The moderate wing of ultra-Orthodoxy has called for the conservative branch to
break its silence and take responsibility for the actions of extremists in the
wake of last week’s rioting in Beit Shemesh.
Haredim stoned several buses
last Wednesday, breaking the windows of one with a hammer, following the arrest
of a couple that earlier had attempted to impose gender segregation by asking a
woman traveler to leave her seat.
Posters stating “Enough Bullying” were
plastered on street corners of the haredi neighborhood of Ramat Beit Shemesh by
activists of the Tov Party, which, going into municipal elections, claims to
represent what are being called “newharedim.”
The signs were, for the
most part, immediately torn down.
“The time has come to say enough,” the
“[The extremists] controlled the public thoroughfares
and we were quiet. They insulted and embarrassed people in buses and we were
quiet.... They brought a bad name to our town and desecrated God’s name, and we
were quiet.... The time has come to stop the bullying and show responsibility
for our city [and] to show responsibility for our community.”
to party activist Eli Friedman, the posters were aimed at political
representatives of the haredi community already serving on the city
“It’s not the job of the rabbis to make pronouncements on this
issue,” he told The Jerusalem Post.
Aryeh Goldhaber, another activist,
said he believed that many ultra-Orthodox people fear speaking out against
“A lot of people are afraid to attack these kinds of people,”
Goldhaber said. “They are very violent and as you can see they are doing
whatever they want, including attacking buses and people.”
he felt that the Beit Shemesh Municipality could do more to prevent outbreaks of
violence, and that it had “all the tools to connect with the rabbis” so as to
come up with strategies.
He also suggested that the municipality initiate
novel solutions, such as ceasing to collect trash where dumpsters have been
burned, and coordinating with Egged to stop bus service in neighborhoods where
company vehicles have come under attack.
The city has to send a message
to extremists that “you have to be responsible for what you are doing,”
The Tov Party recently ran a campaign in Beit Shemesh
aimed at combating incitement against haredi soldiers, called by their
detractors hardakim, a pejorative term that grew out of what might be translated
as “haredi lite” but which was tweaked to invoke the Hebrew word for bacteria
Mati Rosenzweig, spokesman for Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe
Abutbol, told the Post that the municipality planned on “turning to the parties
responsible for [public] order” to combat the extremists.
“If there are
criminals, it is [for] the police and not the municipality,” he
Asked why the municipality had not replied to requests for
information following last week’s riot, Rosenzweig said he had been on vacation
with his family and was not answering the phone.
MK Dov Lipman, a
resident of Beit Shemesh who was active in combating local extremists before
being elected to the Knesset, told the Post he hoped “the broader haredi
community will rise to the occasion and join Tov in this condemnation and in
working to be part of the rest of the nation instead of being against it.”