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Jan 25, 2012

Mashiach Is Not Welcome In RBS B

Natalie Mashiach's Assaulted Car
I had a chance encounter, that is as much as any encounter can be marked as chance, with Natalie Mashiach yesterday, shortly after she was nearly lynched in RBS B. I was in Shlomo Sixt car rental agency in RBS A, when in walks a woman escorted by police. She is crying and worked up. She had just been attacked while working in RBS B hanging signs. The police brought her to Shlomo Sixt, while someone else had stayed behind with the car, because the car belonged to Shlomo Sixt and they were working out the procedures for towing, repairing, evidence and whatever else is involved.

While she was there, she told us, by "us" I mean everyone in the office - me and the clerks who were helping - what had happened. She was emotional and crying.

I did not write about it yesterday because I was so angry that I could not write about it without painting a broad brush and write things I would later regret. After thinking about it for a long time, and being part of many discussions about what happened, I must say that I did not witness the incident itself. I met her shortly after the incident happened, and I heard part of the story from her, but I still know the details mostly from the media like everyone else.

Some have said she was there to provoke. I don't believe it. I spoke with her. She was not dressed provocatively, though she was wearing pants. What was she doing there? Just her presence - she should have known not to go there - well, she told me that she has been hanging up signs all over Bet Shemesh, including in that exact location, for 5 years already! She had absolutely no reason to think that after doing this for so long in that same exact spot that it would suddenly be a problem. You can hear her talk in an interview where she describes how she works with haredim and deals regularly with them and no problem has ever come up before this.

Natalie Mashiach
As well, I find it ridiculous to call her a provocateur. She is a traditional Sefardic woman. She is not a secular atheist who is anti-religious. For the most part, to generalize, the traditional sefardim have more faith than even the most devout religious ashkenazim. This woman, Natalie Mashiach is not, or at least was not, anti-religious.

While some give lip-service to condemnations of violence, they also, at the same time, offer excuses. She was there provoking. Violence of the two sides. If they really condemned the violence they would not be looking for excuses to explain the behavior. Just condemn the violence.

This is not a haredi issue, it is not a dati leumi issue, and it is not a secular issue. This is a Bet Shemesh issue. Bet Shemesh, the people of Bet Shemesh, the elected officials of Bet Shemesh and the police of Bet Shemesh all together, has to solve this problem.

This is also a national problem. While it is happening in Bet Shemesh, it is also happening in Jerusalem. It is also starting to happen in other places, such as Elad and Modiin Ilit, they are fighting in Rehovot about similar issues and it continues to spread.

Locally, all good people of Bet Shemesh need to put an end to this, and nationally it must be dealt with as well, with support and activism at the highest levels. This is not a gang of teenagers, and that 50 people can stand around and watch 6 hooligans attack a defenseless woman and not try to stop it is unacceptable.

I have no idea how close or distant Mashiach's arrival is, but I do know that incidents like what happened yesterday in RBS B show that Mashiach is just not welcome in some places.


  1. What I don't understand is, if they didn't want her to be there, why did they do everything to prevent her leaving?
    I mean, stoning her car, stealing her keys etc, these are going to make it easier for her to get out of there after being told off. No. These hooligans don't care about that. They have no religion, no beliefs, no yirat shamayim, all they do is totally against the Torah, and they should be vomitted out of Beit Shemesh asap.

  2. I don't know why the police don't get training in how to deal with gangs from LAPD or NYPD police (I know the NYPD have a liason here, wouldn't be surprised if the LAPD have one as well). These people should be treated like that plague inner cities in the US. There is just no reason there are areas here in Israel that are considered "lawless".

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Thank you for posting this. As you say, something has to be done soon, as the situation continues to deteriorate into near-anarchy. The questions I would ask:

    1. What would it take to actually stop this kind of violence? Arrests? Rabbinic condemnation? Local marginalization of extremists? Cutting off funding? Other methods?

    2. What levels of intervention are needed? Rabbinic? Community/grassroots? Police? Mayor? MK's/Israeli govt? Others?

    I think we need to look at precedent - what has worked in other places and what hasn't worked. This needs to be done intelligently, without inadvertently adding fuel to the fire and alienating otherwise peaceful/cooperative charedim. We want this to end, and to avoid igniting a wider conflict.

    What experts could we consult with on this?

  5. After thinking about it for a long time, and being part of many discussions about what happened, I must say that I did not witness the incident itself.

    Exactly how long did it take you to realize that you did not witness the incident itself?

  6. i am putting your essay on my blog. I hope you don't mind. This story shocks me much more that the spitting on little girls.

  7. Rafi-BTYA is the shul that created and hosted the RBS Acdus (sic) group. If any Haredi shul in this neighborhood should be doing something, then it is BTYA. The Rav has openly spoken out on many issues before, including Gush Katif, so why why why is his mouth shut now? Can you, as a member, speak to those who run RBS Achdus-don't they have a chiyuv to create achdus beyong cute melave malkas? So so angry at the absolute apathy.

  8. rbs achdus has nothing to do with btya. One of the members of btya is the founder, or one of the founders, but it is his organization and not affiliated with btya. Btya has hosted some of the events, but so have other shuls (I think).

  9. yoni - yes, it took me time to figure it out.. :-)

  10. It's really good that you happened to meet her, and wrote this up, because you can be sure some apologist types will try to claim provocation of some sort. And I agree with Anonymous too. Maybe it won't help anything anyway, but damn, at least it will help the normal people in the neighborhood feel that there's at least one or two rabbis on that side of the divide that feel as outraged as the rest of us. Or maybe we're all wrong again. Maybe her husband should have just given her a chocolate bar and told her...no, I can't finish this sentence - even with sarcasm, it's too disgusting to write it out.

  11. Rafi - I just copied your entire post and put it in as a comment on The Yeshiva World - with attribution, of course. We'll see if it gets cleared by the moderators there. I think it is an appropriate and erudite answer to some of the comments posted there.

  12. Did she mentioned how long it took for the police to show up???

  13. Amazing. Welcome to Haredistan! A person can't even drive her car because that person is a woman. And we complain about the Taliban and the Saudis. Shame!!!

  14. Enough of the FacadeJanuary 25, 2012 7:27 PM

    Anon of 2:50,

    You expect BTYA to do something? They (and other shuls) in RBSA practice their own form of hooliganism in their treatment of Lema'an Achai. They can't collect in shuls, their posters are ripped down and they are bad mouthed by many charedim in the community.

    And yet they have rabbinic supervision and do great things for our community.

    We in RBSA shouldn't "throw stones" against the stone throwing charedim in Bet.

    Our "glass houses" are full of similar hatred and discrimination.

    We should fix our own issues before condemning others.

  15. Wow, Enough, way to bring up non relevant side topics. Congratulations, I didn't see that one coming.

    By the way, not all shuls in RBSA ban Lemaan Achai. But let's not worry about splitting hairs here right?

  16. Rachel,

    Who said "all" shuls? I simply said BTYA (and others)..not all.

    Even one shul (or rabbi) tha bans them is one too many.

    If you can't see how this relates to the topic then you may be a part of the problem.

  17. post this to areivim and watch RZS defend these animals!

  18. Good points. Just one minor quibble:
    You first say, "This is not a haredi issue... This is a Bet Shemesh issue." Then you write, "...it is also happening in Jerusalem. It is also starting to happen in other places... they are fighting in Rehovot about similar issues and it continues to spread."

    If it's happening in other places, it's NOT just a Beit Shemesh issue. And it most definitely IS a chareidi issue, since it is always happening in places where chareidim are spreading, and over issues that bother chareidim, and the actions are being perpetrated by those who identify as chareidi. Yes, it's something that we all have to be concerned with and make efforts to properly deal with, but this absolutely is a problem that is rooted in the chareidi community.

    I understand the desire to not blame an entire community, but avoiding the reality will not help anyone.

  19. Danny - I did not contradict myself. i said it is a bet shemesh problem and it is also a national problem. On a micro level there is a local problem in bet shemesh - and that needs to be dealt with locally as much as possible.

    In addition to that, on a more macro level, there is also a national problem happening. The national problem includes bet shemesh.

  20. Sexually and/or "religiously" motivated street violence and bystander non-intervention is sadly not at all unique to Israel.

    She called when the attack began with "mere" name calling. It escalated after the call. By the time they arrived they'd already slashed her tires and broken the car windows. I don't know how long that took - it doesn't take long for violence to do its work.

    Perhaps the lesson for the police is that one needs to err on the side of caution and respond immediately? Should every name calling incident be turned into a full scale felony in progress police response? If so, where are the police resources? It ends up being a money issue and not just a training issue.

    I think the groups that have struggled with this sort of issue - e.g. anti-bullying, anti-sexual harrassment/rape - have found that the key is bystander intervention training. Bystanders include both the people on the scene, and anyone reachable by mobile, e.g. Natalie's brother. Even for those on the scene it doesn't mean physically fighting an attacker. For example, men could be trained to distract what looks like an impending attack by engaging the thug-to-be in some sort of Torah discussion or a request to help a rav with something or other distraction .

    Perhaps someone should think about designing a program that combines secular field-tested bystander intervention techniques with material from the Torah that explains the reasons and halachot for intervening? Something that would come across as teaching Torah rather than judging the community? That might actually go over better than more police "intrusion" because it gives the community more tools to police itself.

    I put together a list of some international programs to try to deal with street harrassment. They aren't specific to Israel and they defintely aren't culturally specific to the Haredi community, but that doesn't mean they can't be a resource for ideas. Scroll to the bottom of this link: http://jacobsbones.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/extremist-thugs-attack-woman-while-others-stand-by/ .

    I've also been making inquiries but so far haven't found anyone working on this issue in Israel.

    Beth Frank-Backman

  21. I live in the dati-charedi centre of Rehovot, and I am not aware of any communal violence or tension here.

  22. Dov - the other day there were reports of a bunch of tires slashed on cars belonging to haredim. there are complaints about a city-sponsored brochure that blurred faces of women. just examples.

  23. I am absolutely appalled by this story!


    Forget the Rabbis. Bring in the IDF and take out the SICK RICKS once and for all. Roll some heads beat em up like they do to the normal people. Is is about time that the SICK RICKS be teeated like Arab terrorists.
    Send them to IRAN!

  25. I just read this post of yours, through Mother-In-Israel's post which comes into my inbox (yes, Rafi, I know. I am very behind in reading my emails). I have a solution to this problem, decided together with my husband:

    1) Anyone who participated in this horrific attack, and also those who watched, should be responsible for paying for all damages. If necessary, their personal property should be confiscated to raise the money.

    2) If they are receiving any sort of state support, it should be cut off.

    3) They, and those who watched while doing nothing, should be arrested and put on trial (aiding and abetting).

    4) The leaders of the Eda Hareidit should publicly denounce them, and put them in cherem. In other words, they should be excommunicated from their kehila, and from every Jewish kehila: their businesses (if they have any) should be boycotted. They should be shunned, NOT given aliyot, not allowed into yeshivot and shiurim, and all support should be removed from the community.

    5) Women who enter the area should be packing. If attacked, they should retaliate and defend themselves.

    6) I am all for the victim's husbands going to these attackers' homes and beating them with baseball bats (hat tip for this idea, my friend P. in Efrat...)

    7) The mayor of Bet Shemesh should publicly denounce them and state that if they continue in their actions, they will be evicted from the city.


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