Feb 4, 2008

the violence in bet Shemesh was a figment of your imagination

That's right. you heard me. There was never any violent act in Bet Shemesh. At least not by the Haredi community (of course the secular community is full of violence in their schools because they do not teach the ways of the Torah). Never. If anybody claims otherwise, they are making it up.

You must think I am on drugs or something. Maybe I have a short memory - actually I do.

Remember all those nights when the roads through RBS B were shut down and blocked off because the Haredi violence put people driving by in danger? Remember the bricks being thrown at cars? Garbage cans being overturned in the streets? The nails bent into V's being strewn in the street, sure to pop tires? The guy who was recently threatened because he was watching TV in his living room and someone across the street was looking into his window and could see the TV? the pizza shop guy who was told to leave or he would be killed? The guy who was recently beaten and sent to the hospital while his car windows were smashed and his tires slashed? Feh, you call that violence? It was all in your imagination!!

What am I talking about?? I must be nuts!

Last week there was a meeting between a group of residents concerned about the increasing level of violence and the lack of control displayed by the city and Police in protecting the rest of the areas residents.

I could not be present at the meeting. Aside from that I consider these meetings a waste of time. It is generally a chance for residents to blow off steam and for the mayor and police to make promises they have no intention of keeping.

I was sent two reviews by 2 other residents who were present at the meeting.. This is how they described it...

resident #1:"The citizens yelled hysterically and said nothing constructive. The mayor spoke like a politician and said nothing constructive."

resident #2 (a bit more detailed):"Sharon Ra'anan began at 5:20, two minutes after the mayor got there. (The police chief had been on time, and IMHO, since we only had the room until 6, we should have started at 5 with HIS questions...) Her most important point, perhaps, was saying that Brenda Ganot of Partnership 2000 in Washington told here that the group will pull out its half million dollars worth of programs from BS unless this violence ends. Everyone - including Vaknin and Eliasi, got copies of the questions they would be asked - an excellent idea, because though few questions were actually publicly answered, they see from the list what's most important to us.
The first question was about the plot of land ostensibly planned to be given to the extremists which is on the edge of Bet instead of being way inside. Vaknin started with stories, and Catriel kept asking him to just answer the question. Other people shouted too, and Vaknin basically said no decision had yet been made on the plot (correct me if I'm wrong!). But Vaknin wasn't talking "la'inyan" and after several minutes the police chief got up instead. He was better - at least he answered several questions - but his answers were not what we wanted to hear. He flat out denied that police were afraid to go into Bet, and that the wife of the guy who got beaten up was told that the answer was to move out. Then a woman interrupted him, terribly upset, telling how she and her kids were in her car in Bet when they got stoned, and how when she called the police they told her to try to get out to Rehov Rashi (!!) instead of coming to her aid. Chief said the procedure during riots is to get 100 officers to the scene before going in, because if he just sent in a couple of cars, they'd get damaged and the men inside hurt. That outraged the crowd, because isn't the police's job to protect civilians first?? When chief was asked how police will protect the family that got threatened on Gad, he talked about needing proof against people before arresting them for such letters - i.e. he didn't answer the question. (B"H, I read what Dov wrote tonight about the meeting Rabbi David had with some of the haredim who live on Herzog, which will hopefully do what the police didn't - protect the family.) Vaknin came back on, and the only other question he answered was to deny that he'd had a secret meeting with any haredim. Several people called out comments, one woman up front spoke for at least 3-4 minutes, mentioning the need for opening Route 10 (we all clapped), and one man in the back shouted out that he was very afraid that until someone got killed, chas veshalom, things wouldn't get better. Vaknin said at that point that he wanted to meet with reps of the community (another man got up and asked him to name time and date right then and there, and he'd be there...), and would like this fellow to join in - and he agreed immediately. So the outcome was that supposedly our mayor will meet with people like Sharon, Catriel, etc, and that he saw how angry that packed room was. Sharon wrapped it up by reminding us all that elelctions are in November, and unless we see improvement, we'll know how to vote. BTW, Shalom Lerner and Jacky Edri were there from the moetza- Ichud HaLeumi and Mafdal - but I didn't see Moshe Montag or other haredi anglo reps. Too bad. There were, I guess, about 300 people there, and probably 90% were from the Givah, Nofei Aviv, the other 10 % from the Rama. A couple of native Israelis. A photographer or two, David Stern of Connections and Temura, and I think Jeremy Wimpfheimer who writes for the J.Post sometimes. Hope THEY get the rest of the answers we didn't!"

The local Haredi leadership has been called on numerous times to reject the violence and the perpetrators of these acts. They remain silent. The general excuse by those who support them is that not every time some bored people do something wrong do we need to respond to it. They are not part of us, we have no sway over them and we have nothing to do with it. Ergo, we do nto need to issue statements when they do those things.

One would think, assuming the above is true, that this would be a perfect opportunity, because of the recent meeting with the mayor, for the Haredi leadership (specifically in RBS B, but really in RBS A, the Kirya Haredit, the national Haredi leadership, etc.) to remind everyone that "We, the Haredim, are against violence. Those people who perpetrate such acts of violence against other residents are rejected by us and do not represent the general Haredi public." A simple statement like that would be the minimum, if they refuse to actually try to deal with the problem and get rid of the violence.

One would think.

But one would be wrong, if he so thought.

In an article printed in this week's edition of the local rag "Chadash" entitled "The community that grows from time to time", they miss the opportunity. Instead of rejecting the violence and saying they are not part of us, the article describes how "everyone is afraid of "us". The Haredim. The name "Haredim" seems to strike fear in the minds of someone."

"That someone", the article says, "arranged a meeting to discuss the"community that grows from time to time" who allow themselves to act with violence, physical and verbal, in order to achieve its goals."

The meeting was open to the public, so I have no idea why this magazine did not bother sending a "journalist" to take notes and write about what transpired, but they say they were not there. Not very professional for a magazine that claims to be the voice of the Haredi community of Bet Shemesh, but that is the way it is.

They seem to think that the meeting was against haredim in general, and that "the community that grows from time to time" is the general Haredi community, when the truth is that it is referring to the smaller, more violent group of Haredim. They increase in numbers from time to time, and the meeting was not against haredim in general, but only these kannoim who use violent methods to take control.

But the author writes that he is part of the community that grows from time to time, and we are growing in multitudes with much higher birthrates than the other communities. So such meetings will have no affect on anything (possibly the only thing in the article he got right).

But, he says, we must evaluate whether the meeting was really just against those who are afraid of violence from "the community that grows from time to time" or are they afraid of the fact that Bet Shemesh has such a community in it.

He goes on pontificating about that point for a bit, making it clear that he does not differentiate between those kannoim who have used violence to get their means and the rest of the Haredi public.

The real kicker though is one paragraph in which he says, and I translate this directly form the magazine instead of just paraphrasing or summarizing (because it is so amazing), "Of course, every person has the right to express his opinion, and if a person thinks there is violence, it is his right to express his opinion and respond to it. But before we check who and what, we have tried to recall when there was last a violent act that affected others from other communities, and we really could not recall any." (bold, italics and color for emphasis added by me).

He goes on and on about those who organized the meeting not recognizing "our legitimate rights to stand up for what we deserve", and we will surpass them because of our birthrate and all that.

But it seems that not only have they missed the opportunity to say "we are not them, they are not us, we are not violent and do not approve of their behavior and methods". Rather they claim to be one with them and they even deny any violence has ever occurred. If need be, I can give him the phone number of the latest victim of the violence. I spoke to him on the phone, and I am sure he would be willing to tell the people over at Chadash what happened to him. For journalists, they sure are in the dark! For Haredim, they negate all the claims made in defense of the non-violent majority.


  1. I don't remember the nails... are you sure that's not a figment of your imagination?

    I do remember being delayed driving in an ambulance to the hospital while escorting someone on shabbos when the (non-Jewish) driver had to hop out to clear large stones from the Nahar Yarden so that he could proceed.

  2. it might be my imagination... but while I did not see them on the road myself, someone who drove through showed me one he picked up and said a certain area (the area) had these nails strewn all over. There is a name for these types of nails, but I forget it.
    They are bent into a V because that way no matter which way you go over it, it is almost sure to pop your tire.

  3. They're called caltrops, although Israelis call them ninjot

  4. ninjot. that's right. i could not remember the name. But these were not so technically designed with 2 nails twisted together - these were just one nail bent in a way that was a crooked v so if one side got pressed down, the other side was forced up (into the tire).

  5. Eh... won't work. (at least, not guaranteed).

    Maybe it's good internet is assur :)

  6. Rafi - This is a painful and important subject to discuss. Thank you for having the courage to do so.

    Meanwhile, as we argue with each other and perpetrate violence on each other, suicide bombers are blowing us up.

    It's time to deal with this divisive issue from within so that we can focus on the bigger threat from without. Being "right" doesn't matter much when you're blown to smithereens.

  7. Rafi-

    Another interesting point about that "rag" you mentioned.

    After the Lebanon War they made an issue dedicated to the local irgunim that helped the war refugees.

    One organization was LOUDLY missing. And I say LOUDLY because everyone knows that Lema'an Achai did more than all of the other irgunim put together.

    Maybe someone can tell me why they think LA was left out?

  8. If there was ever a need for "das Torah" of the local "gedolim", one could think that this was it. Their silence is deafening as the usually vocal kupah.

    You'd also think/wish/pray that people who are so quick to put up signs about modesty would include "requests" not to throw stones at Jews, but this is sadly not the case.

    What is clear is that tzniut, which is supposed to raise us up spiritually has for some/many become really nothing more than avoda zara.

    And that my friends is clearly a tragedy no less than the low cut jeans and high cut shirts that some banot yisrael wear (but not often in RBS).

    And as we all know the reward of an aveira is another aveira... and so signs lead to threatening letters, which lead to rioting, beating up other Jews, etc.

    How many more weeks until bein hazmanim??

  9. all the news - true, but I was shocked when this weeks edition had an article about Lmaan Achai..
    I have to see if I still have it so I can see what it was about because it slipped my mind..

  10. fighting anyone in denial is an uphill battle. I hope folks realize this.

  11. I'm sorry, but Miriam is too kind. That bit from Chadash is truly Orwellian. I suggest you all prepare to see your own little Animal Farm occur right under your noses.

    We will be there soon, staying by our regular friends. They tell us they're beginning to think about moving to a more 'normal' place in Israel. Too bad. The Orwellian crowd will drive out all the decent folks if this keeps up.

    Any rabbanim who have not made clear their objection to this criminal activity are failing at their responsibilities!

  12. Rafi -I know this is going to sound crazy, but I am sure there is a purpose to all this. A reason. I am totally NOT condoning it but I think to properly root it out, a cause might help?

    Do you notice that almost all the fighting, violence, etc all seem to be about tzniut. That is like the main topic.

    I have a crazy theory which I tried to develop in my blog, but i'm feeling Mr. Lazy taking over me. lol

    Anyway, the theory is that it all fits. fighting terrorism and the threat to divy up the land - all have to do with the exile of Ishmael (i.e. their brit vs Jewish people's brit)and the who has right to the land.

    Even the brit is connected to tzniut, sexual things, guarding the eye, etc.

    If we are worthy of redemption, then it happens from above downwards,Hashem just gives it; if not, then it happens from downwards arousaling (us praying, fighting, whatever) causing upwards arousaling (Hashem responding)

    Anyway, I'll cut it short -in case i'm not making any sense lol- I think it may be worthwhile if true thinking folks....sorry i'm not saying rabbonim (I want to have faith in them but..)if true thinking and caring folks would come up with a proper way of dealing with tzniut, guarding the brit, etc.

    Right now I think its left in the hands of evil. Like evil is spilling out the good parts that it held, but we gotta know what to do with it. (basically enough defense, where's our offense).

    Am I being too spiritual? Am I making sense?

  13. Regarding the municiple elections... Anglos have been threatening not to vote for Vaknin for last three elections and each time they have overwhelmingly caved in--except for a few fanatics associated with Manhigut Yehudit who refused to be swayed.

    Last time it was the "charedi threat" [really!] and hizzoner's tactic of divide and conquer via an "independent" Anglo party that was set up with his approval.

    Just remember: fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

  14. Many people in the States don't realize that this kind of "Jew on Jew" violence is happening. If you try to tell them, they won't believe it and feel it is loshon horah or motzei shaimra. They refuse to belive that G-d fearing Jews would act in such a way.

    It's sad that folks like you have to endure this hostility and instability on a daily basis. This surely is the time for Das Torah to speak up and direct the community.


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