Sunday, July 19, 2009

Chareidi violence abating

It is important to note that JPost, Haaretz and YNet - did not report that Rav Sternbuch had come out against the violence - despite the fact that I sent them a copy of his letter. I guess they didn't have room for it.


After days of some of the worst haredi rioting in Jerusalem in years, a Jerusalem court on Friday placed a woman suspected of abusing her child under house arrest, leading to a dramatic drop in violence over the weekend.

The woman, who is alleged to have nearly starved her three-year-old son to death, was released on NIS 400,000 bail by the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court as part of a court-prodded accord between the two sides worked out by court president Judge Shlomit Dotan, which will see the suspect undergo a psychiatric evaluation on Sunday.

The woman's family and lawyers previously opposed such an examination.

The woman, a resident of the city's Mea She'arim neighborhood who is a member of the Toldot Aharon community, is believed to be suffering from Munchausen-syndrome-by-proxy, a psychiatric disorder in which a person deliberately abuses someone else, typically a child, in order to draw attention or sympathy to themselves.

News of the mother's arrest had sparked three days of intense rioting in the capital in which hundreds of protesters vandalized public property and pelted police and motorists with stones.

Saturday did not pass without violence, however, as four people were hurt on Rehov Bar-Ilan when their cab was pelted with stones by haredim, police said. Two of the passengers were hit in the head by the stones in the attack.[...]


  1. Anyone wishing to contact the sites mentioned to find out why they didn't feel R' Sternbachs comments were newsworthy may use the following information:

    Haaretz - general 03-512-1212, editorial (online) 03-512-1798 editorial (03-512-1751) (

    JPost -- 02-531-5666, Editor-in-Chief David Horovitz

    YNet --,

  2. From this week's American Yated (Page 3) by Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz. Well-worth the read. It makes extremely valuable points not covered ANYWHERE else in the online media (or in the print non-chareidi media):

    Before there were religious newspapers, the Jewish media world was owned by the maskilim. It took some time before religious Jewry realized the awesome power these papers wielded over the Jewish masses, in particular, the youth. They hastened the alienation from Torah and the embrace of non-Jewish culture that was rampant at the time. It was to stem that awful tide and to fight the wholesale distortion of truth that gedolim established newspapers and fought to obtain subscribers and financing.

    To those who are skeptical of the manipulative power of the press 100 years ago, a close look at the skewed reporting that prevails in our own day regarding recent events in Yerushalayim provides a cogent reality check. In many ways we are still fighting the same battle.

    Thanks to the power of persistent “drip-drip” journalism, the common perception of Chareidi Jews as a mass of vulgar rabble-rousers has taken deep root.

    Demonizing the Chilul Shabbos Protesters

    Let’s take a look at the demonstrations going on against the increased chillul Shabbos in Yerushalayim. Based on media reports, many of you are probably under the impression that mobs of fanatically religious Jews converged near City Hall to burn garbage pails and stone policemen. You’ve either read this fallacious reporting yourself in the media, or got it second or third hand from others who did.

    This is not to deny or condone the actions of a handful of miscreants who carried out these reprehensible actions. But the fact is, they are lone exceptions, certainly not the rule. Their actions are being exploited by irresponsible editors who seek to tar the entire Chareidi community with one brush.

    Students of history can cite dozens of hafganos which were called to stop autopsies, disturbing of ancient cemeteries, chillul Shabbos, giyus banos, yaldei teheran and the like. They can show you pictures of police beating religious Jews; of police shooting water cannons at women. They can give you the facts about the times choshuveh people such as Rav Yisroel Grossman were locked up in jail for participating in protests.

    I can offer my own personal testimony as well. Many years ago, I lived in the Ezras Torah section of Yerushalayim, where it was alleged at the time that the parents of today’s Shabbos rock-throwers would gather to stone policemen and cars traveling on K’vish Ramot. What actually happened was that some weeks, a few people would walk in from Meah Shearim to scream “Shabbos!” alongside the recently opened highway. Other weeks, no one showed up.

    From my porch, I had a bird’s eye view of the action—or more often, the lack of it. I never saw anyone do anything other than holler “Shabbos.” A single police car was stationed there to maintain order lest the multitudes arrive. Yet, every Motzoei Shabbos after Havdalah, turning on the radio to catch the headlines, I would hear how once again, the chareidim converged at K’vish Ramot, throwing stones and assaulting police!

    This was a blatant, deliberately fabricated urban legend. Not surprisingly, the masses in Israel bought it. Religious people became synonymous with crazed fundamentalists who embraced terror tactics on what was supposed to be a holy day of rest.


  3. (...cont...)

    Religious Apologists

    The problem is compounded when religious people who ought to know better get swept up in the propaganda. People who have never witnessed a protest over the desecration of Shabbos allow themselves to be manipulated by media hype. They encourage other frum Jews to write letters to the secular media decrying the objectionable behavior of their fellow chareidim. They rush to express sympathy for secular Israelis who are lobbying for a new parking lot—right opposite the walls of Yerushalayim.

    Rabbis who ought to know better feed the media one-liners against the violent extremists, as if they constitute a sizeable camp. They issue sharp indictments which reinforce the stereotype of Orthodox Jews as an archaic, intolerant bunch of people.

    Should Jews be engaging in violence? Of course not. Do we believe that burning garbage pails is the way to return Jews to their heritage? Of course not. But think of the media coverage splashed over these few incidents compared with the manner in which public protests in, let’s say, Iran, are treated by the world press.

    How many articles have you read condemning freedom-lovers for beating Tehran police? How many newspapers have featured pictures of Iranians setting fire to trash in their coverage of the election protests? Not one.

    Why is it that burning garbage pails in Iran are ignored and those in Yerushalayim are blown up and highlighted? Is it because only the former captures world sympathy? Is it because the media seeks to glorify the Iranian protesters while reserving its disgust for Jews who want only to protect what is sacred to them?

    Most disturbing, why is it that the religious media falls into the trap of accepting wholesale misrepresentation of the truth?

    Are there better ways to fight the battle for kedushas Shabbos? Most certainly. There is no excuse for violence and vandalism. But let’s consider the protests themselves, that are cleverly manipulated by authorities into turning violent. With politicians, the courts and public opinion all stacked against the religious community, what choice do those who anguish over chilul Shabbos have?

    In fact, it is only thanks to the ranks of idealistic protesters, who knowingly risked life and limb, that forced autopsies in Israel were halted, that giyus banos was dropped, and that there is no Shabbos traffic on Kikar Shabbos.

    Throw Lifelines, Not Stones

    It is indeed tragic that so many of our brethren remain ignorant about Shabbos observance. Due to the present global financial crunch, organizations in Israel that have succeeded in returning so many thousands to the religion of their forefathers are forced to cut back on their activities. It costs money to run effective kiruv organizations and the latter are millions of dollars in debt.

    Without good people digging into their pockets to help fight the battle bedarchei noam, the soldiers of Lev L’Achim, Shuvu, Chinuch Atzmai and all the rest can’t accomplish as much as they have in the past. They need our financial assistance in order to educate more Jews and to turn the tide of public opinion in favor of appreciating and safeguarding kedushas Shabbos.

    Let us all resolve to increase the honor of Shabbos in our personal lives and support those who open a window for their fellow Jews to the beauty and richness of Shabbos. Let us support those organizations that have demonstrated the ability to reach out to Jews from all walks of life who have been robbed of their birthright. Let us display more Ahavas Yisroel. Let us cast lifelines, not stones.

    And let’s not jump to conclusions about our heartbroken brothers who cry out, “Shabbos, Shabbos!” They are not only following the dictates of their conscience with their protests; they are also doing our job—yours and mine.

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  5. I admit that I was not around to see the Bar Ilan protests, and I don't know if R' Lipschutz's accounts are any more accurate than the "standard" tale.

    However, I assume he doesn't doubt the official figures for number of garbage cans burned this time, and the number of traffic lights smashed.

    I can also confirm (first hand witness as well as stories from close friends) that many of the protests in RBS-B and Bet Shemesh have included rock throwing, targeted at both police and civilian vehicles and people.

    With this comment "But let’s consider the protests themselves, that are cleverly manipulated by authorities into turning violent," he also reveals a deep bias. We have a halachic principle that אין שליח לדבר עבירה, and that's the bottom line. No cop or politician is responsible for the behavior of any chareidi (or chiloni, for that matter) bochur over the age of bar mitzvah.


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