW EXPANDS
The Haredi lifestyle continues to expand and intensify. Women have been physically or verbally attacked by members of the ultra-Orthodox community for not moving to the back of public buses. If women insist on sitting anywhere on the bus they then receive a barrage of curses and are called “slut,” “whore,” and much more.” As holy as the Haredim want to be, their law does not include guarding their tongues.
As usual, the police have done nothing and the custom of segregation has become an institution on certain bus lines in Jerusalem and now has spread to other regions.
The newest “Haredi law” is to designate one side of the street for women to walk, and men on the other side. In the darkest Muslim country, that “law” has not yet been considered.
“The ultra-Orthodox intimidate everyone, including their own women who are too afraid to speak out,” said Women’s International Zionist Organization chairwoman, Tova Ben-Dov. “They are hypocrites,” she says, “because they rely on their women to survive [only the women usually work while the men study rabbinical writings] but at the same time want to exclude them from public life.”
Haredi practice forbids TV, films, reading secular newspapers and using the internet for non-business purposes. Recently a Haredi paper digitally altered photographs of the newly installed Israeli cabinet to replace two female ministers with pictures of men! It is hard for an outsider to realize how isolated these people are and how badly they want to stay this way as long as the taxpayer supports them and their large families.
With great effort, the army has succeeded in persuading some 2,000 Haredim to serve in the military. But again there is constant turmoil and anarchy with these men. The Haredim believe it is sinful for a man to hear a woman sing and therefore they insist they will go to jail rather than listen to women sing in a concert for the troops. Asked who gave them their orders, they will tell you their rabbi. You can imagine the chaos to military discipline.
The Israeli Haredim probably spend more time in formal study than any other class of humans ever has in the history of the planet! But since they study only rabbinical writings, they do not study the modern Hebrew language, certainly don’t learn English, science, world history or math, so most couldn’t get a job if they wanted to (and they don’t).
The working-class Israelis are of course the ones who pay for their education. Sixty percent of Haredi men do not have regular jobs, therefore, 50% of their population lives below the poverty line compared with 15% of the rest of the population even though their community receives billions of shekels in government handouts.
The Haredim only represent about 8% of the nation’s Jewish population. However they are counting on their large families eight or nine children is the statistical norm (secular Jewish families have 2.97 children) to make possible their much-stated goal to one day take over the nation of Israel and establish rabbinical law as the law of the land. Haredim believe that they will accomplish this just as Muslims believe they will establish Sharia law in all Muslim lands, and finally the whole world, through the Muslim womb and the sword.
Even though at this moment the nation is stirred up, it is doubtful that much will change. The Haredim will continue to take over new neighborhoods and continue to riot and harass and curse.
Still there are some secular Jews who have grown alarmed enough to say they will no longer accept coercion by religious zealots. “We won’t let Beit Shemesh become the next Iran,” was the call by local journalist Tzion Sultan, whose comment received rousing applause at a rally to protect Israel’s democracy.
As I finished this article, a new headline has preoccupied all Israel. Yair Lapid, an extremely popular news anchor, and actually the one who broke the story about the little girl, Naama, just resigned his journalistic position, and announced he will form a new political party for the next elections.
Lapid respects religion but despises religious coercion. He also is very aware of the Messianic Jews of Israel. An important part of his platform will be to keep Israel a free democratic nation. In turn, the Haredim utterly despise him, calling him a monster. Yesterday he received a serious death threat on his Facebook page. Lapid was called “an anti-Semitic Israel hater” who deserved to die… “similar to what happened to (assassinated Israeli prime minister) Yitzhak Rabin.”
Clearly the ultra-Orthodox fanatical extremism couched in a desire to “keep God’s law” has not changed in the last two thousand years. But God revealed in His Word (Romans 11) that He will surely raise these spiritually dead (Ezekiel call them “Dry Bones”) back to life. It is because of that promise that we who live and work in Israel know our labor is not in vain.
CANARY IN THE COAL MINE
These recent events are of particular interest to all of Israel’s Messianic Jews. For years, the Haredim have publicly tormented Messianic Jewish families, including their children especially in the south of Israel. It is impossible to express the incredible amount of continuous persecution the Messianic believers have suffered with absolutely no recourse. Messianic Jewish children have grown up with serious persecution, violent abuse and threats almost daily.
Eddie Beckford and a friend who are known believers were accosted by the ultra-Orthodox on a street in Arad. Eddie saw Haredi men bearing down on them with one trying to snatch his camera. He stuck his camera in his pocket and the Haredi man tried to jerk it out of his pocket. Eddie pushed him away. The Haredi called the police who proceeded to arrest Eddie, put him in jail and then sentenced him to house arrest for nearly three years!
The Messianic congregation in Arad is under constant harassment. The Haredim stormed the Shabbat service of Howard and Randi Bass in Beersheva, vandalizing the building and screaming and shouting obscenities, totally interrupting the worship service in 2005. This had not been the first time, and finally, the gentle couple took the situation to court. They lost the case against the Haredim and the judge demanded the Bass’ pay $40,000 in reparations for having the audacity to sue the Haredim for vandalism and disrupting a public worship service.
To this day, night after night, gangs of Haredim stand outside the homes of believers in these cities and scream and curse at them and use exceedingly foul language against Yeshua. Sometimes neighbors will call the police, and the police will come and tell the neighbor that everything the Haredi are doing is legal, and basically they can do nothing about it.
Take a look at the parallel: Israel often attempts to tell the world that she is the proverbial canary in the coal mines. (A canary senses the gases in the mines that can kill humans before the human beings sense there is trouble.)
When terrorism first broke out against Israel, the world could have easily stopped it by simply destroying the early terrorist pioneers. It would have been militarily simple. But the world thought well, it’s just Israel. It’s their problem and probably their fault. (They’re occupiers of Arab land, you know.) And now terrorism has enveloped the world.
When violent religious persecution grew ever stronger against the Messianic Jewish community in Israel, this time the believers were the canary. Israelis said, “It’s their problem and probably their fault.” (They’re missionaries, you know.) Now many neighborhoods are feeling the religious persecution by fanatical Haredim who clearly aim to destroy the democratic state of Israel.
We who read the Scriptures know that no weapon formed against Israel, from within or without, will prosper in the end. And we must always remember that these are the very people that Yeshua spoke to in Matthew 23 when He said, “You will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord.’”
But it is clear that the evil one has sent his hordes to destroy this tiny democratic state from within and/or without. And there is no greater target in Israel than the Messianic Jews, who until now have stood alone in Israeli society. It is through God’s people praying and supporting the small Messianic Jewish community in Israel that we will succeed in bringing the Good News of ultimate salvation to this nation.
According to statistics, 70% of Israelis use the Internet. Half of the 7,800,000 population have a Facebook account. The Maoz Media Team is developing a Hebrew language outreach website with the knowledge that no other vehicle can reach as many Israelis as Internet.
You can be a part of this major on-going project to broadcast the Good News that Messiah has come and Messiah will return for all those who trust in Him.
The ultra Orthodox yearn to be righteous and holy. They long for the Messiah to come. They spend their entire lives struggling to please God and to do enough good deeds to inherit an entrance to heaven. The Apostle Shaul (Paul) had been raised in “the strictest sect” of Orthodoxy and he knew “they have a zeal for God.” A tremendous zeal. But without knowledge of God.
What do they not understand? They are trying so hard to seek to establish their own righteousness. And that is their fatal mistake. It can’t be done.
Whoever seeks to be righteous by himself is doomed to become self-righteous. To support his “belief system” that he is righteous (right) he must condemn everyone else who does not keep his traditions and man-made rules.
And since Haredim have not been filled with God’s Holy Spirit they must trust their flesh a flesh which is broken and full of corruption. Fleshly righteousness unfailingly produces pride, condemnation and hatred of those different than oneself.
Hatred is always found in false religions or false interpretations of the Bible. Check out the Taliban. Same spirit as the ultra-Orthodox. Subversion of women. A drive to control and conquer people by force if necessary. A world of laws and more laws. A world where traditions are more important than human beings. A world where religious leaders become gods.
I have no desire to demean the ultra-Orthodox, but for you to understand how great is their desire to please God, think on this: they are forbidden to tear off toilet paper on the Sabbath because that would be work. (They tear some extra pieces the day before.)
They cannot carry an umbrella in the hardest of rainstorms if it is the Sabbath, because carrying an umbrella would be work.
These interpretations are not in the Bible of course; they have been thought up by zealous rabbis who are attempting to bring their sheep into ever-stricter obedience, so that they might gain righteousness.
But their lifestyle is repulsive to secular Israelis whose only understanding of God is through the prism of the Haredim. No wonder 43% of Israelis see themselves as “secular” meaning they are atheists or agnostics.
WHAT ABOUT THE “FREE” WEST?
However, I wonder if Westerners have looked at their “free” civilization. We cannot ignore the fact that the Haredim and, may I say it, also many Muslims, are offended by women who dress in the mode of the 21st Century, running around in clothes that were not so long ago worn only by prostitutes.
I read once an article by an author who believed that Islam came into being as retribution on a bankrupt Dark Ages Christianity. In the 6th-7th Centuries A.D., Catholicism (the only type of Christianity at the time) was theologically sick and its theology led to atrocious corruptions. It was spiritually exhausted, enfeebled and almost lifeless. Rome had seriously departed from the teaching of the Bible and was engrossed in real heresy.
How does that apply to our world? It was only a short time ago that I suddenly had a revelation. I know what the world was like 50 years ago. But today’s generation of young people saved and unsaved do not know what existed then. They only know what is today and as far as they are concerned, it has always been this way.
True, fifty years ago there was plenty of sin in the world. Always has been. But not like today. There was no porn with a touch of the finger accessible in everyone’s home then. There was no Playboy Magazine 60 years ago. One had to go to a kiosk where the owner might dig out a magazine hidden at the bottom of a pile for his lusty customer. People had to go out of their way to get smut.
Can you imagine? Only movie stars and the world’s latest idols took their clothes off then. Homosexuality was considered a humiliating evil even by non-believers.
Today, we all know what is happening. Laws are being pushed to make it illegal to quote what the Bible says about homosexuality. Kindergarten teachers in California are being forced to teach positively about every perversion thinkable.
Back 50 years ago, the atheist in town was considered an odd duckling, pitied that he could be so ignorant. Today, an army of atheists are working to crush the Judeo-Christian culture in America that resulted in the greatest nation the world has ever known.
Europe haughtily sees itself as “post-Christian.” Its citizens do not know they are drowning in a sea of a hugelyexpanding Muslim population along with its theology, traditions and the inevitable accompanying coercion.
Absolute truth is being attacked and mocked in the Western World and the Internet has spread its gross wickedness around the globe. The liberal press and media blister believing politicians. Movies and TV vilify Christianity, and glorify the vilest of lifestyles. (They don’t mock Islam; they’re not that stupid.)
Today’s generation, even those who have committed their lives to God, see all this as normal, making it so very difficult to discern between the clean and unclean.
Back to the ultra-Orthodox: These “God fearers” simply do not want this corruption entering their neighborhoods, and so they are ready to fight and even go to jail for their beliefs. They want purity and truth and work endlessly to keep out the slightest intrusion of Western culture from their way of life. Their zeal and accompanying hatred knows no bounds.
Their human solution is to do all they can to hermetically seal their community to all outsiders. But alas, the flesh and the works of the flesh without the power of God’s Holy Spirit always win out.
There are a couple of porn shops opposite an Israeli Messianic congregation near a Haredi neighborhood. If you stand at the entrance of the congregation, you can see a steady traffic of Haredim enter the shop. Around the country, many Ultra-Orthodox can be seen walking into prostitutes’ dens six days a week. They don’t on the Sabbath, however, because it is forbidden to handle money on the Sabbath day.
Thank God we have come to the knowledge that “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”
And that same mercy He extends to the Haredim. May it happen soon, Lord!
Our co-workers without whom there would be no Maoz!