At least two abusive attacks against ultra- Orthodox children were reported to
the police this week According to a report from the haredi news website Kikar
Hashabbat, on Tuesday morning an 11-year old boy, referred to as David L., was
physically assaulted by two secular men.
While waiting at a bus stop in
the ultra- Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood of Sanhedria, David was approached by
two men he described as “big, and without yarmulkes or pe’ot
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According to the boy’s mother, Malka, the men began
shouting at him, and struck him in the face several times. They also tried to
prevent him from getting on his bus. He eventually succeeded in boarding by
sticking close to a group of people also getting on the bus.
police spokesman Shmuel Ben- Ruby said the boy and his mother came to a police
station and filed a complaint later that day. The police opened an
On Monday, an 11-year-old girl told police that she was
attacked on a bus by a secular man. The girl said the man spit at her, shoved
her and shouted, “Haredim are cursed,” and that they should not travel on buses
any more. Police opened an investigation.
On Sunday, Kikar Hashabat
launched an e-mail hotline for members of the ultra- Orthodox community to
report any violence or verbal assault against them. Since the hotline was
established, the website has reported on numerous alleged attacks against
Ben-Ruby said he did not believe that the two similar incidents
were the beginning of a strong backlash against the ultra-
“We’re investigating a few incidents, I don’t know if it’s a
wave, but we are investigating them,” he said.
An editorial on the Kikar
website last month said it would open the hotline in light of “media
incitement” against the haredi public and because “as a haredi media outlet, we
can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch the fire of hate that is
The ultra-Orthodox world has come under criticism in recent
weeks over a series of incidents involving perceived discrimination against
women, as well as extremist agitation against the Orot Banot national-religious
girl’s school in Beit Shemesh.
The Yisrael Hofshit religious freedom
activist group, which has campaigned to bring the issue of discrimination
against women to public attention and was one of the main organizers of last
week’s protest in Beit Shemesh, issued a statement on Facebook on Tuesday
condemning “all forms of violence and verbal abuse against the ultra-Orthodox
“There is no place [to attack] the haredi sector as a whole,”
the statement read. “In every community and society there is good and bad,
moderates and extremists. Our obligation as citizens of the state is to oppose
extremism, violence and religious coercion, and to preserve the values of
freedom and equality in the State of Israel.
Yisrael Hofshit director
Mickey Gitzin told The Jerusalem Post that the organization was nevertheless
persevering with its campaign to ensure that the government and police acted
against discrimination towards women.
“It’s not about us and them, we’re
not working for any particular sector, we want the law to be enforced,” he said,
adding that many complaints he received regarding discrimination against women
come from ultra-Orthodox men and women.
In a conversation with the Post
last week, MK Yisrael Eichler, chairman of the United Torah Judaism faction in
the Knesset, rejected claims that the ultra-Orthodox world was becoming more
“There is no radicalization in the haredi sector,” he said.
“What’s happening is that there is radicalization in the secular world against
our community, and it’s simply got worse in recent years.”
denied that there was widespread coercion of women to sit at the back of buses,
saying that haredi men and women voluntarily segregated themselves.
MK cited a study, presented last week to the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee
on which he serves, in which 1,150 checks were carried out in 2011 by inspectors
from the Transportation Ministry on 55 bus lines that had been flagged as
The inspections were carried out according to a High
Court of Justice directive in which the male or female inspector sat in the
“wrong” section of the bus.
In 56 instances, the inspector was asked to
move to the “appropriate” section, and in 15 cases the inspector complied with
the request due to concern that a physical confrontation might have
Eichler said that these numbers contradicted claims that coercive
gender segregation on public buses was widespread.