Aug 29, 2011

The Use Of Violence To Achieve One's Ends

A Guest Post On OROT by Baruch Gitlin

First, I think you deserve a lot of credit for using your blog to inform readers of local developments and to open it up for community discussion.

Regarding the Nofei Aviv/Gan Sulam issue, whatever the motovations were for opposing the school, it seems that the residents went through the legal process, and I have heard no suggestion that any threats or intimidation have been used now that the mayor has ruled against them.

I have read articles in the past by Jonathan Rosenblum and others that complain bitterly when communities such as Rechovot and Petach Tikvah have tried to prevent haredi institutions from opening. It would be nice to see condemnations in this instance as well.

The point here goes beyond who's right and wrong on the facts, or who promised what to whom. The point is the use of violence and intimidation to achieve one's ends. What's happening here has parallels in many haredi communities, and provides a strong justification for the reluctance of many non-haredi communities to see haredi communities grow up in their neighborhoods. Even if 90% of most haredi communities us made up of decent and law abiding individuals (which I believe to be the case), there often seems to be a minority of thugs that wish to keep non-haredi, or even haredi elements that do not conform to their idea of frumkeit out of their neighborhood. As a former, long-time (9 years) resident of Beitar Ilit, I can report that this was and possibly still is done with semi-official sanction through the so-called Vaad HaIchlus, which took it upon itself to determine who could or could not move into the city. I am also aware of cases in which vandalism was used against people who were deemed by some to be unsuitable as residents - and I'm talking about good, decent people, people who most people reading this would probably consider excellent neighbors. I am also aware of, and occasionally witnessed, intimidation used in the contact of elections, and a petition to require segregation of the buses in Beitar - not the topic here, but indicative of a willingness to use violence in support of alleged frumkeit. One thing I never saw or heard of, with one significant but limited exception, was rabbaim speaking out against this phenomenon.

That is why it is important to oppose such violence here in Beit Shemesh. If OROT loses because of legal considerations, that is one thing, but to lose the school because of the threat of violence should be intolerable to all of us. I think that haredi journalists and rabbis can play an important role here by standing up and speaking, firmly, against intimidation. Surely the haredi establishment knows how to do this - leading rabbis have proven that with their strong condemnations of books that do not accord with their hashcafas. One would hope that violence and the threat of violence could elicit at least as strong a condemnation as science and history are sometimes able to do.

If they do not do so, I think they forfeit any standing to complain when the shoe is on the other foot - and incidently, I have never heard of any dati leumi community, or its members, threatening or trying to intimdate haredim into leaving a neighborhood, so I do not mean to imply that there is a parallel between this situation and the situation, for example, that Jonathan Rosenblum described a few years ago in Rechovot.


  1. Excellent points and I would love to see hareidim condemn the threat of violence against others. According to the parents, the letter from the mayor state that threats were issued against himself and the girls! How is this EVER ok? to threaten children? Not normal. Not Torah

  2. I wonder which Torah the extremists practice? Certainly not Love your neighbour!! I just saw in Yediot Acharanot, that one interviewed said, that he educates his sons to keep their eyes, so they would not see girls like those. We are talking about girls under Batmitzvah, in a Torani religious school, who are being called sluts. Again I ask, what Torah do they practice? And with all the evil thoughts in their minds, I think the police should round them up as potential child molesters even in their own communitities.


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