Podcast: Yehoshua Pfeffer on Haredi Politics and Culture

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Since 1949, every election in Israel’s history has yielded a governing majority…until now. Though the bloc of right-wing parties emerged from the April 2019 Knesset elections with a clear majority, coalition negotiations fell apart when Avigdor Lieberman, head of the secular rightist Yisrael Beytenu party, made demands regarding the conscription of haredim into the Israel Defense Forces that were unacceptable to the ultra-Orthodox. Israelis will head back to the polls in September, but the key conflicts surrounding the place of the haredim within Israeli society are not going away any time soon.

What are the beliefs driving Lieberman and his supporters? What are the concerns motivating Israel’s ultra-Orthodox? And what does it mean for Israel that its haredi community is at the center of the nation’s latest political brouhaha?

This week, Jonathan Silver is joined by Rabbi Yehoshua Pfeffer, editor of Tikvah’s Israeli journal of haredi thought and ideas, Tzarich Iyun, and one of the most important figures thinking about and helping to shape the future of haredi politics and culture in Israel. They discuss the complicated relationship between the ultra-Orthodox and the IDF, the shifting attitudes toward broader Israeli society among younger haredim, and whether the haredi community needs to craft a new, non-exilic politics dedicated to creating a thriving Jewish state.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.

This podcast was recorded in front of a live audience at the Tikvah Center in New York City.

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