haredi women in Beit Shemesh_311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
MK Yisrael Eichler, the chairman of the United Torah Judaism faction in the Knesset, spoke out strongly on Thursday against the “coordinated campaign of the media and secular lobbying groups” designed, in his words, to portray the entire ultra-Orthodox community as intemperate extremists.
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“One crazy guy spits at a girl and it becomes headline news for a week,” he told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, in reference to a Channel 2 program broadcast last week that highlighted the abuse carried out by ultra-Orthodox extremists against national-religious girls on their way to their school, which is located on the border of a haredi neighborhood in Beit Shemesh.
“Despite the fact that every single haredi person interviewed and questioned on this matter has condemned these actions and denounced them, the media continues to take these extremely rare incidents, blow them out of all proportion and use them to show that this characterizes the haredi community.”
Eichler added that the campaign is political and focused on trying to bring down the current government by delegitimizing coalition parties. He said that efforts to depict settlers as violent extremists because of “the actions of those involved in pricetag attacks” was part of the same phenomenon as the delegitimization campaign against the ultra-Orthodox.
Eichler’s sentiments have been widely echoed in haredi media outlets.
In Thursday’s editorial of the haredi daily Hamodia
the newspaper wrote that the spitting incident in Beit Shemesh has
become “a means for casting all haredim as extremists, instead of the
handful of lawbreakers who perpetrated these deplorable acts.”
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“The only thing worse than thugs in haredi garb spitting and throwing
rocks at innocent school girls is a media and politicians that would
exploit such incidents to tar an entire law-abiding public as extremist,
for the sake of advancing a political agenda,” the editorial continued.
The widely read haredi news website Kikar HaShabbat labeled the current
uproar against ultra-Orthodox extremism a “secular intifada” on Thursday
and wrote of “a long list of verbal and physical assaults against
haredim in recent days.”
“The feeling is that the hatred towards the Torah-observant sector has
never been as big,” an editorial read. “As a haredi media outlet, we can
no longer sit on the sidelines and watch the fire of hate that is
spreading. It is time to rip off the mask of hypocrisy of the secular
community and say ‘Until here and no further.’” In response to the
alleged incidents of assault, Kikar HaShabbat said that it has launched a
hotline for haredim attacked by secular people and called on anyone who
was attacked to to phone in and report the incident.
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