As a former member of the Hasidic community of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, I have been shocked by the ugly rise of Heshy Tischler, the now infamous demagogue at the center of violent coronavirus protests rocking Borough Park.
But I was not really surprised. What interested me most was not just the danger it clearly represents, but the social dynamics that brought the Haredi Jewish community to this dark place.
Tischler, who was arrested by the NYPD on Sunday, has been accused, among other things, of inciting a mob against Orthodox journalist Jacob Kornbluh. Tischler is the man behind the hype behind massive protests against new restrictions on places of worship, businesses and schools aimed at curbing soaring rates of coronavirus infection in heavily Hasidic parts of New York City.
Like most things in politics, this outburst of anger did not come out of nowhere. On the contrary, as one member of the community who spoke on condition of anonymity to the Daily Beast put it, that rage “has been mounting for years.”
In fact, Tischler’s rhetoric is not that different from the rhetoric that has come from many Haredi leaders over the years.
As the community member explained, for more than a decade, some Hasidic community groups repeatedly used a simple argument to distract from their failures: They come for you.
“They always framed every failure as the government pursued them. And what’s happening now is these people grew up with that message, and so they’re now acting on it, ”the community member told The Daily Beast. “Whether it is leadership through the measles crisis, through reform [controversial circumcision ritual] metzitzah b’peh … they described it as ‘we are hated’.
All of these examples are times when the government tried to restrict the Haredi community and their leaders spread the message that the problem was not community-based. For example, the problem was not the anti-vaxx feelings leading to the measles crisis. The problem was not the poverty caused by the lack of secular education in the community. The problem was not the dangers of the practice of sucking the blood of a baby’s circumcision.
Instead, the leaders said, the government – whether Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, or someone else – was right about the Jews.
The rise of Heshy Tischler, then – a candidate who does not contend for city council – should be seen as the logical extension of a rhetoric that has simply not been fully implemented thus far. As Asher Lovy, an anti-abuse activist who grew up in Orthodox Borough Park, says, “I don’t think it starts with Tischler. It ends with him.
In other words, the way the grievances of Brooklyn’s Haredi and Hasidic communities have long been entertained by interested leaders could be seen as analogous or even deeply related to the existential fear many Trump supporters feel about losing their version. from America.
Both groups have been widely manipulated and used by leaders who have repeatedly failed and then translated those failures into an Us vs. Them argument – an argument where other perverts push to destroy their way of life.
A few years ago, Republicans learned they couldn’t control the logical outcome of this rhetoric: Donald Trump. Here is a man who said the things they said in a low voice and winks but with screams and cries, and a request that something be done.
“They hate their leadership. They shout, “Why isn’t anyone doing anything ?!” … Heshy is doing something.“
This is currently happening with the COVID-19 crisis that is shaking the Hasidic community.
Lovy pointed out to me, as have other voices in the community, that Haredi protests, including violent protests, are not unusual … in Israel. The reason, in these cases: the push for the Haredim to be drafted into the military at age 18 along with the rest of Israel’s Jewish community. It was and is seen as an existential threat to their way of life, as it is a direct passage into the secular world.
Many people find it difficult to understand how incredibly impactful the COVID-19 restrictions are for people who view community Jewish observance as what gives them life. Combine that with the firmly entrenched belief among these communities – despite their harshness – that the dangers of COVID-19 are exaggerated, and you have a combination that leads one to believe that Jewish communities are being targeted in a way that they haven’t. summer. been seen since the Nazis.
As implausible as it sounds Hitler’s second coming is somehow embodied in the combination of politicians like de Blasio and Cuomo, the Haredi rulers have built an enemy that must be fought – and fought hard.
In the words of community members, “they hate their leadership. They shout, “Why isn’t anyone doing anything ?!” … Heshy is doing something.
And that, in a nutshell, is perhaps the perfect summary of the rise of Heshy Tischler, the Donald Trump of the Haredi Jewish community. It is do something. This Something is organizing loud rallies that have led to the beating of at least two Haredi Jews from Borough Park, a mob that has stood outside the home of one of them – Kornbluh – and threatens further violence.
In a speech after his release, Tischler simultaneously said he spoke out against violence while using violent rhetoric, claiming that he would “knock out this Cuomo,” a form of double talk he has been using from day one that might sound familiar to those who pay attention to a certain American. President.
While this wave of protest has not resulted in any tangible change, it at least “looks” like change, as Lovy put it. “The askanim [established communal activists] were not very effective in reversing [coronavirus] mandates. Neither does Heshy. But the difference is that Heshy makes them feel like they are part of something, participating in the fight to save their religion.
As we have seen in America and beyond, the power of a man interested in helping people who feel victimized by turning their helplessness and fear into rage and violence is one of the most powerful forces that shape our world today. Tischler may not know much, but he does.
#Hasidic #Brooklyn #ready #MAGA #Chaos