If I had a dime for every time I've heard someone say "the Haredim (Ultra Orthodox) are taking over" I'd have a nice little savings account. Ditto for the comments about the high Orthodox birth rate.
What most people don't seem to understand is that The Haredim are no more of a block than any other Jewish group. Less, it seems.
Just read an article yesterday in the media about two groups of Lithuanian Haredim who are supporting different candidates in the upcoming Jerusalem elections. One faction has been extremely outspoken in their disapproval of the other faction, going as far as to say that anyone who votes for the opposing candidates “is supporting criminals and, whether deliberately or by accident, is desecrating God’s name.”
So now, not only are the Litai'im (Lithuanian, non-Hassidic Haredim) and Hassidim not in agreement, and not only are the Ashkanazim and Sepharadim not in agreement, even within their own block, there are problems.
I don't think that the people who are concerned about "The Haredim" taking over have much to worry about. The Jewish people, however, should be a bit worried.
Elections were on my mind when I walked through town today. I noticed, several days ago, that one of the biggest pro-candidate shops had switched and was not displaying the banners of one of the rival mayoral candidates. I approached the shopowner, who I know, who told me that he switched alliances because his first choice didn't have as many supporters as the candidate had indicated (mostly referring to how many rabbis are standing behind him) so the shopowner switched to the second candidate.
He then proceeded to tell me that he couldn't support the present mayor because of "all sorts of reasons that he didn't want to go into here." He did tell me that the mayor had given 22 million shekels to one particular religious group in return for that group's support -- I find that rather difficult to believe. I must say, the whole conversation didn't put this particular shopkeeper in a very good light, no matter how much of an insider he may be. (Someone told me that, before coming to Tzfat to open his shop, he'd been a high level operative in the Mossad and had been involved in spiriting Jews out of dangerous countries).
I live in a crazy place.