Court to rule on Emmanuel moms

Arbitration attempt fails; UTJ decries 'attack' on haredim.

By JONAH MANDEL, GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
June 22, 2010 00:44
Meir Porush

Porush 311. (photo credit: Benjamin Spier)

Hopes that an arbitration agreement drawn up by a private rabbinical court would be a road map to the end of the Emmanuel affair were again shattered on Monday, as the three-member Jerusalem Beit Din canceled a hearing, planned for that day, to be attended by litigant Yoav Laloum and representatives of the Emmanuel parents.

As in each of the many incidents in which mediation floundered, each side blamed the other. The beit din issued an announcement that since Laloum had failed to withdraw his court petition shortly after the arbitration, the beit din’s original decision to unify the separate tracks at the school had been nullified. However, according to Laloum – who, with his Noar Kahalacha NGO, had filed the original petition against segregation in the Beit Ya’acov school – the Slonim Hassidim from Emmanuel refused to accept the arbitration bill, and therefore he would not withdraw the petition.

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The High Court will conduct a discussion on Tuesday regarding whether to enforce the imprisonment orders it issued to 22 mothers of girls from Emmanuel, who did not show up for their two-week prison term on Thursday. Some 35 fathers are currently behind bars. The Welfare and Social Services Ministry has recommended that the court waive its order to incarcerate the mothers, most of whom have many children.

Porush denies racism in Ashkenazi haredi society

Meanwhile, in United Torah Judaism’s weekly faction meeting – which took place Monday afternoon in a small tent that Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush set up in the Ma’asiyahu Prison parking lot – the Ashkenazi haredi politicians reiterated what they perceived as the injustice in imprisoning the Emmanuel fathers for their educational beliefs, while repeatedly challenging the notion that Ashkenazi haredi society was afflicted by racism.

The speakers did not mention that the High Court ruling to imprison the parents had come in response to the contempt the latter group had shown the court in refusing to return their daughters to school, and was not due to racism they professed or expressed.

In a relatively statesmanlike address, Porush stressed that the Independent Education Center had followed the court’s ruling, undone the separation at the Beit Ya’acov school and ordered parents to return their daughters to class. He noted that the Education Ministry’s stance on the affair had been that the separation was not racially motivated, and demanded the right “to educate our children according to our beliefs, as David Ben-Gurion promised” previous haredi politicians.

“I don’t want to raise any analogies to the painful images of children being separated from their parents,” UTJ faction chairman Menahem Eliezer Moses said, “but Thursday brought to mind Bolshevik Russia, where parents were sent to prison and their orphaned children were sent to be reeducated in state institutions.”

UTJ MK Moshe Gafni slammed Israel’s political leadership for remaining silent in face of the “month and a half of attacks on the haredim,” and charged that racism existed in Israel – but in secular strongholds, such as the Supreme Court, academia and the State Attorney’s Office.

It was even to found in the list of recipients of the Israel Prize, where there is a disproportionate Ashkenazi presence, he said. He also spoke out against the “hypocrites” who were active in preventing the deportation of foreign workers’ children but remained silent as the Emmanuel children saw their fathers taken away for a fortnight of incarceration.

“Who opened their mouths? So what if we’re haredim, we are also human,” Gafni said.

Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman stressed that haredi politicians would continue to speak their minds against the court’s ruling as they saw fit.

He added that the faction might decide to vote against the government in a no-confidence vote later that day. In the end, his faction simply boycotted it.

Yishai against appealing to a secular tribunal

At that day’s Shas faction meeting in the Knesset, chairman Eli Yishai furthered the party line that the way to battle Ashkenazi discrimination was by promoting the Sephardi alternative, and in no terms should involve appealing to a secular tribunal.

“Many wanted me to use the discrimination for a campaign. The same people who wanted me to do that, when I complained about [Kadima leader] Tzipi Livni, accused me of letting the ‘ethnic genie’ out of the bottle,” he said, speaking next to the principal of Emmanuel’s Maayan Hinuch Torani school, who had expressed his gratitude to Shas.

“The real answer is getting things done – it’s opening institutions, and that’s what we did,” Yishai continued, in reference to the Emmanuel school that was established after the issue of segregated tracks in the Beit Ya’acov surfaced.

“There’s an adjudication of [Rabbi Ovadia Yosef] that we don’t appeal to the High Court of Justice.

We solve things with dialogue. Going to the court resulted in people going to jail. We formed a great school.”

Yishai stressed that “we are dealing with discrimination in darchei noam [peaceful ways].

The real solution is forming more institutions.

People ask what Shas does. That’s what Shas does. I am not interested in war or bloodshed. I am interested in finding a solution. I recommend ahavat hinam [unconditional love], not sinat hinam [baseless hatred].”

Yishai also addressed the recent poll by Mina Tzemach, published by Yediot Aharonot, which showed that an overwhelming majority of the public thought Shas’s decision to remain silent on the affair – which the party mostly did until Wednesday – was a mistake.

“I’m not worried,” Yishai said. “Polls about Shas are always wrong.”

Later that day, Yishai also told Channel 1 he was not concerned at the possibility of the emergence of an alternative haredi Sephardi party led by a figure such as former Shas chairman Aryeh Deri, who recently became vocal in trying to help solve the Emmanuel crisis.

“Any [haredi Sephardi] party that does not have the backing of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has no chance of passing the election threshold,” Yishai said.


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