“The government wants to uproot and secularize us,” Rabbi David Zycherman said, according to Reuters, “They call it a melting pot, but people cannot be melted.”
So who were the 30 thousand plus at the rally in front of the recruiting office Thursday?
“They can be divided into three groups,” Gelis explains. “One group are the faithful of the Edah Haharedit—the rabbis say they should go protest a government decree—bang, they’re out there.” Another group are not necessarily identified with the protest, but they’re curious to hear what the speakers have to say—”That’s the Jerusalemite group,” he says. “And finally, another third are folks who would show up at any rally—tomorrow you’ll protest the price of tomatoes, or unheated water in the mikvah—they’ll be there.”
About a dozen were arrested after protesters hurled bottles and stones at police, who used stun grenades. A water cannon was also deployed when protesters set a garbage bin on fire. At least six officers required medical treatment.
But the discourse inside the Haredi community is almost entirely free from the kind of violent language that’s being emphasized by the media, says Israel Gelis, who has completed his IDF service, works for various secular media outlets and occasionally attends morning prayers with a Satmar minyan in Jerusalem.