A bookstore in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea She’arim, which has been
struggling with violence from a mafia-style “Purity Committee” that objects to
their English and Zionist books, was attacked once again early on Wednesday
Marlene Samuels, the manager of Or Hachaim/Manny’s Bookstore,
found the outer windows of the shop smashed for the fifth time since the store’s
opening in March 2010, and the second time in less than a week.
Mea She’arim ‘mafia’ harasses, vandalizes businesses
from the fringe anti-Zionist Sikrikim group have also glued its locks shut,
thrown tar and fish oil at it and dumped bags of human excrement inside the
Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said the police had
received a complaint and opened an investigation.
He added that the
police are using intelligence gathered from a wide range of sources to try to
stop the violence against the store.
The harassment of the bookstore
stems from the bookstore’s refusal to accept demands made by the Sikrikim, a
group of 60-100 extremists in Mea She’arim which demands all businesses observe
specific “modesty standards.”
At Or Hachaim, the Sikrikim’s demands
include putting up a sign asking customers to dress modestly and removing all
English-language and Zionist books. Two weeks ago, owners of the store met with
Sikrikim representatives to try to stop the violence, but no solution was
“Their list is too long, they want every English book out, they
want the store, that’s the bottom line,” said Samuels.
enough for them, and we can’t take out the English books, we won’t have a
She complained that the police have not helped them try to
find the culprits, despite security camera footage that clearly shows the men
breaking the windows.
Samuels said they had considered putting up steel
shutters on the building to protect the glass, but she worried the Sikrikim
would find a way to destroy that as well.
“The only thing left to do is
beat these people up,” a frustrated Samuels said on Wednesday, the second time
in less than two weeks that all of the store’s outer windows have been broken.
“Just find these people and beat them to a pulp. They’re cowards and only
violence will quiet them down.”
Samuels said that other store owners
suffering from similar abuse had hired vigilantes to stop the violence and been
successful, though she doubted that the owners of Or Hachaim/Manny’s would do
Many of the other stores in the neighborhood have acquiesced to the
Sikrikim’s demands, though they complain of the “mafia-like” control the small
group of extremists wield over the area.