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Letter to the Editor: Slouching toward a theocracy

There is a name for a form of government that conforms to the dictates of religion, it is called a theocracy and Israel is in danger of becoming one.

Cases in point: It has been the longstanding practice of the Jerusalem municipal government to make road repairs on Saturdays when there is less traffic. The Haredi, Ultra-Orthodox Jews, have tried to stop these repairs as a desecration of the Sabbath.

In the same vein, the Haredi – less than 12 percent of Israelis – have introduced a mini-market bill in the Knesset that would force small food stores to close on Shabbat. That would leave the majority of Israelis subject to the rule of the Haredi who wield political influence beyond their numbers because of the convoluted coalition form of Israeli government.

This minority power, as well as the Israeli form of coalition government, leaves American Jews shaking their heads; but these are internal Israeli matters about which Americans have little to say. There is one issue, however, that directly affects all Jews in the Diaspora and that is access to the Western Wall. Here, Israelis are supposed to be guardians of this most sacred Jewish site protecting right of access to all Jews. The Haredi, however, have subverted that guardianship by refusing religious access to the Wall to women. On this point American Jews have the right to object to the restriction of access and the decline of Israel from a Jewish democracy to a theocracy.

Herbert Belkin, Swampscott

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