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Opinion
Daniel Gordis

American Jews Finding It Harder to Like Israel

Israeli society is increasingly divided between European sensibilities and Middle Eastern pugnaciousness.
What does the future hold?

What does the future hold?

Photographer: Gil Cohen Magen/AFP/Getty Images

There is a relatively new dimension to the ritual of taking off on an El Al flight: security, boarding, stowing bags, getting seated … and waiting. The wait is due to Haredi men, ultra-Orthodox Jews, who refuse to sit next to a woman during the flight. They demand to be reseated, not an easy task on a packed 747, all the more so because many passengers, outraged by what they perceive as medieval behavior, refuse to be complicit by moving. Because El Al security doesn't allow the plane to leave with the bags of those who deplane, even throwing the Haredim off the flight wouldn't save time. Finding their bags in the belly of the plane would take longer than the reseating.

Other Israelis increasingly resent this enormous bloc of black-clothed Jews who impose such trouble on them. They were delighted when the finance minister, Yair Lapid, led a campaign in the previous government to force Haredim to serve in the army and to curtail government subvention of Haredi schools. Now that the Haredim will once again be in the governing coalition and Lapid will not, the Haredim have already announced that they intend to undo any “damage” Lapid inflicted.