Sunday, March 15, 2009

Judaism’s Underbelly – The Meah Shearim Mentality

It will not deter them. This is what the defense for Elhanan Buzaglo told the court about the Vaad HaTznius – the chastity squad when their client was being sentenced.

Ynet reports:

The Jerusalem District Court sentenced Elhanan Buzaglo to four years in prison on Sunday, after finding him guilty of aggravated assault, extortion, aiding an extortion and intimidation.

I wrote about this fellow and the group that hired him last August. At the time of his arrest he denied having anything to do with this Vaad. That has proven to be untrue. He was a hired gun. Some people objected to my implying that this reflected on the entire Meah Shearim community. But I believe it does reflect on most of it.

Maybe they are not as violent personally. But I believe that the Vaad HaTznius represents the will of the people there. The Vaad is a vigilante group no different than any other. In the deep South of the late 19th and early 20th century it was the KKK. In Meah Shearim and its environs it’s the Chastity Squad.

Of course there are probably many people there who do not approve of the tactics. But they all approve of their goals: To rid that community of any individual whose behavior might veer from community Tznius standards. And it would not surprise me if secretly many of its residents approved of those tactics. After all if that’s the only way the can get ‘justice’ what choice do they have?!


This attitude is probably what gives the Vaad HaTznius the courage and determination to carry out their objectives by any means necessary including hiring thugs like Buzaglo to beat up defenseless women. And as Ynet reports the ‘harsh’ sentence will just spur them on to continue their violent ways. Mr. Buzaglo is after all only a small cog in a big wheel.

In case anyone thinks that he just got over-zealous in fulfilling his hire - here is what Ynet says about Mr Buzaglo and the group that hired him:

The "chastity squad" is a notorious group operating within the haredi community in the capital with the sole objective of fighting what it deems "female immodesty," and using methods of violence and intimidation to obtain its goal, if need be.

According to the prosecution, Buzaglo was hired to assault and intimidate a 31-year-old divorcee, who the "Chastity Squad" believed had "defaulted" on the proper haredi lifestyle, and pressure her into leaving her current place of residence.

The State alleged that Buzaglo, along with four accomplices, forced their way into the woman's home, gagged her, beat her and warned her that if she did not move she would be killed.

The defense claimed that community service was in order, since "the 'chastity squad' is ideologically motivated, and harsh punishment will not deter its members." Buzaglo, added the defense, was nothing but a "small bolt" in the machine.

This is a mentality that does not end at the borders of Meah Shearim either. Just ask the residents of Ramat Bet Shemesh. It has to be stopped.

Sentencing Buzaglo to four years in prison is a good start. What we need from the Charedi world is applause.