Due to the rapid development of the technology industry, Israel is called the country of start-ups. However, for members of the local ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities, this is more of a problem: the question of whether smartphones are compatible with tradition and who should decide the issue of access to the Internet causes heated debate here, according to The Guardian.
Israel's ultra-Orthodox population, the Haredim, is growing. Now 12% of Israelis consider themselves Haredim, and by 2050, according to forecasts, every fourth inhabitant of the country will become ultra-Orthodox. Most of this community adheres to the traditional canons of Judaism and lives in accordance with conservative customs that have developed by the 20th century, and therefore avoid television, media and other signs of civilization that threaten their way of life. The problem of mobile phones was solved at one time thanks to the introduction of "kosher" mobile phones - they filter calls, allowing you to communicate only with approved numbers, and have neither cameras nor Internet access. The only apps allowed on a kosher smartphone are clock, calculator, and navigation software.
However, with the digitalization of life, it is becoming increasingly difficult to do without a full-fledged smartphone. As in many other high-income countries, many services: paying taxes and utility bills, accessing bank accounts, etc. – in Israel has mostly moved online.
The issuance of kosher certificates in Israel is handled by the Rabbinical Committee for Communications, an organization whose activities are non-transparent and which allows and prohibits this or that content and contacts at its own discretion. Blocked sites and numbers include not only news sites, but also sites with public transport timetables, phone numbers for medical and domestic violence services. Kosher rooms are served only by kosher providers, which limits competition.
Through its monopoly, the Rabbinical Communications Committee is rumored to earn 75 million shekels annually. Late last year, Israel's Communications Ministry attempted to hold hearings to abolish the existing system, guided by antitrust law, but failed due to strong backlash from some community leaders. Within the community, smartphone vendors emerged who opposed the committee's monopoly and refused to obey the committee's instructions. Because they sell non-kosher equipment, they are called collaborators, threatened and prevented from working. But progress is unstoppable, and the future is theirs. A recent study by the Israel Democracy Institute found that against all odds, Haredim are gradually moving online. Two-thirds of Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jews use the Internet for email, work, search for information, access to banks and services, and half of them use social networks.