Monday, July 19, 2010

Atheism vs Theocracy: Round 1.

I was shocked to find so many more religious Jews in Jerusalem, and in Israel in general than when I left almost 30 years ago. Oodles of orthodox and ultra-orthodox, which are not very tolerant people.
But I have news for them. I am not tolerant of them either. I could give a shit about their delusional holiness. And I'm tired of secular Jews giving them the widest berth. They don't deserve it. And this unrequited respect secular Jews have for these people is going to come back and bite us in the ass very soon, if not already.
We went to the ultra-orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem, a place in the new city where there are no holy places, just people who deem themselves holier than thou. They have massive signs on the street that say that "groups severely offend" the inhabitants of the neighborhood. Groups of what, I don't know. Humans who choose to live in the 21st century? People who dislike long sleeves and skirts in 100 degree heat?  So I was wearing short sleeves and long pants. However, the Magnificent Arepa, tired of covering up at 105 degree heat in Aqaba so as not to incur the morbid stares of Arab men, was wearing a short skirt and a t-shirt. In any case, there we go walking down Mea Shearim street, nobody saying anything. Ultra Orthodox men are forbidden to look or speak at a woman that is not covered. Most ignored us, probably used to the fact that they live in a town with lots of tourists. As we went deeper into the neighborhood, a religious woman who looked old, as they all do, suddenly announces to us that it is forbidden to walk around on the street like that. I could have easily said, okay, we'll leave, but it offended me she used the word "forbidden". Because that is not the case. It may offend her, but there is no law that states that one cannot walk on the streets of Jerusalem wearing whatever one wants. So I said in my best smartass Hebrew, "it's not forbidden, why is it forbidden?" She said that it was written in many languages that it is offensive to the people of the neighborhood. I would have left it at that, had not appeared in the horizon a secular Jewish woman, with a professorial air, wearing pants and guiding a group of tourists whose women had obviously been asked to cover up their arms and legs. This woman started butting in at no one's request saying that we were disrespecting "us". "Who is us? I'm a Jew, a secular Jew", I said, "and I can wear whatever I want because this is a free country". "No, it isn't", she informs me. A screaming match ensued in English and Hebrew, and one of her charges, a meek looking tourist, decided to chime in: "I'm not Jewish and I'm wearing a long skirt", she said. So therefore she has gained a place in Heaven? This makes me a bad Jew? WTF? I bellowed at her, "I don't care what you are. There are also secular Jews in this country and we can walk down the street however we like. Don't look at her legs, if you find them so offensive", I said to the guide. She was about to have a conniption. She threw us out of "my neighborhood" and said something about the Palestinians which was so out of context and so utterly incoherent that all I could say was "give me a fucking break".
I was not about to retreat, so we burrowed deeper into that God-forsaken, medieval hellhole. I'm waiting for the day when God appears to these people. First thing It's going to say is, "Who told you to be so utterly benighted? So contemptuous of and disrespectful to women? So ignorant and stupid? Certainly, it wasn't Me".
But now I felt really uncomfortable and claustrophobic. I feared a retaliatory mob, despite the fact that nobody else batted an eye. We finally found a way to get out of there. Again, the super-orthodox did not say a word to us, but this four letter word that starts with a c, decided to become, as we say in Spanish, more Popist than the Pope, because who knows what crap she must have been saying to those poor tourists, stuck in a one horse town full of lunatic zealots that don't respect anybody but themselves but expect us modern citizens of the world to worship at the altar of their selfrighteouness.
They can kiss my Jewish ass.


  1. Tough as nails, señorita Mam. This is why I appreciate you being in MY corner. :)

  2. Tova in Toronto11:29 AM

    You havent even scratched the surface of their insularism and bigotry, but the time has come for secularism to rise up and start showing these religious bigots up for their true colours instead of allowing them their bigotry to assuage what is a collective secular Diasporan guilt trip.

  3. That's right, Tova! Thanks for your comments. You make me feel less alone!

  4. When you're in Rome, aren't you supposed to do as the Romans do?

  5. True, David. I was overcome by a feeling of looking for a fight.