Terrorism in Bet Shemesh
Over the last week or so, there has been a war by terrorists in Bet Shemesh. A fringe element of extremist Charedim objected to a dati-leumi elementary girl's school opening adjacent to their neighborhood (note that the adjacent dati-leumi neighborhood existed long before any Charedim moved into the area). They broke in to the school and vandalized it, and threatened violence to the children. Such threats, while dismissed as fictitious by the local charedi newspaper rag Chadash, are only too real; this is the same group that injured some of my neighbors' children, causing them to be hospitalized, as described in an earlier post. The (charedi) mayor of Bet Shemesh wanted to capitulate to their demands and relocate the school, but after massive protests by the dati-leumi community and orders from the education ministry, the school opened as planned.
Unfortunately, this is not the end of the story. The charedi zealots have been harassing - verbally and physically - the young girls from the school and others in the community. These are girls in the same class as my daughter - eight years old!
A local hero, Rabbi Dov Lipman, has been at the forefront of efforts to safeguard the dati-leumi community. I am posting a mailing that I received from him, along with videos of the latest incidents. But before doing so, I would like to make an observation of my own.
A friend of mine argued to me last week that this is not a charedi vs. non-charedi issue, because the thugs involved are a fringe element that are despised and feared by other charedim in their own community. I agreed with him, until I went to the massive demonstration at the school last week. I did not see a SINGLE charedi person there. Not one! Nor, with the exception of a statement by Eli Friedman of the TOV party, am I aware of any efforts by local Charedi leadership to address the problem or even to express solidarity with the students of the school. If the wider charedi community - including all the nice Anglo olim that are friends and neighbors of mine - are not willing to do anything at all about this terrible situation, even to show a minimal level of public support for their dati-leumi neighbors, then I think that the issue can be classified as a charedi vs. non-charedi issue.
Following is the email and videos from Rabbi Lipman:
Hello everyone. I was really expecting a quiet day today. We went to the school to protect the girls at dismissal and someone saw a group of the extremists up the block where girls were going to have to walk. We went up there to make sure the girls would have the ability to pass without feeling scared. As we approached they began to scream at us (including me by name, a bit scary) but we managed to get the girls through despite terrible shouts at them of "shiktza" and "prutza." They then surrounded me and others and one did spit in my face. At the same time, two very young girls (first and second grade) from Ahavat Yisrael were chased by at least one of the extremists in Rechov Gad in Sheinfeld. The sad videos below capture a lot of it and it is worthwhile to watch to see how bad it has gotten.
So what are we doing about it? I have spent the entire afternoon in touch with some local police (not the chief) and the Public Security Ministry. the latter plans to help but they are not yet responding in the immediate manner we are demanding which is additional forces tomorrow. There is some action on a local police level and I will report about that at a later point.
I personally believe that all local schools should strike tomorrow since all parents are sending their kids to school without knowing that they are truly safe. I am not trying to scare anyone, just sharing the reality. I understand that it is being discussed by the vaad horim but not likely.
I want to also emphasize that in conversations with chareidim not in this group, they are scared for their lives and their children's lives in terms of coming out against these guys who will simply "do more to any of us than we will do to them."
An action committee will be developed and I am actually thinking of a massive protest in front of the public security ministry in Jerusalem which will only be effective if we have a few hundred people there. I will send more later but for now please watch the videos just to understand.
Please just watch and internalize. Again, no provocations, just escorting little girls.
See how they begin chanting my name (a bit scary) as we approach and see the venom and hatred - and we are simply there to escort the girls. The woman being there was necessary as she literally had to put her arms around crying girls to help them through (for anyone who would even think to suggest that having a woman there was a provocation)
This is our police chief saying that he cannot arrest them or even move them away since "all they are doing is screaming." Go back to video #1 to see the "simple screaming" at little girls. Then he refuses to commit to having some policemen on that sidewalk.
See how we had to escort the little girls and how they were screamed at.
click on the speakers to hear me explain what happened to me (including being spat on and called "nazi" and "sheigitz") and the other speaker to hear an 8 year old girl from Ahavat Yisrael explain what it was like to get off her bus and be chased by one of the extremists.
Thus concludes the email from Rabbi Lipman. I urge my charedi friends in Ramat Bet Shemesh to show up to the next demonstration, wherever it is. Otherwise, you are effectively assisting the terrorists. I also urge them to reconsider their voting for Abutbol in the last election.