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Ultraorthodox Jews in Israel – epidemic as a measure of challenges. OSW Commentary 2020-06-23.

Matusiak, Marek (2020) Ultraorthodox Jews in Israel – epidemic as a measure of challenges. OSW Commentary 2020-06-23. UNSPECIFIED.

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    In Israel as in other countries, when the COVID-19 epidemic surfaced it exacerbated the existing divisions and tensions in society. A group that came under severe attack from the public was the Jewish Ultraorthodox population (the Haredi). This was due to disregard on the part of certain ultraorthodox groups of the restrictions imposed in response to the epidemic and an exceptionally high infection rate in that community – as much as 70% of cases recorded from February until May this year affected members of that community.[1] This non-conformity with the regulations by some Haredi (in fact a distinct minority) resonated broadly because it was an element of a decades-long heated dispute over the state’s approach towards the group and its place in Israeli society. Over the years, the issue has repeatedly caused severe shockwaves (including collapse of government coalitions). The stance adopted by the Haredi during the initial phase of the epidemic provided critics of the Haredi with new arguments that they are de facto a law unto themselves, and as a result are becoming increasingly socially and politically problematic. While COVID-19 cannot be expected to significantly change the subjects under debate, the arguments used in the debate, or the balance of power, it will make the dispute even more complex than before the epidemic and lead to greater polarisation. This will further complicate Israel’s efforts to meet challenges posed by the rapid increase in the community’s population. The members of the community wish to be separate from the rest of society, mistrust state structures, and make a negligible contribution to the national economy or for example to defence, being practically exempt from military service. At the same time, they are gaining more and more influence over public life due to powerful political representation.

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    Item Type: Other
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > social policy
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > public health policy (including global activities)
    Countries > Israel
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Series: Series > Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW) > OSW Commentary
    Depositing User: Daniel Pennell
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2021 09:49
    Number of Pages: 7
    Last Modified: 15 Feb 2021 09:49

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