'Expel the Zionists from the Land of Israel'

"This is the only way to get the municipality's attention," Mea She'arim resident says of riots.

Haredim riot in Mea Shearim 248.8 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Haredim riot in Mea Shearim 248.8
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The streets of Mea She'arim seemed mostly quiet on Sunday, as yeshiva students shuffled through the narrow streets of the capital's haredi enclave, and shopkeepers stood outside, dutifully hawking their wares. Little sign of Saturday's rioting could be immediately seen, save for a few piles of trash and a tipped-over dumpster, which remained in the middle of the road near the corner of Hanevi'im and Shivtei Yisrael streets until mid-afternoon, causing minor traffic congestion and a handful of curious looks. Most of the residents seemed unperturbed by the disturbance, claiming it was a necessary way of making their voices heard. "This is the only way to get the municipality's attention," said one middle-aged resident as he looked at the garbage strewn about in the street. Farther inside the neighborhood however, tensions become more noticeable, as residents eyed outsiders suspiciously and fresh posters plastered along the walls bore virulently anti-Zionist rhetoric. Pashkivillim - street posters used to announce news and events - were still in place from last week, calling on the masses to rally on Saturday for what was described as the municipality's "raising of the battle sword against the holy Shabbat" - a reference to the opening of the Kikar Safra parking lot on Shabbat, which sparked Saturday's riot and threatens to spark more. There were also older posters on some walls calling the celebration of Yom Hatzma'ut an "abomination," and small stickers expressing support for the "expulsion of the Zionists from the Land of Israel." While anti-Zionist sentiments are nothing new in Mea She'arim the tense atmosphere isn't reserved for the state or the municipality alone. Later in the afternoon, a group of secular men almost came to blows with a crowd of young haredim, as the latter would not let them into a building to see one of the local rabbis. "We came to get a blessing," one of the men said. "Why won't they let us through?" The argument went on for a few minutes, before the group of men got in their car and left. "You just can't talk to secular people," said one haredi resident standing on the street. "They have no concept of God, so where can you start?"