The Conspiracy

The Cab Ride Through Hell

Drawing swastikas.

Committing arson.

Rioting en masse.

Just another day in the Palestinian Territories, na’chon?

Sadly, no.  In fact, we can’t blame these latest developments on terrorists, at least not in the traditional Arab sense of the word.  Nor can we pinpoint these heinous acts to Gaza or the West Bank or even East Jerusalem.  No, this unrest was in Israel proper, along the shores of the Mediterranean and in the streets of West Jerusalem.  That’s right, Israel’s Haredim certainly do know how to stir up the brown stuff.

Midway through what was quickly becoming the worst cab ride of my life, our driver – who made South African minibus operators look affable in comparison – decided to take the scenic route through Jerusalem.  That is to say, after my companion and I refused to pay 45NIS for at most a 30NIS fare, instead opting for the meter, this cabbie decided to take his touristy-looking, English-speaking passengers in the exact opposite direction from where they needed to be.  Indeed, it seemed, he’d be getting his 45NIS after all, and then some.

But then we hit a snag.  A flaming one.  And our by now heated argument – his side in Hebrew, mine in English (though revealingly, the madman did know how to say “GIVE ME THE MONEY!”) - subsided as the police vehicles raced past us.  As we drove past the burning dumpsters and the hundreds, if not thousands, of angry Haredi men and women, the car was filled with a tense silence.  Sure, I was furious at the driver – and he at me – but neither of our searing furies compared to those of the Haredim towards the Israeli government.

Following a decision to clear out an ancient gravesite to make room for a hospital’s emergency room in Ashkelon, large numbers of blackhatters began protesting.  Despite all reports to the contrary, they believe the graves are Jewish tombs, and as a result, are seriously pissed (excuse the technical terminology).

Now normally, this wouldn’t rile me up as much as it does – though, to be sure, a cab ride through fires and angry mobs will always be a bit disconcerting.  What really vexes me is how the Israeli ultraorthodox communities have hijacked the political process here.  Indeed, the main stumbling block towards peace with the Palestinians is continued Jewish settlement construction, largely for the ultra-religious.  And time and time again, flare-ups of violence are instigated by, or at the very least aimed at, yeshiva students or other Jewish fundamentalists in the settlements.

In my humble opinion, it’s time we called a kettle a kettle, and a spade a spade.  These religious wackos, these Jewish Tea Partiers, should no longer steer Israeli policy.  The state of Israel, if it wants to shine as a just, morally upstanding Jewish nation, must move forward, with or without its Haredi fringe.

(By the way, that cab ride?  Cost me 50 shecks and a lot of patience.)

Sam Melamed is a Masa participant, participating in Career Israel, one of Masa Israel‘s 160 programs.Masa Israel logo

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7 Older Responses to “The Cab Ride Through Hell”

  1. Robin Margolis
    May 21, 2010 at 4:07 pm #

    Dear Sam:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I believe that many American Jews have not yet grasped how serious the situation is. Your article will hopefully contribute to their knowledge.

    Cordially,
    Robin Margolis
    http://www.half-jewish.net
    http://www.inclusivistjudaism.wordpress.com

  2. Gary Hess
    May 22, 2010 at 5:34 pm #

    unfortunately, many Jews have been killed by palestinian terrorists, how many were killed by this “rioting”? how many houses were burnt down? what percentage of the Haredi population was actually involved?

    this article is pis-poor – just some old-fashioned anti-semitism.

    if you would have actually done any real research for this article, you would know that those protesting are not too pro-settlement. but who cares, if they’re religious, let’s just hate on all of them.

    You want to write an article about Haredim, do some research on Yad Sarah or all the other charitable organizations that they run, look at the vast amount of Jewish scholarship that’s going on, or I guess you could just look out of cab window and judge everyone by what you think you see. how bout you take a cab with an israeli flag through Ramallah and write an article on the reactions – at least that would be more accurate and exciting.

  3. Rich
    May 23, 2010 at 12:02 am #

    If only the Israeli government would find the Moral Fibre to deal with these people in the precise manner that they would have dealt with Palestinians doing the same.

    Oh, and 50 Sheckels for your 30 NIS cab ride off the meter? A Bargain. NEVER let them run the meter.

  4. Gary Hess
    May 23, 2010 at 12:53 pm #

    how many policemen were hurt? if these protests were at all similar to the violent ones of the palestinians (like at Bilin every week), then I’m sure you would see the same treatment, but they are not!

    “these people” – real nice! next time someone accuses the Haredim of fomenting disunity among the Jewish People, just try and remember all the lies and distortions in this article.

    Is there anything nice about Israel to be written in this publication? and if its such a miserable place, then why do you haters insists on going there/constantly bothering us! I think Thailand is having some rough times, why don’t y’all just go there and complain!

  5. Shira
    May 23, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

    This is supposed to be an open-minded website. Terms such as “religious wackos” do not have a place in legitimate journalism. Ranting belongs in a blog.

    It’s ok to complain about Israel. We cannot deny the problems there. At the same time, it must be handled maturely.

  6. David A.M. Wilensky
    May 23, 2010 at 3:15 pm #

    um… shira, this is a blog. notice blog.newvoices.org being the address?

  7. Mayer Jacobovits
    May 24, 2010 at 9:26 am #

    The author shows ignorance, prejudice and sorry to say stupidity! It is not only promulgating anti-Semitism hiddedn as anti-Haredim, but it is also anti-Israel. Next time you take a cab, anywhere in the world, negotiate the price ahead of time.

    I am disappointed that New Voices added it to the email sent around. Send this kid to a good Jewish school!

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