Two Recommended Reads

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First, the OU has issued an open letter to PM Ehud Olmert concerning the police brutality at Amona (Hat Tip: Hayom). It’s a worthwhile letter, but it merely makes what seems to me a very pareve request: that Olmert “promptly address our concerns.” [Oops. As one of the commenters pointed out, it calls for a commission of inquiry, strong condemnation, and punishment of those “responsible for ordering and executing the brutalities and gross violations of human and democratic rights that the world witnessed last week.” It also asks for a “clear message” that police violence “will never again be tolerated.” I would have done well to have read it more carefully yesterday — be sure you read the middle paragraphs!] And related to my earlier comments, I don’t recall the OU sending similar letters after, for example, the police invasion of the Satmar yeshiva. Perhaps our own Mark Bane, as a signatory to the OU letter, will have more to add.

Second, BeyondBT has the perspective of the father of Baalei Teshuvah (those who adopted Orthodoxy later in life — in this case, both of his children). I was recently looking for something to share with the parents of someone in a very similar situation to his daughter — I hope this article is widely read.

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26 Responses

  1. Yaakov Menken says:

    Menachem, that was my point. Not that my anecdotal evidence is any more compelling than JI’s, but that neither can be considered definitive — or helpful.

  2. Menachem Lipkin says:

    “I went through RZ circles on my way to becoming charedi, and I would tell you the opposite. A young woman I spoke with recently went from BY to Chardal (and then back to charedi), and would tell you the same—and that the RZ Rabbis were bashing the charedim toch k’dei dibur (in the same paragraph) that they were talking about how the charedim bash them.”

    Your anecdotal “evidence” is as meaningless as JI’s. Unless you can find an objective method to measure “lack of respect” I suggest you stay above the fray. Suffice it to say that some “lack of respect” exists on both sides. (I took the opposite route of the “young woman” you mentioned.)

  3. Yaakov Menken says:

    The fact that Shinui or whatever other party would have taken the place of the chareidim in the government does not add or detract from the chareidis personal responsibility not to participate in the hitnatkut.

    In other words, you believe that it was worth political suicide, affecting a host of other issues, in order to protest a fait accompli. That is your opinion, but is no excuse to criticize others who do not share your calculations. No one (that I recall) compared Satmar to the hitnatkut (if you mean Gaza).

    That lack of respect is much more pronounced from the chareidi side.

    What evidence do you have for this? The refusal to leap on their collective political sword in order to protest the Gaza withdrawal? I went through RZ circles on my way to becoming charedi, and I would tell you the opposite. A young woman I spoke with recently went from BY to Chardal (and then back to charedi), and would tell you the same — and that the RZ Rabbis were bashing the charedim toch k’dei dibur (in the same paragraph) that they were talking about how the charedim bash them.

    I would suggest that denegrating the “other” is counter-productive if what you want is for them to treat you with respect.

  4. J.I. says:

    J.I. – Your misunderstanding of how the Israeli politcal system works is misguiding you and allowing you to question Rav Elyashiv in such a mocking attitude.

    I didn’t question Rav Elyashiv in a mocking manner. I stated very simply that all of these chareidim are for some reason justifying their silence on the Amona issue by comparing it to RZ silence on the Satmar beatings. I think in that
    respect it is fair to point out that making such comparisons will not get anyone anywhere, since the RZ can easily
    retort with the chareidi complicitness in the hitnatkut which by any measure was manifold more traumatic and consequential
    than the Satmar incidenet. The fact that Shinui or whatever other party would have taken the place of the chareidim in
    the government does not add or detract from the chareidis personal responsibility not to participate in the hitnatkut.
    The only way the two groups could ever work together would have to be based on a groundwork of mutual respect. That lack
    of respect is much more pronounced from the chareidi side.

  5. Jewish Observer says:

    “If you now want to engage the Chareidim in a discussion, you need to talk to them one on one”

    It’s true. Charedim don’t do well in groups.

  6. Bob Miller says:

    Ahron,

    If you now want to engage the Chareidim in a discussion, you need to talk to them one on one.

  7. Ahron says:

    Bob,

    There are no “digs” here, there are only honest questions. Haredim have complained for a long time about Israeli police brutality. There was not enough attention paid to those complaints for a number of reasons, one of the reasons being that the protestors were often viewed as being “backwards” or “unsophisticated” or “asking for it”. The motivation for the protests, mistreatment of dead bodies, was also viewed as an odd and arcane cause. There is, however, no question that the protestors were passionate, motivated, and willing to endure harsh consequences for their protest. Though their cause is hard for many people to relate to, there was a clear altruism there, and therefore there was basic support for their protests from the Haredi community.

    Mainstream Jewish groups are now starting to pay more attention to Israeli police brutality and have started speaking against it. So, the question is: will Haredim join those groups and join the new generation of demonstrators who are also victims of Israeli police brutality, as a statement of protest and unity?

    I’m serious, Bob, this isn’t a dig: I want to know if protesting on behalf of live Jews who are being brutalized is feasible from within the Haredi community. I am basically talking about a kal vchomer: The Haredi community has supported protests over the mistreatment of dead bodies. So, is the community also willing to protest the mistreatment of live Jews? The question cannot be put any more simply and openly than that. It is an honest question and I want to hear the responses to it. In terms of simple self-interest, such protest would greatly reduce the likelihood of further incidents like the Satmar yeshiva invasion and dozens of lesser-known cases. I really think many Haredim do not understand how influential the community can be. (It is also appropriate for non-Haredim to protest the constant mistreatment of dead bodies by the Israeli medical examiner–the problem has inexplicably persisted for decades.) But I also hope we are not shying away from judgments over whether Halacha and Torah values judge the living or the dead to be more important foci of action in this world.

    “Guilt” is not a prerequisite for sign-on. A willingness to help living people is, and that willingness could benefit the Haredi community and Israelis in many, many ways.

  8. Bob Miller says:

    Ahron,

    Do you or don’t you want to mobilize Chareidim as allies? Digs at them do not accomplish this. They will not
    buy a ticket for your guilt trip.

  9. Ahron says:

    >”What is gained by raising the issue of live vs. dead when it’s clear that the undertaking is difficult to begin with?

    What undertaking are you referring to? Irrespective of that, since when are we free to desist from “difficult” undertakings? And how can the issue of life vs. death be anything but critical?

    >”Not exactly the best time to try to score points.

    “Points”? This isn’t about points Bob — this is about a large and influential Israeli constituency that is not mobilizing on issues where it could be highly effective. Instead the community is passionate about topics involving dead bodies. Could not some of that passion and activism be directed to saving live people from harm?

  10. Bob Miller says:

    “Jewish Observer”,

    Please pause while I reset my offended-ometer.

    Now, take a deep breath and say: “I will try to not always be silly”.

  11. Bob Miller says:

    Ahron,

    What is gained by raising the issue of live vs. dead when it’s clear that the undertaking is difficult to begin with? Not exactly the best time to try to score points.

    As for “willingness to riot”, I should hope that no one would be willing to riot, either for their cause or yours.

  12. Jewish Observer says:

    Bob Said – “I’m offended that you’re offended—-nyaaa”

    Bob are you speaking in an official capacity for the New York Alcoholic Anxiety Attack?

    their web site http://www.nyaaa.co.uk/ makes no mention of you as a spokespersion

  13. Ahron says:

    Here’s one practical idea off the top of my head:

    1. Joint task forces of Zionist+Haredi Jews to fight the abuses of live Jews at the hands of Israeli politicians and police.

    2. Joint task forces of Zionist+Haredi Jews to fight the abuses of dead bodies at the hands of the Israeli medical examiner’s office.

    An acknowledgement that live bodies are more important than dead bodies would also seem an appropriate starting point.

  14. TzviNoach says:

    Ahron –

    While I don’t think it’s appropriate to suggest that Torah Jews should riot, the idea of the Charedi community coming to the defense of other Jews who are being mistreated is a good one, and it is valid to ask why this has not happened. Unfortunately, we know the answers too well.

    The comity and dialog that exist between different persuasions of orthodox Jews here on C-C, and more broadly in the west, are virtually non-existent in Israel. Each group is focused on its own issues, and has little interest in, or sympathy for, the other. We are now witnessing (this has been happening increasingly for several years) various government officials and bodies take advantage of this lack of unity to attack and cause serious damage to the goals that we should all have in common.

    Any practical ideas on how to address this? (I don’t mean suggestions like “the various factions should …” or “R’ Elyashiv should …” or “the Chief Rabbis should …” or anything like that. I mean something that we can initiate that might actually happen and that has a practical chance of making a difference.)

  15. a pashut yid says:

    Ahron — good question. The only answer I would have is that there seems to be some unwritten agreement in which the Chareidim protest “chareidi” issues, and the Tzionim protest “tzioni” issues. I think its terrible.

    J.I. – Your misunderstanding of how the Israeli politcal system works is misguiding you and allowing you to question Rav Elyashiv in such a mocking attitude. If UTJ was not in the coalition, someone else would have been. Would you have rather that the hitnatkut been brought about with the Arabs in the government? Or Shinui?

    The hitnatkut affected 9,000 people directly, and very strongly. The budget cuts harmed 100,000’s of people. Where were the Tzioni parties? Teaming up with Shinui, right before they got stabbed in the back.

  16. Ahron says:

    R. Menken is correct: There have been recurring episodes of Israeli police brutality for years, particularly endemic against members of the religious Jewish sector: and the OU–and the NCYI, UJC, et al–both could and should have been on top of this earlier. One reason may be that the invasion of the Satmar yeshiva was much less publicized…. but that’s not a good excuse. Anyway, Israeli police incompetence is legendary and now their reputation for brutality is rising to match it.

    But I am much more worried about the reactions of the Haredi community to all of this. As covered here last week, there are Haredim that are willing to take strong measures, occasionally even riot, over the mistreatment of a dead body. Those protestors enjoy the tacit permission and sometimes support of much their community. This isn’t evil, and it’s not elegant, but it’s reality.

    But if some Haredim are willing to riot against the abuse of dead bodies….why aren’t there any Haredim willing to riot against the abuse of live Jews? Haredim in fact have substantial communal and political force in Israel…..so why is that force only exerted on behalf of people who are already dead?

  17. Bob Miller says:

    I’m offended that you’re offended—nyaaa!!!

  18. Jewish Observer says:

    Bob Said – “No one has to compromise their core principles to do this (cooperate)”

    I am offended by the notion that it is NOT a compromise to my core principles to cooperate.

    Fondly –
    JO

  19. Bob Miller says:

    Instead of asking “where were you when the government was attacking us?” or claiming
    that “our group’s pain now is greater or more significant than your group’s then”, it
    would be a lot more productive for the victimized communities to start working really
    hard to cooperate in areas of common concern. No one has to compromise their core
    principles to do this.

  20. J.I. says:

    I don’t think the OU feels the needs to comments on every internal occurrence in Israel.

    Amona was obviously an incident of much larger ramifications than the Satmar incident.

    Also I don’t really see the value in asking rhetorical questions like that. Likewise, one
    could ask where was Rav Elyashiv during the hitnatkut, although the answer to that is all too
    painfully obvious – in the government.

  21. Jewish Observer says:

    I am deeply offended that Aaron called by comment “dumb”. I would have preferred one of those fancy blogger words like specious.

  22. David Gerstman says:

    Yaakov,
    Understand that the OU is walking a tightrope here. If its statement is anything more than
    ‘pareve’ it risks being marginalized politically.

  23. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Yaakov,

    Are you reading the same OU letter you linked us to? The letter called for the government of Israel to establish an independent commission of inquiry, to condemn and punish government representative for the abuses, and to send a clear message to all security forces that this behavior will not be tolerated. If you consider those demands parve then I hope you stay out of the kitchen in your house. :)

    As for Satmar. Mah hakesher? This letter is in response to an incident that has national ramifications for Israel and international ramifications for all Jews. The Satmar incident, while troubling, was a purely parochial affair which did not warrant the involvement of an International Organization.

  24. Aaron says:

    What precipitated the police going into the Satmat yeshiva? I didn’t hear of this
    story, (not surprisingly). Jewish Observer, what a dumb comment.

  25. Jewish Observer says:

    Oh hi. Do you seriously not hear that there is a chiluk between these devotees of the State and, of all people, Satmar?

  26. Bob Miller says:

    I see the OU letter as a very positive development. If the OU was not moved in the
    past to respond to police abuse of citizens, they now may have become sensitized
    to the broad issue, regardless of which group is targeted on a given day.

    On the other hand, it was a real stretch to characterize the Yassam police unit as
    “elite”.