Friday, March 28, 2014

My Proposal for a Framework to Bridge the Chareidi/Non-Chareidi Gap in E"Y


I wrote an article which was recently posted on the Cross-Currents blog. Like many people, I'm frustrated with the vilification I'm hearing about points of view and decisions they disagree with. People talk past each other and impune the other's motives.
I had a 60 hour clinical training during law school with Professor Baruch Bush on how the theory and practice of transformative mediation (videos of Prof. Bush explaining transformative mediation above). It seems like it would be a very effective way to get the various sides to hear each other and, who knows, perhaps reach a long-term, consensual, and peaceful resolution and avoid further "culture war." The trick is getting the parties in the door.
I definitely recommend people read my article, the first few paragraphs of which I've copied below. Click here to read the full article.
Both sides on the chareidi draft issue in Eretz Yisroel see the other as an existential threat. The current coalition government apparently thought that they did not need to compromise on the imprisonment issue when they unilaterally negotiated and recently passed their draft bill. On the other hand, the various chareidi communities do not think they need to compromise in their total opposition to the law in any form and believe their show of solidarity on the issue at the Atzeres Tefillah gathering in Yerushalayim backs up that position. All they need to do it wait until the next election and give a majority to any coalition government which agrees to repeal the law.
When both sides look at the other, they feel simultaneously vulnerable and powerful. In reality, this is the perfect opening for leaders on both sides to participate in an open-ended dialogue that, based on past history, has a strong potential to not only enable them to reach a peaceable resolution to the conflict, but to bring them closer together. That framework for conversation is called “transformative mediation.”
The Transformative Model
The chareidi and non-chareidi communities in Eretz Yisroel need some framework within which to transform the downward spiral in their relationship. The current conflict is like a civil litigation. Both sides start with the intention of defeating the other, but in court, most cases are ultimately resolved consensually before trial. In this inter-communal Jewish dispute, however, it is not enough to settle individual issues with particular compromises while both sides continue to inwardly despise one another. We must transform the nature of the relationship between the two sides and reshape the form of the dialogue.
In the legal world, there are a variety of ways consensual resolutions are reached. Settlements arise from direct negotiation before or during litigation and sometimes through mediation. Most forms of mediation are mediator-driven. In other words, the mediator guides the parties through the issues to be resolved and sets the tone for what he believes a resolution should look like. In standard mediation, the mediator is an experienced professional with a good understanding of the strength of each side’s legal arguments and who is most likely to win on what issue in a full-blown litigation. He uses his knowledge and influence to guide the parties to what he believes is a workable solution. While this is often effective if the only goal is achieving a settlement, it often leaves parties with just as much animosity toward one another and feeling steamrolled into a settlement with the mediator taking the other party’s side on some issue.
But this method will not work here because the stakes are too critical. Neither side can risk participating in a process which could potentially force it to cede precious ground. This crisis demands a deeper response. The issues and values at stake are so personal and so nuanced for both sides that any outside intervention or coercion would not address the underlying issue; the relationship between the chareidi and non-chareidi communities in Eretz Yisroel.
More Than Compromise – Transforming the Dialogue
The good news is that transformative mediation is a participant-driven form of mediation which does not limit its goals to ironing out a compromise to a particular circumscribed conflict. Rather, it is structured to transform the form of the dialogue and the parties’ relationship... Click here to read more.
Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to "follow" me on Twitter.


micha berger said...

I think your attempt to portray the divide in such symmetric terms is unrealistic.

One side feels that there is a need for more unity with the other. They feel that the split has caused inequity against them, and is driven by a cause they don't believe in. (And whether chiloni or dati le'umi, they don't believe in chareidi separatedness.)

The other side wants to remain separate to the extent that they see an appeal to unity as an attempt to assimilate them (the term "shmad" is regularly used). They therefore use language that goes beyond rebuffing the attempts to integrate them as a tile in the larger Israeli Jewish mosaic and well into being downright insulting and demonizing.

Yes, Israel absorbed too much of the Levant's black and white, us-vs-them culture. And yes Israel has a disproportionate number of people who chose ideals over standard of living (or their children and grandchilden), and therefore has a lot more vehemence and camp loyalty than we in the US are used to. When every camp thinks they have the One Truth, it's hard to just sit back and watch other Jews do the wrong thing. Much of American tolerance is really apathy. Even if tolerance itself may be a good thing in proper measure.

But here we have one side trying to integrate the other, having no one to talk to, and therefore ending up forcing their will by legal fiat. Meanwhile the other side wants to ghettoize to preserve their Torah-only lifestyle even though it means separating from a society of Jews.

In terms of your topic, though, there is no symmetry. The problem has been exclusively chareidi.

E.g. Yair Lapid went to Qiryat Ono. His words were distorted by Chareidi media 180deg and made into an echo of Ben Gurion. Lapid said it was time for Chareidim to participate in Israeli life, now that they are the flag-bearers of Torah even in most chiloni minds. They heard him saying he was waiting for them to finally die off through attrition.

As I said, while there are elements of symmetry, blame for the lack of dialog isn't one of them. Look at the people gathering by the thousands and asking G-d to smite the enemy as a way to stop other Jews. Or are they "the offspring of Amaleiq"?

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Reb Micha,

My goal in this piece is to set up a framework for conversation (who says that will necessarily lead to integration?).

Accordingly, it must be written in a way that does not alienate either side. V'havein.

micha berger said...

But I don't think that'll work, and my reaction is why.

The camp that really is just trying to get to (1) a pragmatically workable society while accepting Chareidi population growth, and (2) a common Israeli Jewish peoplehood will take offense by being portrayed as not trying to communicate and bridge the gap.

I'm not directly in that community. I'm an American with beliefs that put me in both or neither camp. But I did grow up with a Mod-O identity. And it was enough to set me off. I can only picture what people actually in that half of your target audience would think. But my guess is: put off.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

One needs to write differently depending on one's target audience. If you'll notice where I submitted the article, it was a more "chareidi" leaning venue. That's because the article's target audience is not the various non-chareidi communities. I don't think it would take too much effort to get them to participate in dialgue. That's one reason they are not the article target audience. Another is that I identify more closely with the chareidi communities in many ways and and writing to this community in an effort to open it up more to dialogue and a realization that they can have a pre-condition-less conversation with the other side and good things will come out of that.

While the internet is a big marketplace and obviously anyone from any side can read the article, I don't think that means writers have to consider everyone with access to the internet as their target audience and write accordingly. The venue was intentional.

Mr. Cohen said...

Rabbi Avigdor Miller OBM (a popular Chareidi Rabbi and author, born 1908 CE, died 2001 CE) delivered a free public lecture in the last year of his life, in which he taught that Jews should pray for the Israeli Army.

I personally witnessed this; I was there.

When a Jew recites Tefilat Shemoneh Esrei, he is permitted to add his own personal prayer requests in the middle of the final paragraph, which begins with Elokai Netzor Leshoni MeiRa.

Rabbi Steven Pruzansky of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck NJ told me that I can recite it even on Shabbat and Yom Tov, because it is a communal tefillah, not a private bakashah.


Anonymous said...

Trying to figure out a practical way to get all yidden to agree on anything, especially a national issue, is whimisical to the point of bittul zman. Let's all just be nice to each other. Be a mentsh, be courteous, say thank you, hold open a door, and mean it.... not just once, but constantly. This is as much an avodah as learning anything in nigleh or nistar. And it goes without saying to daven fro all yidden, especially if they "irk" you, to put it politely. That should be our only avodah vis-a-vis yidden we disagree with. You are not going to "solve" this. Trying seems innocuously quaint, bordering on hopelessly naive. We can disagree all we want, but why do we all have to be barricaded in a gas chamber together to realize we're all b'nei avraham, b'nei Hashem??? Getting to that yediah? THAT is an attainable goal. And Rav Techtal in Eim Habanim Smeichah quotes the Belzer of the things the admor says, if I recall correctly, is that ahavas yisroel is basically our main job before moshiach (Correct me if I'm wrong binyomin!). Not tshuva (iy"h that should happen too!) for the whole klal just ahavas yisroel. THAT we can certainly do, and bring about. Where's the plan for that????

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Azus d'kedusha!

Anonymous said...

I like what another commenter said on the other site you linked to: the idea of mishloach manos in eretz yisroel. what a wasted opportunity to spread ahavas yisroel. We're all brothers MAMASH, even more than that, we're all Knesses yisroel, we are ONE. Rebbe has said before: how can moshiach come if two brothers can't even sit next to each other - v'hamayven yaven - it works on the macro level too. Basically, I think "getting them to the table" IS THE GOAL. The notion that we can then moderate out a solution is beyond the pale with the current cast.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Yes, I brought up the shaloch manos point from Rabbi Grylak in the orginal article. And agree and getting to the table as the goal. Closing the distance betwee Jews is the main goal, regardless of a practical settlement as I said in the article. That's why I propose this "transformative mediation" model, instead of a settlement-based model.

Anonymous said...

you're not going to believe this, the shiur I'm listening to right now parrots exactly what I brought up before from the Belzer rebbe. Coincidence? I'm not sure what date this shiur is from, but (I hate to even use this term "skip" with rebbe!) skip to 28:45: to bring moshiach? the ikar is ahava, chaveirim, etc.

micha berger said...

... which is what I thought you brought to the table beyond "Let's all just be nice to each other." Even if we can't implement it -- and in all probability none of us are in a position to mediate dialog or get significant players to the table -- there is value in the search for what "good" means.

I "disagree" with something else 10:31am Anonymous wrote. He/she says, "Be a mentsh, be courteous, say thank you, hold open a door, and mean it.... not just once, but constantly. This is as much an avodah as learning anything in nigleh or nistar." It is MORE of an Avodah. Until we are mentchen, we aren't ready for (the rest of) nigleh or for nistar.

The problem with platitudes is that people forget they're true. Doubly so in the frum world, where we get used to thinking of the details of halakhah as being the most real and binding. "Derekh eretz qodmah laTorah", as Chazal say (Vayiqra Rabba 9:3, c.f. Tana Devei Eliyahu Rabba 1:1 (!) which makes the same point in more words). The Creator made 26 generations of human beings, 2448-1/2 years of human history, to impress us with this point.

It's only after we're good people that we can talk about being good Jews. OTOH, it's only after we learn and internalize some of the "user's manual" that we can distinguish our good intent with what the Manufacturer tells us would actually be best for His "product".

Anonymous said...

left out the shiur link. "A peaceful solution" from rebbe last year. I remember when he gave it, and I've listened to it often, and I happened on it today as well.

Anonymous said...

Rebbe always says: after a while it comes down to 'he started', so then we're just being children if we refuse to take the first step. The comments in this article are why no solution will be hammered out. The side with the achrayus to take the first step is infantile (and yes I am ArmedJew commenting over there!):

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...


But don't be so pessimistic because of comments like that. I've been in/observing a "dialogue" since yesterday with an ad hoc email group which is extremely prone to cause discouragement.

People can bring all of their "he said she said" and blame on either side to the table. That's fine. That's what it's designed for. If enough time is dedicated to the process, let people work out those past grievances. Fine! That's what the process is for. Just come in and participate.

First, the relagionships between the participants is very likely to change on some level and that's the biggest accomplishment and why I like this method regardless of whether a resolution is reached.

Second, there's a good chance that it would lead to a resolution of the issues discussed as well, so that would be a great bonus.

But we're brothers and it's so wrong to demonize the other side. IY"H, may the right people in the right positions get ahold of this idea and run with it! I'm happy to help. :-)

micha berger said...

Again, it's not "he said she said" nor "he started". It's one side trying to establish dialog in order to get the country out of a road to ruin, and the other side having already labeled them enemies whose "dialog" is really a Trojan Horse aimed at assimilation and destruction.

This underlies the who did what, and thus finding the beginning of the downward spiral, or how much of the tit-for-tat is real, is secondary.

Anonymous said...

micha berger said...

R Grylack of Mishpacha's reaction to the survey his magazine funded shows the reality of my perception:

"To admit the truth, we were stunned. If this poll is correct, we have been living all the time with a mistake. We were sure that the average secular Israeli despised us. Not only that, but we in the Haredi media in partnership with the Haredi politicians, spread this feeling and spoke about it over and over, all the time. And behold, this beautiful structure falls apart. Behold, it has become clear, that the truth is different: Most and close to all don't hate."

and MK Lipman's "I told you so" (why should I be the only one?):