The Charedi Reaction
The reactions to the events in Bet Shemesh have been interesting and revealing. They also show how Jews in the US are out of touch with Bet Shemesh.
The OU and RCA issued an unequivocal condemnation of the kanna'im, along with urging everyone to recognize that "the vast majority of Charedi Jews find these actions abhorrent."
The Agudah also condemned the kanna'im, and claimed that "the extremist element is odious to, and rejected by, the vast majority of charedi Jews." (Though they also spent even more words stressing that the cause of tzniyus is of great importance, inevitably leading many to wonder about the sincerity of their condemnation.)
The local Bet Shemesh charedi weekly newspaper Chadash, which effectively represents the Mayor and his council (it is owned by their spokesman), had a very different reaction.
On the front page, in a gigantic headline, it screamed "THE BLITZ." Under that, it stated that the Charedi residents of Bet Shemesh have become a target of "redifah" (persecution), "the likes of which have never been seen."
Really? Have they been spat on? Have they had stones thrown at them? Have they had their flags stolen? Have they had their cars vandalized? Have they had their social activities broken up? Have they had their businesses threatened if they don't put up certain signs? Have they had their kids beaten? No; that's only happened to hundreds of non-charedim here.
The entire "special issue" of Chadash contained article after article about the terrible, evil secular campaign against the Charedim, with each article including a graphic captioned "The city under attack!"
Especially ironic was a half-page article about a Haaretz journalist who allegedly spat on a little girl (which he entirely denies). This is in a newspaper which never prints articles about the countless spittings and acts of vandalism and physical violence committed by local charedim against the national-religious. Even when there was a mob beating of kids which resulted in my neighbor's child requiring stitches in his head, the newspaper claimed that it was all the dati-leumi kids' faults! Likewise, in the early days of the violence against Orot, Chadash falsely claimed that there was no vandalism against the school, and claimed that the persecution was of the National-Religious against Charedim, who were "setting dogs on them" (which was completely false).
The lead editorial rants on and on about the terrible, baseless persecution of the charedi population. It denounces the kippa-wearing people who brought the Orot situation to the attention of the wider public. It does not issue a single word of condemnation against the charedi thugs. Not one word!
A later article in Chadash asks why the charedi population should be held responsible for the actions of a few extremists.
I'll tell you why the very people behind Chadash should shoulder some of the blame. Because the people behind Chadash never, ever report about charedi wrongdoings or condemn them. Instead, they demonize and slander National-Religious people.
In light of all this, the claims being made about how the actions of the kanna'im are entirely abhorrent to the vast majority of Charedi Jews are a little misleading. To the local Israeli charedim in Bet Shemesh, the actions of the kanna'im aren't anywhere near as abhorrent as the protests against them.