Eda Haredit to mark 100 weeks of Karta lot protests

Activists will hold demonstration to protest desecration of the Jewish day of rest hoping to attract thousands from the anti-Zionist group.

By JONAH MANDEL
July 15, 2011 05:02
4 minute read.
A haredi protest in Jerusalem

haredi protest 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Marking 100 weeks since the Jerusalem Municipality opened the Karta parking lot near the Jaffa Gate on Shabbat, the Eda Haredit group will hold a demonstration on Saturday to protest the desecration of the Jewish day of rest.

Such rallies have been held regularly for two years, but unlike the average weekend demonstration of a few dozen young men, this week activists hope to draw hundreds or even thousands of members of the anti-Zionist group, due to the announced participation of the head of Rabbi David Kahn, head of the Mea She’arimbased Toldot Aharon hassidic sect.

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Fate would have it that this week’s Torah portion is “Pinchas,” about the high priest famous for turning the wrath of God away from the children of Israel “while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.” (Numbers 25) This motif of religious fanaticism – Pinchas killed two sinners in the midst of their sinful act, bringing an end to a plague that took the lives of 24,000 Israelites – is noted in the ads placed in the Eda Haredit newspaper HaEda, as well as in those plastered around the haredi areas of Jerusalem.

The posters also stress, however, that the demonstration will only be half an hour long, after which all attendants will peacefully disperse, and forbids them to “engage in any acts of violence or throwing things.”

The Eda Haredit will even have officers from its ranks supervising so that things do not get out of hand. And the rally will not take place at the disputed parking lot, rather within Mea She’arim, with a march leaving the Eda Haredit headquarters at the Zupnick lot, and proceeding to Rehov Hanevi’im.

The editorial of HaEda that expounds upon the significance of 100 weeks of demonstrations as proof of the group’s determination, also takes the ultra-Orthodox councilmen to task for “telling [the evil Mayor Nir Barkat],” who seeks to turn Jerusalem into Tel Aviv, that he could open the parking lot, explaining to Barkat that “it won’t be long and the voices of protest will subside and end. They thought all haredim were like them and got used to wrongdoings in return for satisfying their avarice and yearn for jobs of deputy mayors and chairmen,” the Eda Haredit wrote of the United Torah Judaism representatives at city hall.

“Such events just serve the interests of the extremists on both sides,” Rabbi Shmuel Pappenheim of the Eda Haredit said of the large demonstration planned.

Speaking with The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, Pappenheim, who in the past was editor- in-chief of HaEda, noted such elements from both within the Eda Haredit – such as Yoelish Krois, its unofficial “operations officer” who openly declares his desire to see secular Jews leave the city and is a lively force in the weekly demonstrations – and from the secular end, such as the Be Free Israel group, that has in recent weeks demonstrated at nearby Rehov Hanevi’im to ensure it remains open on Shabbat.

Last week, secular protesters arrived in clown garb. They say police are not doing enough to ensure the freedom of passage on that route from haredi blockage and stones. It is the last main artery open in the area now that Jaffa Road has been closed in favor of the light rail due to start operations on August 19.

This Saturday’s ultra-Orthodox demonstration will be held on Rehov Hanevi’im due to the presence of summertime tourists in immodest dress near the Karta garage, Pappenheim said. To expose the young Eda Haredit men to such spectacles would be counterproductive, he said.

As for the demonstration at whole, “We don’t want to appear as Yoelish Krois people. On the other hand, if the head of the Eda Haredit Rabbinic Court, Rabbi Tuvia Weiss, tells us to go and demonstrate, we do,” he said.

Krois was arrested on Wednesday morning on charges of tax evasion, and he is under house arrest in Bnei Brak. Police deny any connection between the planned weekend protest and his detention, which was over a 10-year alleged misdemeanor involving Krois’s fowl slaughterhouse.

Pappenheim said it was Weiss who decided to keep the weekly demonstrations going, but apparently the initiative of Kahn to have a larger one this weekend, and now the Toldot Aharon leadership is anxious to ensure that the event will pass peacefully and they won’t be held accountable for any escalation that increases Shabbat desecration.

Pappenheim laughed away the theory according to which the Eda Haredit intensifies its demonstrations against the secular elements of the city and the state in the summer, since that is when members of the Israeli hassidic sects make the trip to the United States to raise money from wealthy members of the groups for the next year, and photos of haredim confronting police over the sanctity of Shabbat help open wealthy Jewish anti- Zionist pockets.

“All kinds of academics try to find reasons and make theories to explain things,” he said.

“But the truth of the matter is that most of our money-raising trips take place in the winter. Nobody is in New York now, it's vacation time,” he said. “They’re all in the Catskills.”


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