Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Haredi website fighting back against 'biased secular media'
'Dossim' seeks to present haredi view on current affairs while hitting back against recent slew of anti-haredi media reports
What does a group of young haredim frustrated with the recent outpouring of hatred against their sector do when they feel it has all gone out of proportion? Launch a website and fight back.
Yet there is still room for debate. Site founder Shmuel Drilman welcomes secular writers. "I disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it," he says, quoting Voltaire adding, as long as it is mutual.
A random review of the website reveals a letter written by a haredi yeshiva student to the "suckers" camp, under that a long list of harsh statements against the haredim which were published in the media, and a variety of columns written by men and women explaining the sector's stance on the latest issues.
"For many years now, every haredi who uses the internet on a daily basis feels that there is a very biased discussion, explains Drilman, 27, from Beitar Illit, he believes: "It's no longer a matter of right or wrong, the discussion is tendentious to begin with. I fear is that my children won't be able to walk in Tel Aviv and eat ice cream without some passerby screaming 'parasite' or 'draft dodger' or both at them.
"These days there are social networks and well heeled organizations with the sole purpose of delegitimizing the haredim."
Drilman, an entrepreneur who completed his civil service claims that the less a secular person knows about haredim, the more he is likely to use slogans when talking about them. And that is exactly what he is trying to do through the website.
According to Drilman, even when the media tries to present a balanced report, it does not do so properly. "If you present seven minutes of haredi rioting in Mea Shearim and at the end you have one spokesman who condemns (the riots) – and he represents the majority, it isn't exactly proportional."
"The context in which haredim usually come up in the media is negative or disturbed. A journalist would never copy that article and change the words haredi to Ethiopian, Arab or Russian immigrant. Only when it's haredim is it allowed.
So how do you tip the scales?
Drilman believes "It begins by being a platform for a variety of haredi writers; a platform for stories that the general media doesn't expose, like observant soldiers in military prison who were forced to desecrate the Sabbath.
"Or a haredi soldier who went on a bus and was screamed at by the driver who called him a free loader – while he was in uniform. Stories of secular draft dodging, facts hidden from the public and more.
"A famous American professor once presented research on the process that leads to genocide. What's happening here today should scare any sane person in Israel because this is how it starts. First you delegitimize haredim, then you demonize and the next stage is discriminatory laws and we are definitely on our way there
The highlight of the website is the "Correspondent on secular affairs" a parody of the media's correspondent on haredi affairs. Yair, one of the writers, does to the secular population what he believes is being done to the haredi sector. Meaning, an anthropological overview seasoned with a great deal of ignorance.