Friday, August 15, 2008

Big Brother in Beit Shemesh II/ The true story

Bartley Kulp's comment to "Big Brother in Beit Shemesh":
"Tombeck charges that it is the modern Orthodox who are escalating the war by holding demonstrations, using political muscle and speaking to the media."
This statement from Rabbi Tombeck is pure unadulterated spin. Holding demonstrations and using political muscle is a time honored chareidi tradition. Especially in Beit Shemesh!

Now hear this! I am going to tell you all a story Years before the zeolots in Beit Shemesh broke into the national media spotlight things were already brewing there.

I do not know the exact year that people started moving into Ramat Beit Shemesh. Nor do I know which communities were promised what or who got there first in significant numbers.

What I do know is that by 2003 there were already two rapidly growing communities there that were competing to inherit the earth.

Just to make a note for background information, that was also a municipal election year. At stake was the question what kind of infrastructure the city was going to further invest in. The Chareidim wanted further housing developement for kollel families and the dati leumi wanted to invest in infrastructure that would facilitate businesses and possibly new factories in order to enhance employment prospects in Beit Shemesh. They were also on a better government anti corruption and efficiency platform. Both parties were fielding candidates for the city council. The chareidim also fielded their own candidate for mayor against the likud incumbent. In the end both sides took a beating to the Likud. Mayor vaknin kept his post and Shas who had a large presence in the city council lost many of their seats. They also subsequently lost their municipal posts. Another issue that was brewing was that all time favorite thing to fight about between secular dati leumi and chareidim, who will get what municipal resources for their schools. The fact that the unexpectedly rapid demographic increase in RBS out stripped the municipals ability to quickly facilitate school space for the various communities just aggravated the situation. In fighting and lawsuits just slowed down the situation fueling more aggravation and fights.

The reason why I am writing about all of this is because it is the backdrop of many of the cultural campaigns that were to follow. However I am not suggesting that there is a sinister plot connection between the culture campaign that has been waged by the chareidim in RBS and the issues that I have mentioned above. However they do not help things and increase an already incendiary atmosphere. Those issues might be part of the cause of that atmosphere.

Already in 2003 there were zealots blocking the main road that passes through RBS Bet and throwing rocks at cars that were driving through on Shobbos. Also during that same year the municipality gave the local Bnei Akiva a property to use in RBS Aleph, on a street called Nachal Micha. At the time this was a mixed street. I believe it still is. Residents of both groups were dissatisfied with their situation. They were stuck paying mortgages for properties in neighborhoods that were not shaping up to how each side originally envisioned. When Bnei Akiva received usage of that property, the local chareidi residents responded. The fear was that there would be teenagers of both sexes hanging out on the street in mixed company. The neighborhood rabbanim responded by circulating a petition around the neighborhood to give to the municipality against Bnei Akiva opening on the street. I do not know whether it was the petition on its own merit or wrangling in the municipality but that Bnei Akiva chapter never managed to open on that street.

In 2005 a demonstration was led by Rav mordechai Goldstein (the mora d'asra of Kehillat Yaakov RBS Alef) at the main shopping center in RBS Alef. This was a protest against the eateries there that they felt were becoming teenage hangouts at night. They wanted that those businesses should close earlier.

In 2006 during a Lag B'Omer bonfire celebration Rav Shlomo Perlststein (mora d'asra of RBS Alef) led a demonstration against this group of celebrators (all of whom were religious) after hearing that men and women were mingling and socializing. I would like to note that most of these people were husbands and wives who were sitting out of the dancing or just resting. There was no coed dancing going on there. He brought many of his close followers and forcefully broke up the celebration. These are just the examples that I am aware of. Then the rest is media history. These are just a few examples that Rav Tombek would lead you to believe did not happen. After all he has stated that it was the Modern who introduced protesting and the usage of political muscle in Ramat Beit Shemesh, hence escalating things. Not the fact that they have been the victims of violent attacks for the past two years. This is what is called an LSD spin.

1 comment :

  1. From
    Wed., August 20, 2008 Av 19, 5768
    Last update - 10:05 20/08/2008

    Religious modesty guard 'enjoys support of rabbis and police'

    By Haaretz Staff and Channel 10

    Tags: Ultra-Orthodox, Modesty Guard 10 daily feature for August 19, 2008.

    A member of the Modesty Patrol, a group of ultra-Orthodox men working to eradicate so-called immodest behavior in Haredi areas, has detailed in a rare interview an organization that enjoys the support of rabbis and the police.

    The group has existed in some form since the establishment of the State of Israel, and is suspected of recently stepping up its violent acts.

    While it claims its focus is on advocacy, members have been recently been accused of breaking into homes, violent assault and forcing women to move to the back of public buses.

    Thu., August 14, 2008 Av 13, 5768
    Last update - 22:38 09/08/2008

    VIDEO / Ultra-Orthodox 'Modesty Guard' suspected of beating Jerusalem woman

    By Haaretz Staff and Channel 10

    Tags: Ultra-Orthodox, Jerusalem 10 daily feature for August 7, 2008.


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