The Jerusalem Post reports:
Only a quarter of haredi rabbis favor publicizing scandals involving their peers, but three-quarters admit muckraking is an effective deterrent, according to a survey funded by the Lipshitz Religious Education College.
Rabbis said they were concerned that investigative reports on the misdoings of rabbis would desecrate God’s name, said Dr. Yoel Cohen, of the Holon Institute of Technology, who conducted the study.
“Generally speaking, religious people misunderstand the media. They think media has an ideological agenda when in reality it is driven by commercial concerns.” Over the past several months Cohen surveyed 300 haredi, national religious and non-Orthodox rabbis. Those surveyed were asked to express their opinions on freedom of the press, the public’s right to know, and the impact of the media on people of faith.
In his survey, Cohen differentiated between “mainstream” national religious rabbis and “hardalim”, a hybrid term that combines haredi and “leumi,” or nationalist. The term refers to the more conservative, mostly younger, settlement rabbis who combine a very strict interpretation of Jewish law with religious Zionism.
“I found huge differences between mainstream rabbis and hardalim. Hardal rabbis are very similar to haredim in their outlook,” said Cohen.
“They tend to be more suspicious of a free press and less liberal.” Cohen found that rabbis born in Arabic countries were the most conservative on issues such as freedom of the press, the impact of the media on religious values, and the conflict between media and religion.
For instance, only 17 percent of rabbis born in Arabic countries said they agreed with the Western principle protecting the public’s right to know.
In contrast, 61% of Israelis and 83% of Anglo-Saxons from all streams of Judaism said they favored the principle.
No surprise here. It seems the fear of the media grows exponentially as a sector’s crimes multiply. In other words, it isn’t just cultural–the closer a rabbi is to crime, the more he fears the press.
Does that mean haredim commit more crime? Sure. Tax fraud, money laundering, draft dodging, welfare fraud and any number of frauds and scams, not to mention general thuggery aimed at opponents. And most of these crimes are institutional, not carried out by and for individuals but by institutions for their communities.
The settlers are next in line–remember the behavior surrounding Disengagement? The MO after that. I suspect they commit fewer crimes than the other sectors in large part because they’re too busy working to get involved with cheap scams or riots.