Lack of Empathy?

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Steve Brizel has commented twice recently that he sees a lack of empathy between Charedim and the Religious Zionist circles on incidents like the autopsy on the one hand, and the evacuation of Amona on the other.

Frankly, I don’t think the divide is as big as he does, between the Orthodox. I have friends, relatives, and colleagues who are “Modern” or “Religious Zionist.” Fine, we disagree on some things. But the areas of agreement overwhelm the differences. I also think there is an active center of people who straddle the line in various ways.

The purpose of my earlier post was to validate and authenticate every assertion made by the Amona protesters against the police, from my own personal experience — and to add my own small voice to those who say that the Israeli police have demonstrated themselves to be entirely out of control. A serious and thorough investigation into their brutality is not merely warranted, but entirely demanded both by law and basic moral decency.

Ehud Olmert recently decided to transfer millions of dollars to Hamas terrorists. He not merely ordered up the Amona evacuation, but has now refused calls for an investigation into obvious police brutality, as seen on truly frightening video clips. Were I an Israeli citizen I would certainly vote for the UTJ, but I have, thanks to these three things, changed my mind — I am now of the opinion that Olmert is not a competent leader of the Jewish state, as he cannot distinguish friend from foe. I hope that Netanyahu somehow wins. If I had no empathy for the Amona protesters, that shift in my feelings would not have happened.

I do not believe it inappropriate to point out to my Religious Zionist brethren that we charedim have been saying the same things about the police, especially the border police, for years. The video coverage from Amona is even far more disturbing than either video linked from my previous post, because the targets were teenagers and the behavior of police was, if possible, even more brutal. I must warn the viewer about the seriously disturbing content of this video found on IsraelReporter.com, but nonetheless think it important that it be shared.

The music is both ferocious and in German. The last frame says “and the police? They were only following orders.” Is this a coincidence? Or do we now hear Religious Zionists saying the very thing they so roundly condemned when it emerged from the mouths of charedim in decades past? I ask you — when you see a horseman riding down a Jewish teenager, and a cadre of storm troopers viciously beating seated demonstrators… do you think they are Jewish soldiers, or the perpetrators of a vicious pogrom?

Sadly, they are both. Sadly, this is also not new — and I neither intend nor perceive any lack of empathy for the latest victims when I point that out. On the contrary, it means that this was no isolated incident, and that in turn adds both weight and urgency to the calls for a full investigation.

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17 Responses

  1. HF says:

    what does writing E. israel mean and why is that offensive?

  2. mycroft says:

    “It even appears in Nefesh Harav itself, Reishit Yerushalayim printing, on the second page – “Printed in E. Israel”!”

    Nefesh Harav is one Talmids version-Rav H Schachter- of some aspects of Rav Soloveitchik ZT”L. That is not proof of what Rav Soloveitchik
    wrote. Look at letters that have been published of Rav Soloveitchik.

  3. Shlomo Har-Tov says:

    Before or after the establishment of the State

    After.

    It even appears in Nefesh Harav itself, Reishit Yerushalayim printing, on the second page – “Printed in E. Israel”!

  4. mycroft says:

    Obviously I meant to write in 803 PM post using names from the TAnach not names from Tanaim eg Mishnaic times.

  5. mycroft says:

    “BTW for those who write E. Israel on envelopes to and from Israel that is a low level insult to the state.
    One will not find that written anywhere except by Chareidim.

    Incorrect. Rabbi Soloveitchik did this as well”

    Before or after the establishment of the State. BTW Rav Soloveitchik would at least sometimes date documents using Tanaitic names=eg I saw a document of his signed Chodesh Ziv rather than Iyyar. It is well known that he would respopnd to New Years wishes “ben kessa leasar Yerach Haetanim” My transliterations are free form.
    .

  6. Menachem Lipkin says:

    I’m not sure why so many people are attempting to minimize the settler violence. Besides the more serious items of glass in the eye and cement smashing a knee cap, there was a barage of rocks, paint filled light bulbs, and other metal objects directed at the police. It was still most-likely a small minority, but it was a very serious situation and not just one or two lunatics.

    I know we’d like to believe that all of the police brutally set upon a bunch of innocent children sitting with flowers in their hair singing kumbaya, but that’s not the reality. Both among the police and among the settlers there were those acted illegally and violently. And also among both groups innocent people got hurt.

    It’s just not as simple as we’d like it to be.

  7. Yaakov Menken says:

    Joel,

    As I said in my first article about this,

    The entire crowd cannot be tarred with the broad brush of the cement-thrower. The police, on the other hand, operate under a commander. When they act, they act as a group… Unless those individuals whose actions constituted police brutality are arrested, it is entirely fair to say that the police themselves acted outrageously.

    It is obviously true that within every group, including the police, there are unrepresentative “fringe elements.” As I said in reference to the cement thrower (it turned out to have been a piece of window glass), “that individual needs to be arrested and jailed.” But there is no evidence that the larger group participated in or in any way endorsed glass-throwing.

    Has the police commander on scene apologized for the outrageous misbehavior of isolated officers? Has he launched into an investigation to determine who did this, how it was allowed to happen, and how to prevent a recurrance?

    I also don’t know who “the other” is, in this case, meaning that the police form no particular ethnic or socioeconomic block. Once a policeman is out of uniform, there is no other within the Israeli population.

    But in uniform, there is a very serious problem.

    Also see SB Rozen’s comment to my earlier post, as it bears directly upon all of these issues.

  8. Steve Brizel says:

    Thanks for the post.I think that most Charedim, outside of NK, offer a de facto and de jure recognition of the State without
    offering a theological basis, as is the case for RZ of all stripes. Maybe Amona and the latest episode in Jerusalem will convince Charedim and RZs that they have more in common than a one-issue ideological issue which has zero relevance now. Maybe Charedim and RZ do work together on some issues. It would nice to see some evidence of this. I remain unconvinced as long as the much of the sympathy in Charedi and RZ circles seems to approximate “crocodile tears.” Ig you don’t think that Charedim watch their ideological right flanks, then you should read an interview between R Porush and the head of the Edah Charedis in Mishpacha. If you read itwithout a date, you would think that this was the 1930s. I think that the time for reciting past failures, etc is over in both camps. If Charedim andRZ don’t wake up and realize that they both are the targets of a Labor-Left alliance led by Omert, they are sadly mistaken.

  9. Shlomo Har-Tov says:

    BTW for those who write E. Israel on envelopes to and from Israel that is a low level insult to the state.
    One will not find that written anywhere except by Chareidim.

    Incorrect. Rabbi Soloveitchik did this as well. (Nefesh Harav pg. 93).

  10. Menachem Lipkin says:

    What’s missing from this discussion is a perspective from the other, other side. This article gives an injured policeman’s perspective of what he saw.

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3211769,00.html

  11. joel rich says:

    Thank you for your response. Interesting is how when one’s own group has elements that act inappropriately, they are often minimized as a fringe element not representative of the greater whole, yet when “the other’s” group has elements that act inappropriatley, that entire group is demonized.

    I also think your comments are reflective of a mindset that treats other Jews as “the other” which again I find inappropriate. IMHO it’s this approach that has led us to the situation we find ourselves in today.

    Finally, I believe is that it is totally inappropriate to draw the moral equivalence you did. You are certainly entitled to do so but I am not mkabel.
    KT

  12. Bob Miller says:

    Questions that maybe someone could answer:
    1. What is the history of government- or party-sanctioned violent tactics by Jews against Jews in Eretz Yisrael since World War I?
    2. What are the command structure and organizational relationships of the police units that were engaged in Amona?
    3. Does the phenomenon of police violence have communist or fascist roots, or both?
    4. How can the operation of unrestrained police units be said to be consistent with a democratic form of government?
    6. To what degree are today’s advocates of revolt against the government willing employ violent tactics themselves, if they had the means?
    7. How can one characterize as “the rule of law” a system that protects out-of-control police officers against all legal repercussions?

  13. Yaakov Menken says:

    Joel,

    Yes.

    There is a 15-year old boy named Yechiam Eyal, who died on the way to Hadassah hospital — his heart and breathing stopped. [He was successfully resuscitated, has emerged from a coma, and iy”H will fully recover.]

    Yechiam died not because he fell off a building, and not because he was in an automobile accident, but because a border policeman hit the boy so hard that he fractured his skull. Do you have any idea how hard you have to hit someone in order to fracture the skull? When Yechiam’s brother Yotam reports that another policeman said “I’m sorry he isn’t dead,” that is unfortunately easy to believe, since the policeman who hit Yechiam was clearly attempting to kill him.

    And the boy wasn’t alone. Look at the video of the policemen beating seated demonstrators. There was no fight. There was no violence on the part of these demonstrators. And the police batons were used with lethal force.

    If a person rides someone down with a horse, he is either attempting to kill him or, at best, indifferent to the victim’s survival. The officer who charged into the crowd of teenagers might have felled many more than one boy, but one is more than enough.

    Is riding someone down with a horse Jewish behavior, or that of our worst enemies?

    If we are to accept that as the behavior of “Jews carrying out the orders of a democratically elected Jewish government,” then clearly the Satmar Rav was right.

  14. Nachum says:

    I don’t quite grasp why you’d vote for a party that supports all this.

  15. HILLEL says:

    The Zionist leaders of today should be properly compared to the Jreish Hellenizers in the period of the Macabbees.

    Although the Hellenizers were Jews, their primary loyaly was to the Greek overlords, not to their Jewish brethern and the Torah.

    The Jewish Hellenizers cooperated with the Syrian/Greek King Antiochus, instituting pogroms against any Jew who observed his religion–Shabbos,Brit Milah, Rosh Chodesh.

    The secular leaders of the Israeli Government–Olmert and the rest–owe their primary alleigence to America and Europe. They are more comfortable with those secular cultures–movies, TV, pop music, poronography, homosexual roghts, wtc–than with Torah culture, which they place in the same category as Muslim extremism.

    So, it should come as no surprise that they treat religious jews as outsiders–In their eyes, they are.

  16. Joel Rich says:

    The music is both ferocious and in German. The last frame says “and the police? They were only following orders.” Is this a coincidence? Or do we now hear Religious Zionists saying the very thing they so roundly condemned when it emerged from the mouths of charedim in decades past? I ask you—when you see a horseman riding down a Jewish teenager, and a cadre of storm troopers viciously beating seated demonstrators… do you think they are Jewish soldiers, or the perpetrators of a vicious pogrom?

    Sadly, they are both.
    =============================
    Just to be sure I understand and without prejudice towards any other points you seek to make, are you consciously drawing a moral equivalence between Jews carrying out the orders of a democratically elected Jewish government and those who killed Jews in pogroms and the holocaust?
    KT

  17. mycroft says:

    There is another comparison between the latest segment of the RZ community and segments of the Chareidi community-they don’t accept the legitimacy of the state. One cannot expect kid glove treadtment when one not only is protesting an action of the state-but challenges the legitimacy of the state itself. In the Amona recent examplethere is cause to believe that that least a certain percentage treated the action as war against the state.
    BTW for those who write E. Israel on envelopes to and from Israel that is a low level insult to the state.
    One will not find that written anywhere except by Chareidim.
    It appears that Olmert has less sympathy for the RZ community than Sharon did. See recent biography of Sharon in the late January New Yorker interesting reading.