Saturday 30 May 2015

For whom the Belz toll

Theresa May’s plans to crack down on extremism, combined with the faith school dilemma, which has been intensified by the Trojan Horse revelations, have produced another example of the consequence mentioned in an earlier post.   
“Jews are the victims of collateral damage every time anyone has the temerity to criticise something “Muslim”.   ‘The Muslims’ are spoiling things for everybody else.”
It’s not that anyone in their right mind would approve of a religious ban on women driving, be it in Saudi Arabia or London. However the prominence the BBC gave to the story about the  Belz community seemed to be a case of the media attempting to imply that “The Jews are as bad as the Muslims”

The BBC weren’t any worse than the rest of the MSM over pushing this story and sensationalising it in a palpably Jew-bashing fashion. Oliver Kamm in the Times (£) wants to remove all faith schools. 
“ Nicky Morgan, the education secretary, has begun an investigation into an ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect whose rabbis have banned women from driving children to school. The edict from the Belz sect, in Stamford Hill, northwest London, said children would be barred from schools if their mothers drove them there, as women driving was “contrary to the rules of religious modesty”.Mrs Morgan, who is also minister for women and equalities, said: “This is completely unacceptable in modern Britain. If schools do not actively promote the principle of respect for other people they are breaching the independent school standards.”

Disapproving of women (immodestly) driving seems dreadfully backward and impractical, and if it means children are ostracised or excluded from school it’s immoral and probably illegal.  
But I’m inclined to think that the comparatively small numbers of Belz involved ought to be allowed, within reason, to do whatever floats their boat. Within the law of course. (The British law rather than the Belz sect law, if there is one.) 

It’s hard to find the actual numbers that make up this group, and the media’s habit of lumping together the Haredi  and the ultra Orthodox is confusing. There are several Hassidic groups, and as far as I know, the majority of Jews of all stripes do not approve of bans on women driving. They probably think bans on women driving are as ridiculous as we all do.  

So here’s another story that makes Jews look ‘other’ seemingly to equate them with the Muslims.  Always keen to assert that IS has nothing to do with (the real) Islam, you might think that the BBC would be equally keen to point out, at the very least, that the Belz are not representative of (mainstream) Judaism.


  1. You won't be surprised to hear that there were tweets and re-tweets about this from Jon Donnison, Hugh Sykes and Louise Greenwood.

    Hugh Sykes's re-tweet in particular made the "they're all the same, these nutters from different religions" point.

    1. On one level, they are the same sort of nutter, sure. Yes, both cultures are patriarchal. Ultra-orthodox women are made to keep their hair very short and hidden under a wig (limited to two models, from what I've seen), removed only in the presence of female relatives or her husband. Even the more mainstream modern orthodox women wear long sleeves and skirts down to their toes - even on the hottest days of summer - in the interests of "modesty". There is also a tradition known as negiya, which dictates that women should never touch a male who is not a close relative until marriage. Frum Women are not allowed to associate in public with men any more than conservative Muslim women are.

      Having said that, the similarities end there. No need to get into the more extreme behaviors that Jews wouldn't dream of doing, we all know what they are. Blanket statements about them all being the same is the kind of sick moral equivalency we've come to expect from BBC journalists. What they're trying to do here is both dishonest and anti-Semitic.

    2. "Re-tweets about this from Jon Donnison, Hugh Sykes and Louise Greenwood"

      In a non-endorsement, views their own way, one is sure?

  2. I am afraid that religious exceptionalism whether it be denominational schools, Sikhs excused motorbike helmets or Jews allowed to open shops on a Sunday, back in the day, or - more recently - introducing religious courts (Beth Din) into our legal system, have indeed all created opportunities for those seeking to extend Sharia rule. That is simply a fact.

    1. Please explain how the Beth Din has been introduced into our legal system.
      I don't believe that is the case.

      The conclusion is :
      The term ‗Jewish courts‘ is misleading: the Beth Din is not a legal court. Instead, it offers members of the Jewish communities two separate services – civil arbitration and religious rulings – neither of which constitute a parallel legal system.

  3. That's nonsense.

    See the Divorce (Religious Marriages) Act 2002 - up there in the top ten of worst pieces of legislation in this country:


    .(1)This section applies if a decree of divorce has been granted but not made absolute and the parties to the marriage concerned— .
    (a)were married in accordance with— .
    (i)the usages of the Jews, or .
    (ii)any other prescribed religious usages; and .
    (b)must co-operate if the marriage is to be dissolved in accordance with those usages. .
    (2)On the application of either party, the court may order that a decree of divorce is not to be made absolute until a declaration made by both parties that they have taken such steps as are required to dissolve the marriage in accordance with those usages is produced to the court.

    Beth Din courts, just like Sharia Courts, hold that there is a Law that people in their community have to follow, whether or not they wish to follow it. Calling it "religious" law, doesn't make it any less a law. IS call their laws religious laws. They are all rules of behaviour that certain groups seek to impose. The only issue is who gets to make the rulings.

    UK law specifically recognises Beth Din courts as it does (implicitly - because other religious courts are also recognised in general).

    The idea of people "voluntarily" submitting to certain jurisdictions is laughable when people have been brought up in a religion and subjected to 10,000 hours of instruction in the set of rules by the time they are adults.

    1. There may be some truth in that argument, but it really seems to be against religion per se, which is another story altogether.


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