The previously discussed tension between Orthodox Jews and the Israeli government has reached a flash point with violent clashes in the town of Beit Shemesh near Jerusalem. Reporters have been attacked by Orthodox Jews in filming the town.
A protest is planned by secularists and others to protest the harassment of an eight-year-old American girl who said she was afraid to walk to school because Orthodox men would yell at her and spit on her for not being sufficiently modest in her dress.
While it is encouraging to see the counter-movement against these extremist elements, much of the problem rests with the refusal of Israel to impose a separation of Temple and State. For example, a reporter was attacked this week for filming a sign telling women to cross a road so that they did not walk in front of a synagogue. Other signs instruct women to wear long sleeves, calf-length skirts, and other modest clothes. Such signs can only be posted with the knowledge and consent of the government. It should surprise no one that, with such encouragement, extremists proceed to harass and attack women who do not comply.
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29 thoughts on “Orthodox Jews Clashes With Police Over Segregation of Women”
Your post at 12:48 says a lot in the article. Thanks for the insight. They are true misogynist…which is as wrong as any group or person basing a certain attitude on gender or race…You have enlightened me again…
From film: “Women who walk in the street are a stumbling block for men…”
I’ve heard that and its variations before. Blame the victim is what it boils down to. Does a lack of of personal control come with the fundamentalist mind or does it come as a benefit?
I’m with Oro Lee on this one.
Although it would seem logical to think it, I’m not at all apologetic about Cultists such as these. I’m proudly Jewish, but I represent only myself and not the Jewish community. Part of the reticence Jews have had in the past as a minority everywhere is that they “thought” themselves as carrying the “burden” of being Jewish and so were hesitant to criticize fellow members of the tribe so to speak, for fear we would all be stigmatized. There also is a phenomenon know as the “self-abnegating” Jew, who probably became disaffected against Judaism at an early age, because of early negative experiences. I’m in neither category. I celebrate and am greatly comforted by my Jewishness. What the Shoah should have taught Jews is to understand, never forgetting how they have been victimized, but to never again play the victim. At least that’s how I look at it.
@puzzling, thank you, what a chilling and tragic video.
Mike – no need to apologize, every religion in the world has it lunatic fringe group. They need to be pointed out but can only be countered from within. Its not a reflection on the religion but on the people who espouse the fringe.
Interesting comments, Mike.
I found a more detailed segment that includes discussion with those who justify these actions.
Mike, Make of it what you will, I found it at a forum without verification, it seems bizarre and not likely to succeed scientifically, but likely to be considered as an option at our Pentagon, but who knows if it’s true or a product of a USC film student.
It seemed timely to this discussion.
I found it at FARK in the video tab, and in the discussion it was linked it to this site: http://funvax.wordpress.com/ (Fundamentalism Vaccines == funvax) Most people a similar reaction, “Yeah, that seems totally legit”, but doesn’t that just *prove* it?
Thank you for the video. I must admit that I could only watch it halfway through because it made me too angry. It angers me because the little girl and her mother are Orthodox. To me their practice is every bit as pious as their attackers, except that their attackers live and think in a cult-like way. The “Haredi”, “Chasids” or “Ultra’s”, however they are termed do not represent normative Judaism, except in their own minds. All Chasids by the way are not like that.
The Lubavitcher Chasids, perhaps the largest group are very accepting of those who don’t believe as they do and do much reaching out to fellow Jews. Most other Chasids are extremely insular and in fact death threats against the Lubavitcher Rebbe Schneerson were made by another sect the Satmer, to the extent that a police car had to be stationed in front of 770 Eastern Parkway Brooklyn, the Lubavitcher World Headquarters. I was familiar with them because I worked diagonally across the street from them in a City Social Service Office. I was also the liaison from that office to the Lubavitcher’s. While they are not my cup of tea, they are admirable in their
no-judgmental approach. However, I don’t know how that works within the community.
I’m adding so much detail here because non-Jews generally don’t understand the complex workings of the Jewish Community, nor do they understand the Jewish mindset. While this can be said of those outside any particular group, to me context is everything. Since there are relatively few Jews in the world, information about them is not as well disseminated. All Muslims appear tainted because of the fanatics among them, all Christians too are tainted because of their own particular fanatics and in neither case are the actions of the Fundamentalist Fanatics, truly representational of either Islam or Christianity.
Fundamentalism itself isn’t necessarily evil either. Where it goes off the rails is in cases such as this, where Fundamentalists try to impose their views on the population at large and use a similar excuse to the first man in the car in the video. They see someone acting in terms of their own beliefs as threatening to them and feel justified in trying to stop it. Their skewed view turns the tables on reality and makes themselves the victim. This type of crazy thinking is typical of cultism and alarms me wherever I see it.
Mike…..Don’t the minorities have super-majority power in Israel…
“Don’t the minorities have super-majority power in Israel…”
They are influential because of the parliamentary setup and the fact of their bloc-voting. In many instances in a democratic system small minorities gain some power via an adherence to the dictates of their leaders. However, to me it is only in cult-like situations where that adherence is very close to 100%. If you can get more than 95% of your membership to vote a certain way, then you can exert power. In our systems the power is not as great because of the constitutional set up, but under a parliamentary system it is a different matter.
Where is your source for this video. I’m not questioning your veracity, but it is so scary that it almost seems a deadpan ironic commentary. If this is the type of stuff that gets discussed in government circles and is available for public consumption, what the is cloaked under wraps of Top Secret?
This article has a take on this issue that I agree with:
On the flip side, here’s a video for a scary Tuesday morning,
Blouise I agree. Bring the men to the law/judge. I am a Bat Levite who happens to be Irish/French Catholic. I am trying to be of service to humanity now that I have discovered my priestly Jewish roots. From the pharohs daughter to the high kings of Ireland. I’ve always known I was not like others. I want to help these young women. Now that my fathers DNA was tested (tribe Levi) it explains my righteous beliefs my whole life, twas in my DNA. What these extremists are doing is not righteous. Fairness has always been with me, a woman. A man once told me after he cut my pay that life was not fair, I said onto him… no, people are not fair! Trust in Jesus and the teachings. What is right is to love. I am proud to call him son of G-d.
Attacking an 8 year old girl with spit … these guys are bullies and should be treated as such by the rest of the adults within their community and country.
This is also a form of sexual harassment and I know that back in 1998 the Israeli Sexual Harassment Law was passed and interprets sexual harassment broadly, and prohibits the behavior as a discriminatory practice, a restriction of liberty, an offence to human dignity, a violation of every person’s right to elementary respect, and an infringement of the right to privacy.
Charge these men under that law, bring them to trial, convict them, and then designate them as sexual predators … of children.
A Jew [actually, almost any religion will work] was marooned for several years on an uninhabited island. Fortunately it had the resources to make life comfortable.
When rescued, he showed the landing party his improvements.
“On the mountain by the lookout tower is my summer home. In the shelter of the cove is my winter home. Across the bridge is the sauna and shower facilities. And this is the synagogue in which I worship.”
A rescuer noted a similar building a short distance away.
“That is the synagogue in which I will never step foot!”
I am not sure it is a separation of church and state at fault here, though of course, Israel should have that.
As Mike suggests, the power of these jackasses comes as a result of Israel having a system where power comes from the necessity of coalitions, thus allowing the tail to wag the dog. Similarly perhaps to Justice Kennedy’s power on the Supreme Court.
At any rate, is there a dime’s bit of difference between the outrageous fundamentalists and the outrageous behavior fundamentalists of any religion? Would individuals that spit on an 8 year old hesitate to commit other atrocities?
It’s all a bunch of Shirit.
Israel — fast becoming another AlsoRanistan (kudos to GH for the name)
The Ultra-Orthodox in this story represent a minority of a minority of a minority. I write that not in explanation, but in condemnation. My anger, as a Jew, comes from the fact that this Ultra-minority has gotten away with far too much, in Israel and among the Jewish Community worldwide. Though this “Ultra” faction considers themselves to represent normative Judaism, they in fact represent Jewish cultism.
The reasons for their power in Israel are understandable, since they vote in cult-like blocs, dictated by their Rabbinic leaders. Even routine understanding of the mathematics of electoral politics shows that a bloc-vote, even by a group with a small percentage of the total population, gives that group political power to be courted by electoral hopefuls. In the case of Israel’s parliamentary system, two very tiny “Ultra” parties have helped cement the coalition that brought Netanyahu to power.
What gives these groups cachet in Judaism itself is a different matter. Christianity generally believes that heavenly redemption can be achieved by truly accepting Jesus and regretting ones sins. It is focused upon heavenly redemption. Judaism in not focused on an afterlife to any great degree. The belief entails loving/fearing God as ultimate perfection and demonstrating ones faithfulness through adhering to God’s Commandments (613 rather than the well-known 10) as detailed in the Torah. It therefore is something you can call a “performance-based” religion, where one is judged in the Jewish community by their faithfulness to the Torah’s commandments, in the daily practice of their life. There are too many complexities involved in detailing how this faithfulness translates into every action of daily life, but suffice it to say that this is laid out in ways generally agreed upon throughout the Jewish community.
This is where the “Ultra Cult” becomes problematic for Jews in general. The “Ultra Jews” no doubt adhere to “every jot and tittle” of the Torah and the huge Jewish works that define its’ translation into the rules of daily usage. From the perspective of many religiously faithful Jews they exemplify adherence to the Torah. This exemplary adherence gives them a degree of cachet among the “less observant”, yet totally faithful Jews. They may not agree with the “Ultra” practices and those learned among them can certainly cite chapter and verse why the “Ultra’s” practice is excessive, yet there remains a rough admiration of those who so willingly bear the “Yoke” of God’s commandments to such an excessive degree. This grudging admiration makes criticism of the “Ultra’s” somewhat difficult. Add that to the fact that in normative Judaism harsh criticism of anyone who is faithful is frowned upon and in my experience “truly observant Jews” (from of course my individual perspective) are fairly consistent in there reluctance to level harsh criticism of others, Jewish or not.
My personal feelings on this matter and the actions of the “Ultra” community in Israel, is that their behavior is outrageous and that for too long the “Ultra” tail has wagged the dog among the Jewish faithful. To be honest though, even though I am proudly Jewish, most religious Jews throughout the spectrum of Jewish belief would not consider me to be particularly knowledgeable in Judaism, nor faithful in practice and it is true that financially I’ve never been able to afford to even go to Israel. This doubt of my ability to speak with authority on Judaism would be true even among my own family today, many of whom are deeply observant Jews.
Some of that critique of me has merit. My ability to read Hebrew is barely adequate and I have not engaged in extensive study of the Torah. However, I grew up within a large family on both sides, many of whom were Orthodox in belief and practice. I’ve read extensively about religion and I’ve been trained to try to understand human psychology.
While raising my children I regularly attended weekly Synagogue services and at home we celebrated the rhythm of the Jewish Holiday celebrations throughout the year. My children graduated from Hebrew Schools, were Bat Mitzvah’ed and went to Jewish camps. When you proudly come from a religion and ethnicity with a 3,000 year heritage, as I do, I believe that there is a responsibility to expose ones children to the beliefs and traditions from which they spring, then as they grow accepting their now
informed decisions to believe as they choose.
With those caveats, I believe my observations regarding the Ultra-Orthodox are valid. I believe they represent a danger to Israel and to
normative Judaism, in that they are cults of religious fundamentalism. In that sense I consider them in the same spectrum as fundamentalists in Christianity and Islam, whose fanaticism and hatred of modernity represents a danger to us all. I believe that people should have the right to practice their religious beliefs, however, when practicing ones religious beliefs entails forcing others to respect their Fundamentalist beliefs, as a token of respect, I think they cross a dangerous line and should be chastised for their behavior.
While in NYC a while back I read a story about a group of ultra Jews who has successfully blocked a bike route through their neighborhood over objections about the lack of modesty in the bikers outfits. The story indicated that there had been violence involved but did not detail what had happened. It did however make it clear that the city was caving to a religious minority against the interests of the secular community.
American Girl Target of Extremist Jews in Israel
http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/israels-other-demographic-time-bomb-6251 Israel’s ultra orthodox with their much higher birth rate are projected to make up 30% of Israel’s population by 2058.
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