‘Strictly Ortho­dox more threat­en­ing than Arabs’

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY NATHAN JEFFAY

JEWISH LEAD­ERS around the world are wor­ried about Strictly Ortho­dox dom­i­nance in Jerusalem even more than the im­pact of Arab pop­u­la­tion growth, ac­cord­ing to a ma­jor new study on di­as­pora Jewry.

The Jewish Peo­ple Pol­icy In­sti­tute asked 500 Jewish peo­ple around the world how they felt about the fast growth of Arab and Charedi pop­u­la­tions in Jerusalem.

The think-tank was told in fo­cus groups that di­as­pora Jews see a grow­ing Charedi pop­u­la­tion as hav­ing a neg­a­tive ef­fect on Jerusalem’s char­ac­ter, with a grow­ing Arab pop­u­la­tion hav­ing a lesser im­pact.

Sh­muel Ros­ner, one of the di­rec­tors of the study, said that this came out in con­ver­sa­tions and also in ex­er­cises that he asked in­ter­vie­wees to do.

When they were asked to choose a new Jerusalem mayor in a mock elec­tion, an Arab can­di­date with a man­i­festo re­flect­ing com­mon Arab be­liefs fared far bet­ter than a Charedi can­di­date rep­re­sent­ing his com­mu­nity.

“The Charedi can­di­date was a non­starter for the vast ma­jor­ity of the peo­ple in the fo­cus groups,” said Mr Ros­ner.

A com­mu­nity mem­ber in St Louis, Mis­souri, com­mented in a fo­cus group: “I have a prob­lem with con­trol and dom­i­na­tion by the Charedim, who I see as in­tol­er­ant.”

Only 28 per cent of peo­ple that the JPPI spoke to said that Charedi pop­u­la­tion growth is a “pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ment” be­cause it al­lows Jews of dif- fer­ent out­looks to live to­gether, while some 45 per cent saw Arab growth as pos­i­tive.

Avi­noam Bar-Yosef, pres­i­dent of the JPPI, said that di­as­pora lead­ers “are wor­ried that it will make those who are not Ortho­dox feel less com­fort­able in Jerusalem.”

He pointed to an ap­par­ent con­tra­dic­tion in the study: while re­spon­dents were more con­cerned about Charedi pop­u­la­tion growth, one of their main hopes is that Jerusalem con­tin­ues to have more Jewish res­i­dents than Arab res­i­dents.

Mr Bar-Yosef said: “If you ask what you would like to have as the char­ac­ter of Jerusalem, all of them want a Jewish ma­jor­ity but, when you talk about Charedim, peo­ple feel that, be­cause of them, there is less pluralism.”

PHOTO: FLASH 90

Dis­apora Jews worry more about Charedim than about Arabs in Jerusalem, the study says

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