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September 1, 2014 / 6 Elul, 5774
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Whose Fault Was the Haredi Attack Anyway?

I am not angry at the dogs who attacked a Charedi soldier. But I am upset at the Rabbinic leadership who have thus far remained silent.

Meah Shearim Attack

You know what? I’m not even angry at the extremists that physically attacked a Charedi soldier in Meah Shearim yesterday. It’s hard to be angry at people so brainwashed.

Is a pit bull at fault for attacking a human being? Or is it his trainer who conditioned it to do so? Animals have no ability to think rational thoughts. They act on instinct. Or in the Pavlovian ways in which they were conditioned to act. We have only one way to protect ourselves from these kinds of wild animals. If they are going to be anywhere near civilization, they have to be put in cages, like zoo animals.

Calling for punishment as many have done is useless. Because they are never punished. Their community protects them. The extremist rabbis of organizations like the Eida HaCharedis  or communities like Toldos Aharon consider turning in one of their own to the police (read: Nazis) – Mesirah.  A crime punishable by death! So even as even they might pay lip service in condemning such acts, they do zero, nada, NOTHING! …to stop them.

Instead they do everything they can to keep them out of jail. And even when they condemn them, they do so with a huge ‘but’! …sympathizing with their zeal and agreeing with their motives. Mentioning this caveat is even true of non extremist Charedi rabbinic leadership.

There were however quick condemnations from across the board in Israel. From the prime minister; from a Charedi politician (Shas leader Rabbi Aryeh Deri); from Yesh Atid’s leader, Yair Lapid; and even  from Nachal Charedi rabbis: From Ynet:

Nahal Haredi rabbis condemned the attack, saying it was “an act of hatred that is un-Jewish and un-Orthodox”, “blasphemy” and “shame and disgrace”.

Let me add my own condemnation:  Ready? Here goes: I condemn thee! There. That should stop them!

I am not angry at the dogs who attacked a Charedi soldier. But I am upset at the Rabbinic leadership who have thus far remained silent. I have not heard a single rabbinic leader say a word about what happened in Meah Shearim yesterday. Just so that people will know exactly what I am talking about, here is the Ynet description of events:

A haredi soldier was attacked by dozens of haredim in Jerusalem‘s ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood. The soldier ran into a nearby building and called in police forces, which managed to rescue him unharmed.

The haredim on site were throwing stones at the forces trying to disperse the crowds, and four rioters were arrested for disturbing the peace.

Police said that the soldier, a resident of central Israel, arrived in the Mea Shearim neighborhood to visit relatives. When he was attacked, he fled to a nearby structure, where he changed into civilian attire and contacted police to report the assault.

 After clashes subsided, haredim gathered in the area, crying out against haredi soldiers and calling police ‘Nazis.’

Even if Charedi rabbinic leaders do end up voicing their condemnation, it won’t help. Animals cannot communicate verbally.

They must do more than condemn. Short of building cages for them with their bare hands (something I would be happy to help them with), they have to stop the hateful rhetoric that these animals instinctively feel which generates this kind of Pavlovian response we have all become so ‘fond’ of.They have to act! They need to do something drastic to show that their condemnations (should they ever come forth) are more than mere words. Like going out on the field during one of these confrontations and standing with the soldier. Even at their elderly ages.

Or here’s another idea. Let them organize a protest against these people. Mainstream Charedi rabbis are pretty good at calling for protests. When a Charedi rabbinic leader calls for a protest – tens of thousands of Charedim come out. Let speaker after speaker insist that these animals be put in jail… and that reporting them to the police is a Mitzvah – not Mesirah! Let these animals and their extremist rabbinic leaders see exactly who they are up against. That may not stop them. But at least it will give them food for thought.

Condemnations are mere words. They have to act! That is the mark of true leadership. Merely saying, ‘I condemn thee’ – no matter how loud and how strong – means absolutely nothing!

About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.


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5 Responses to “Whose Fault Was the Haredi Attack Anyway?”

  1. Heshy Rosenwasser says:

    When I was serving in the IDF in the 1980s, a pack of dogs (i.e. canines) approached me as I waited to hitch a ride. I unlocked the safety on my weapon and I was ready to open fire, but something unseen distracted them and they ran in a different direction. If a pack of dogs like the ones you described would attack me, I would react the same way. In attacking an IDF soldier, they cross a line and side with our enemies, and deserve to be treated as such. At the same time, it greatly pains me to say this, because what has become of our people that would make me need to react like this.

  2. May I ask that you kindly publish my updated version of this post instead of this earlier version of it? I regret my comparsions of human beings to animals.

  3. David Blatt says:

    "These mad dogs must be shot."-Andrei Vyshinski, 1938

  4. Ch Hoffman says:

    it's a bit of rhetorical overkill.
    these were people, not dogs.
    they did what they did out of malice (which a dog doesn't have), hatred (which a dog can't have).
    they should be punished as people.
    and because they were "haredi", their leaders themselves could punish them.

    cherem – or shunning.
    within a religious community, if these people are still accepted in the shuls, in the beit medrash, etc. then it's their leaders who should also be held in contempt.

  5. Myriam Obadia says:

    Those who attacked the soldier weren't dogs. They were men. Of course the Rabbis who lead them bear a large part of responsibility, but it doesn't remove the guilt from the men who acted. each of us is responsible for his/her actions. I say charge the Rabbi for the crimes they committed: Hate speech and crime abetting, but don't let off the hook the men who deliberately carried out the Rabbis' tacit order: they committed assault and battery and should also face a court of law.

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Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
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