Eichler slams ‘coordinated' anti-haredi campaign

United Torah Judaism chairman speaks out against campaign by media, secular groups to portray entire ultra-Orthodox community as intemperate extremists.

haredi women in Beit Shemesh_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
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.
“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.
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“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.”
“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.