Feb 6, 2007

zealous protests

For the past week or so the roads through Ramat Bet Shemesh B have been shut down sporadically.

No, there have been no roadworks going on.

The cause of the road closures are a series of violent protests going on through the neighborhood of RBS B.

The exact source of the problem is a bit unclear. You will get different details from each person you ask. But the general story is that about 10 days ago a woman from RBS B was found dead. She was in the middle of divorce proceedings and her husband had had a restraining order keeping him away from her house. The restraining order had just expired and he had come by "to see the kids". The next thing anybody knows is that she turns up dead in the street near her place of employment (she worked in a mikva).

Some of the local zealots assumed the police would attempt to take the body for an autopsy. They repeated an act that they did a few months ago in Ashdod and stole the body away under the watchful eye of the police. This time, though, they had to use violence to run off with the body. They got a group of people to help them and they beat up the few police who had been keeping watch over the body.

Eventually the situation was cleared up. They agreed there would be no autopsy, just an external examination. the body was returned, the funeral was held and all was ok.

Then the police came and arrested a number of people. This is where it gets unclear. It is unclear whether they arrested the people involved in stealing the body, involved in beating the police, involved in planning and running the incident, or just innocent bystanders who were "watching" at one of the original protests.

Since the police arrested those people, many people from that neighborhood have been holding protests in the streets on a daily and nightly basis. They throw rocks at buses. They shove garbage bins into the street. They hurl debris at people, buses, cars and police. I understand that the police have removed all the garbage bins from the area, so now the people are going out themselves and blocking the roads.

Last night I went to a wedding. I got a ride with a friend. For some reason on the way back he decided to drive through RBS B to get to our neighborhood. This is at about 11:00 PM. We get to a certain intersection to find the rest of the road blocked off by the police due to protests taking place further up the road. We turned around and went another way.

I, personally, no longer drive through RBS B. If I need to get somewhere that requires my crossing through B, I take alternate routes using either the back road or the main highway #38. Even though those routes are longer than crossing through RBS B, one never knows if he will make it through B or encounter a road block, or worse possibly encounter a rock to the windshield. The only time I go through RBS is if I need to go to the Post Office, which is located in RBS B. I stopped using the stores in B. I no longer travel that route.

The situation there has gotten way out of hand and it seems like the police can hardly control it. I am tired of hearing the excuse that it is just a few people and they act on nobody's authority and do not listen to the local Rabbonim who tell them to stop. I no longer believe it.

Aside from the damage they cause to our cars and buses, aside from tying up police resources, aside from causing many people an inconvenience, aside from anything else, they are holding their own neighbors hostage to their stupidity. If the neighbors and Rabbonim of the area did not agree, they would have found ways of stopping it by now, even if that meant throwing them out of the neighborhood. They find ways of chasing out other people who they do not want living among them, they can find ways of getting rid of these people as well.

Even if you justify their having stolen the dead body on religious grounds that autopsies are prohibited and they were right in their zealotry, that in no way justifies what is happening. Part of being a zealot is the idea that you are doing something you fiercely believe in despite the threat of consequences.

If they fiercely believed in the necessity of stealing the body and can thereby justify the theft and subsequent violence on those religious grounds, then they should have done so with accepting any possible consequences, including their arrests. To increase violence because they were arrested for their actions is hypocritical. They should be proud of being arrested for the honor of defending the Torah and should leave the rest of us alone.

And the police need to do their job. If it means beating a few of them over the head with nightsticks, so be it. Open those roads, protect the people driving through from flying objects, and let us live our lives like normal people.


  1. You left out the fires - bruing tires and garbage cans...

  2. thanks for adding that. it slipped my mind..

  3. Who could forget the same protests for separate seating on some of the Egged bus lines to the area? I know of one bus line to that area that's already separate; who knows what will happen to the others?

  4. you are not painting a pretty picture of life in israel. unfortunately this activity is becoming more common. apologists can no longer write it off as an aberation. i guess they've learned a lesson from palestinian terrorists.

    "Then the police came and arrested a number of people. This is where it gets unclear. It is unclear whether they arrested the people involved in stealing the body, involved in beating the police, involved in planning and running the incident, or just innocent bystanders who were "watching" at one of the original protests."

    except for the bystanders, they should all be arrested. and so should any rabbonim and communal leaders who ex post fact justify the violence.

  5. Hey Rafi,thanks for all the great feedback on my blog.

    My parents live in Geula and when I was growing up, blocking roads and all was very common. In fact, I participated in the riots on Bar-Ilan Ave ..Remember those?

    I only went because...well,I was 11 years old and it was so exciting! Policemen everywhere , water cannons soaking the chassidim,
    What better way to celebrate shabbos?

    Obviously,now I know better than to be a menace to the public but I feel that a lot of what goes on is because people are simply bored.

    No television, no sports, no way to release energy. So..Lets go burn some garbage cans! Throw some rocks!

    How sad.

  6. tnspr - you are right. it seems they have itchy trigger fingers to protest...

    ari - that's right. But no rabbonim justify it publicly. They bow off with the excuse that they have no control over these people. But I am pretty sure that some of them at least quietly push these events to happen. As I wrote in the post, when somebody moves into the neighborhood who does not comply with their "levels of tznius", or someone form a different social group, or someone with kids that are troubled teens, etc. they find ways of forcing them out. When people go shopping in their neighborhood dressed to different tznius standards, they have ways of pressuring them to either change their dress when they come in or shop elsewhere. They shoul ddo the same for these peopel they say they condemn but have no power over.

    jacob - that is very sad, but very true to an extent. When I wa sin yeshiva we went to a lot of protests as well, including many of thos eon Bar Ilan. A lot of us went simply for the reasons that we were looking for excitement.

  7. A VERY reliable source told me that crap head named Kopshitz who lives in the Kirya is the 'rabbi' behind the protests.

  8. Yes, we can see how reliable you are...

  9. there is nothing reliable about an anonymous source (when both the source and the commenter). It might be true, but your comment does nothing to convince anyone.

    Also, anonymous name-calling is just babyish. Act your age and stop calling people names (how old are you - maybe you are acting your age).

  10. On a positive note, *none* of these guys wear tekhelet.


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