Friday, April 13, 2018

A Really Bad Idea

Anti Israel extremists of Meah Shearim (Arutz Sheva)
I appreciate the sentiment. In fact, I might have in a moment of anger supported it. But ultimately it is a really bad idea.

I don’t know anything about Evyatar Elbaz. But he has apparently arranged for something he calls a ‘Victory Round’ to take place on Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) in the heart of Meah Shearim. Where riots have recently taken place which have included some of the most despicable behavior ever by religious looking Jews! As Elbaz noted in an article in Arutz Sheva, those riots ‘have turned the lives of Jerusalem residents into hell in recent months.’ 
"The peak of course was the violent and despicable behavior of those extremists who desecrated the funeral procession and kidnapped the body of the baby who drowned in a hotel in Ashdod. This is compounded by Jerusalem road-blocking, vandalism of city property, injury to haredim who decided to join the army, and of course their traditional contempt for state symbols such as Memorial Day for Israel's Fallen Soldiers and Independence Day," 
Elbaz and other activists will arrive Sunday in jeeps flying flags of the State of Israel. He says he is not afraid and is prepared for every neighborhood resident reaction. "They have to understand that with violence and crazy extremism they won't achieve anything," Elbaz stressed. 
The problem with doing this is that it will not change the hearts and minds of people that believe the worst about Israeli leaders, - having referred to them more than once as Nazis. A march through those neighborhoods on a day that they consider a tragedy for the Jewish people will only make them angry. It may even spark violence between those proudly carrying those flags and those that spit on it.

As much as I understand and agree with Elbaz’s motives, I am strongly opposed at this march. Whatever statement they want to make will be outweighed by the violence that may very easily ensue.

His goal of conveying to them that violence and extremism won't achieve anything will fall on deaf ears. It won’t work,.

I don’t know what will. I have no real clue how to prevent future riots by those Israel haters. These are people with a mission! They are ideologues that will not compromise. They view themselves as guardians of the gates of Torah... soldiers for God at war with those that they think want to destroy it. 

They see opposition to the State as a religious imperative – worthy of great sacrifice! And obviously worthy of hurting fellow innocent Jews in the process. Whatever it takes!  For example setting dumpsters on fire which has been a tactic of theirs in the past creates toxic fumes that can easily harm the sick and elderly of their own neighborhoods. But they don’t care. For them, it’s all about their cause! Sound familiar?

The truth is that violent protesters of Meah Shearim have a lot in common with violent Islamic Fundamentalists. Their views on Israel - sourced in their religious beliefs - are for all practical purposes identical. They are both religious extremists that want Israel destroyed and are willing to hurt others when it suits their purposes. 

So a mere march with Israeli flags down Meah Shearim’s main street will only strengthen their resolve and might result in violence that will not serve to advance their goal. 

Instead of marching against them in their own neighborhoods, any ideology that causes the kind of continued riots that happen in this community should be condemned. Religious leaders that promote it should be isolated from the rest of the observant civilized world. They already have a start in that direction. They self isolate from the rest of us. 

But even that is not enough.  Although I don’t think it will ever happen, their rabbinic leaders who promote that ideology need to be condemned by the entire mainstream Orthodox establishment same as it does the extremists on the Left. 

There can no longer be any kind of apologetics for them. There can be no “I condemn what they do but I agree with their motives’.  No more puff pieces in Charedi magazines about how wonderfully religious they are - and even how idealistic their anti Israel views are. Their leaders need to be completely ostracized by the rest of the Torah world as ‘Chutz L’Machane’ - outside the camp of Torah! A virtual Cherem if you will! 

That should be accompanied by full support of the government to crack down on them if and when it happens again. No more pity. No more‘trying to get them off’. If laws are broken they ought to be punished to the full extent of the law. With the complete unequivocal support of all of mainstream Orthodox leadership. Protests to that should be followed with similar consequences. Even if every single one of them ends up in prison. 

There are those that say, that even this won’t help. Perhaps they’re right. But as least the world will know that these people do not represent the Torah no matter how loudly they scream it.