Thursday, July 15, 2010

We Really Mean it This Time!

The well publicized incident in Israel last week where two motorcyclists were injured when they slammed into obstacles placed in a major super highway near Jerusalem by protesters has finally resulted in a reaction from the Edah HaCharedis. They are the rabidly anti Israel rabbinic body that is responsible for most of the anti government protests there. The most recent protest was against government desecration of grave sites in construction areas.

Until recently their admonitions to not act violently during these protests have pretty much fallen on deaf ears. So they have now ramped up their opposition to such violence. They have come out with a Kol Korei - a posted message intended to be read by all. From Yeshiva World News:

The Kol Koreh which is signed by Gaavad Hagon Rav Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss Shlita and the rest of the Eida leadership, was released this morning.

The first warning is that it is now forbidden for any children or Bochrim to participate in any Hafganos (against Chillul Shabbos & Chillul Kevarim).

The Kol Koreh also warns against any acts of violence, such as stone throwing – because it can cause serious injury, and warns against making fires – since it can cause various types of damage.

The Kol Koreh ends off with a stern warning that everyone must abide by these new rules.

This is the first Kol Koreh which specifically mentions stone throwing and making fires to ever be released by the Eidah Charedis, and they are hopeful that this will stop the violence witnessed by Hafganos.

(wink wink)

OK - maybe I’m being too cynical here. I realize that the leaders of the Edah are not really in favor of violence. But I have to ask why they think this warning is going to be any different than previous warnings. True - this is the strongest warning they have come out with to date. But frankly they have been crying wolf too long. It’s almost as if they were saying, ‘This time if you’re violent - we’re really going to be mad!’

You’ll note that there is no teeth in this Kol Korei. It is just a stern admonition. They say nothing about consequences to those who get carried away and throw a couple of rocks at the police or at innocent by-standers.

I will only begin to take them seriously if they build in some consequences into such warnings. If they had said that violent protesters of any kind will be turned over to the police – I would believe them. But they don’t even remotely hint at that. They are just saying, ‘Come on guys – we really mean it this time!’

If they had decided to cancel all future protests that too would have been convincing. But they in fact refused to do so – leaving open the possibility of future violence. What does a protester lose if he throws some rocks? If he is arrested by the police, will the Edah come to his rescue? There-in lies my problem.

I have been informed by an Israeli contact that the Hebrew edition of Mishpacha Magazine reports that some of the more responsible supporters of the Edah actually approached them to call a halt to all future protests. They refused. This Kol Korei is a compromise.

From this it seems that had they not been approached at all – they may not have said anything. They are more interested in carrying out anti Government protests than they are in preventing violence. Unlike other more responsible Charedi rabbinic leadership that shuns such protests – the Edah consider it a valuable tactic that is worth the risk of violence.

Last time the Edah said something like this it was followed by a relatively peaceful protest. I’m sure the same thing will happen next time. But just like it didn’t take long for later protests to become some of the most violent to date – I expect the same thing to happen again – perhaps even surpassing the violence of the last one.

So maybe they are serious about stopping the violence. I will give them the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps this wasn’t just a ‘wink wink’ phony baloney Kol Korei designed to give the Edah deniability if violence occurs. But it sure feels like it.