US Rabbi: Haredi leaders should slam violence

US Rabbi Yakov Horowitz calls violent protests over J'lem parking "ugly perversion of Torah values."

haredi protest riot 248.88 AJ (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
haredi protest riot 248.88 AJ
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
An American haredi rabbi is urging haredi rabbinical leaders in Israel to publicly condemn the violent haredi protests against Shabbat desecration in Jerusalem, linked to the opening of a parking lot near the Old City to accommodate weekend visitors to the capital. The initiative by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz of Monsey, New York, a haredi educator who has repeatedly condemned haredi violence in the past, comes after three weekends of violent demonstrations by hundreds of haredim in Jerusalem over the Shabbat opening of the parking lot, and on the eve of a planned haredi prayer vigil Wednesday afternoon near City Hall. "This type of violence is against everything that the Torah stands for and is an ugly perversion of Torah values," Horowitz told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, in a telephone interview from New York. Horowitz said that by not speaking out publicly against the violence, even though they oppose it, haredi leaders are empowering extremists in the community. "The tragedy is that people in our community are not speaking out against this publicly and distancing themselves from it," he said. "We, the silent overwhelming majority, are allowing these hooligans to speak for us." The American rabbi, who has spearheaded an e-mail campaign against the violence via his Web site ( and is also working to get haredi leaders to speak out against such violent protests, says that he wants the leaders of the haredi community to publicly disassociate themselves from the violence. "We are to blame for the fact that the guy with the rock is our spokesman, because we didn't fire him years ago," he said. Horowitz said that it was wrong for rabbinical leaders to be passive about condemning the violence, assuming that people know they condemn it, noting that while many rabbis and leaders decry the violence to their students and congregants, their message is not getting out to the general population. "Our lack of speaking out and distancing ourselves is perpetuating this distorted view that this type of violence is somehow following the Torah's ways," he said. "Nothing could be further from the truth." The New York rabbi said that stoning police and motorists on the Shabbat was a greater desecration of God's name than all the secular Israelis driving on the holy day. The protests, which have been organized by the Eda Haredit sect, were in response to the Jerusalem Municipality's decision to open a parking lot on Shabbat at the urging of police, who said that double-parking on major city thoroughfares on Shabbat due to a dearth of parking spaces was causing a safety hazard. "Maybe [the Eda Haredit protest organizers] should worry more about the hundreds of our sons and daughters who are in Israeli clubs on Friday night smoking pot, than worrying about secular Jews parking their cars on Shabbos," Horowitz wrote on his Web site, in a column entitled "The Nauseating Violence in Eretz Yisroel." "Maybe [they] should worry more about the pedophiles in our community who are violating children, more than those outside our community who are violating Shabbos."