Sunday, June 04, 2017

Blaming the Victims

Charedi Protesters (illustration) Arutz Sheva
Once again extremist Charedim have struck.  I am so sick of these people. As I am of the lack of the authorities - both rabbinic and municipal to address the problem. - In essence blaming the victim.

I received an e-mail today from a resident in the Bet Shemesh area that included a couple of Facebook posts. Those posts described the latest outrage.  

A group of teenagers were escorted by adults through  a street that accesses Ramat Bet Shemesh Bet – where Meah Shearim type Charedim reside in major numbers. Probably 90% of the residents. 

As I have said countless times before, most of those people do not get involved in the kinds of protests that occurred there. But as I have also said countless times, they clearly support their philosophy and their goals. And I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them actually support their actions privately. Although they would not say so publicly, some actually do.

What is it exactly that they were protesting – and why?

The above mentioned teenagers did not live up to the town’s standards of Tznius.  Now it may be true that some of the female teens may have been in technical violation of Tznius, I don't know. But surely they were dressed modestly by most standards. I doubt that there was anything all that provocative being worn by those teens. But even if there was - it certainly did not warrant the kind of protest that these young people experienced. ‘Torah terrorists’ - as one Facebook poster described them - were screaming at them; calling them vile names; and throwing projectiles at them. 

The local police actually came by twice and did nothing. They didn’t even leave their cars. Those protesters also blocked the road going uphill to Ramat Bet Shemesh with garbage to prevent cars – including police vehicles and ambulances – from going through.

A second Facebook poster said that at a meeting with the municipality, the mayor actually blamed the victims! He said that the parents were acting irresponsibly – trying to make political points at the expense of their children by allowing them to walk there. The mayor spoke to those extremist protesters and they ‘explained’ that the girls walking down that street were not dressed Tzanua (modestly).I suppose he meant that these parents did this to taunt the Ramat Bet Shemsh Bet residents hoping there would be an incident that would ‘prove’ how evil this town was. 

Is that how the mayor deals with this outrage?! By implying it’s their own fault? There is no excuse for what happened there.  Even if they were right about these teens not being modest enough, the response by that community to it was vile! Evil beyond all proportion. It is not enough for the mayor to say (as he did) that he had nothing to do with it. Nor is he right to  blame the victims for being victimized. It is outrageous and it is wrong. 

As I have said countless numbers of times, the people responsible for the vile protest ought to have the book thrown at them. They ought to be arrested, tried, and when convicted sentenced to the maximum sentence allowed by law. 

If further protests erupt because of that let them protest and if there is a repeat of this behavior or worse - let more arrests be made. Fill the prisons with these people if necessary until they finally understand that their behavior will have seriious and disruptive consequences for them and their families. Let them once and for all get the message that uncivilized behavior and will no longer be tolerated. 

Furthermore let the moderate rabbis of Ramat Bet Shemesh Aleph be right there, in the courts cheering on those maximum sentences. Let them pay more than lipservice condemnation. They cannot afford to keep looking the other way while things like this keep happening. 

They cannot say  as one of them said a while back that they don’t need to protests the obvious. They ought not only protest loudly and firmly but make sure things change. There is absolutely no excuse for not doing so. Because their reticence will only encourage more of the same. Especially since the police don’t do anything - probably because of the attitude expressed by the mayor.

What about the accusation of the mayor? ...that the parents brought this upon themselves in order to make political points? I have no clue whether that’s true or not. But it doesn’t matter. When people react to the slightest provocation the way they did – even if it was an intentional provocation, they are the ones that deserve to be punished. Thus far they have not, it seems. This needs to change. Or else things like this will not only keep happening, but may increase.

And it is all such a shame. I have often noted how kind and generous the more moderate Charedim of Ramat Bet Shemesh Aleph are. They are nothing like the residents of Bet. They do not assault any female resident of their city that does not dress according to accepted Tznius protocols. They are as nice to others as can be. 

But because of actions and attitudes of people of Ramat Bet Shemesh Bet, the Charedi philosophy itself is blamed. I reject this entirely. Although I have some profound differences with the Israeli version of Charedism - there is nothing inherently evil about them. 

But if the rabbis of the moderate faction keep looking the other way, there should not be any surprise that a conclusion like that might be made by those outside of the Charedi world. What will it take for the moderate Charedi leadership to act? 

Why not cut off the people that is behave that way or approve of it in any way? Wouldn’t it serve us all better if  the vast majority of Charedim that are moderate would join hands with the Dati world and form the kind of unity that Klal Yiroael needs so desperately these days? Maybe then, the mayor would not accuse the Datim that were attacked of fomenting that protest for political purposes. Because even if that were true - there would no longer be any need to do so.