The High Court Isn't Racist

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In this article, which was published in Haaretz on June 16, 2010, IDI Senior Researcher Yair Sheleg looks at the battle over ethnic segregation in the religious girls' school in Immanuel and asserts that Jewish religious law is not racist; rather, the social norms that characterize the ultra-Orthodox worldview are at the heart of the conflict.

The case of ethnic discrimination at a girls' religious school in Immanuel should be examined from the standpoint of both principle and practicality.

On the level of principle, there are no words to describe the shame provoked by this blatant ultra-Orthodox racism. This isn't a debate between a High Court of Justice ruling and orders from on high, as some Haredim would have us believe, because there is nothing in the leading halakhic texts, such as the Shulhan Arukh and the Mishneh Torah, that sanctions such discrimination. Indeed, there could be no such ruling, since both Joseph Karo and Moses Maimonides, who compiled the Shulhan Arukh and the Mishneh Torah, respectively, were themselves Sephardim.

The issue, then, is not Jewish religious law, but rather the racist social norms that characterize the entire ultra-Orthodox worldview.." 

Read the full article on the Haaretz website 

   Mr. Yair Sheleg is a Senior Researcher at IDI.