|Charedi violence in Jerusalem (2009) - note onlookers' approving smiles (J-Post)|
There are Charedim. And then again, there are Charedim. Actually I believe there is a wide spectrum of Charedim and not just 2 types I usually contrast: moderate and extreme. But even the extremes have extremes. I refer you to a story in Yeshiva World News (YWN) and in Baltimore Jewish Life (BJL). They have reported on yet another spate of attacks by Charedi residents of Ramat Bet Shemesh (probably from bet - not aleph of gimmel) against uniformed Charedi soldiers who happened into their midst. The latest of which occurred just last week.
Unfortunately there is nothing new in this. It has happened so many times in the past, that it is hardly on the media’s radar. The news media do not report on everyday events. It would be like reporting someone crossing the street against a red light.
But that doesn’t mean we should just forget about it and go about our business. The frequency of a bad act does not make it any less bad. And it is NOT the same as crossing the street against a red light. It is a violent act with intent cause harm to another human being!
To the credit of local police officials, after investigating this violence - they took action. From YWN and BJL:
Following the investigations into the above-mentioned events, police during the night of motzei Shabbos arrested three Beit Shemesh residents for attacking the soldier and for violence during the protest against the arrest of the talmid. Two adults are going to be charged with attacking police and a 14-year-old will be charged with attacking the soldier. After the detainees were processed in the Beit Shemesh police station they were remanded in front of a Jerusalem Magistrate Court.
I hope this starts a new trend of police not looking the other way when things like this happen. I also hope that any protests by Charedim of this community are ignored. Unless they too turn violent. In which case the guilty should be arrested too. And remanded. The police department should never allow themselves to be intimidated by mob violence. Even when that mob consists of pious looking Jews. Perhaps especially then!
I truly believe that the type of people that do this are adherents of a version of Judaism that is at complete odds with the vast majority of Orthodox Jews, including most Charedim. Not only moderate Charedim but even hard core right wing Charedim. Even in Israel where such extremes tend to be more common.
I have said this before and I stand by it. The perpetrators of this violence are the juvenile delinquents of that world. But it is equally clear that their illegal and violent attacks acts are based on a philosophy of hatred and intolerance towards those they disagree with. Which masquerades as the ‘Torah True’ Hashkafa. A Hashkafa that is constantly expressed by their rabbinic leadership.
Their leadership does not actually call for violence. But when you call fellow Jews in government who created an army program for Charedim - Nazis (or the like), what kind of reaction should they expect from their young vandals that think (or pretend) they are merely acting as zealots for their cause? (This is hardly any different than Religious Zionist Hilltop Youth perpetrating violence against innocent Arabs for the same reason. In both cases, they believe their religious views justify said violence. And in my view - Hashkafos that generate violence against innocent people - are not Jewish.)
Charedi reactions to these events ought to not consist merely of tepid condemnations followed by apologetics like saying their motives were correct. It is time to completely reject the philosophy of these people no differently than we reject the philosophies of heterodoxy.
The fact that they have the trappings of the most pious Jews among us should not give them a pass, nor should it generate any sympathy. Looking Frum is not being Frum. Furthermore following certain Halachos meticulously (like Shabbos and Kashrus) does not mean we accept their legitimacy any more than we accept the legitimacy of heterodox Jews who follow certain Halachos (like Shabbos and Kashrus). At some point there are things that disqualify a Hashkafa’s legitimacy no matter how ‘Frum’ their adherents look - or carefully they observe certain Halachos.
I truly believe it should not only be the vast majority of Charedim – which are mostly moderate that reject them. I believe that even those Charedim to their right that are more hard core should reject them. Because in my view the violent behavior their philosophy generates in some of their youth makes it completely out of the Torah’s orbit. They may be Jewish. But in my view – Torah True they are not.