Where is the video of the bus incident?

When I first read about the lady on the #2 bus, I was inclined to cheer her on. From the sound of it, the behavior of the men was appalling, and she got some good licks in. Certainly the idea of separate seating on buses is most unappealing to me, but in her place, I would have meekly moved back anyway. Secretly I’m glad there are other, sterner women who aren’t so meek. Well, to be honest, it’s not the separate seating but the sitting in back that bothers me. If the men sat in back and the ladies up front, I really would not mind. My charedi brother in fact says that if looking at women is the real problem, the men should sit at the rear of the bus–facing backwards! :- )

My charedi relatives mostly are opposed to the whole idea of mehadrin buses, although one female relative tells me that many women prefer the separate seating because they are not crushed by pushy men who elbow their way through crowded buses. And they can nurse their babies discreetly under loose blankets without being noticed. But I still find the idea of segregated buses distasteful.

Having said all that, I really wonder about some of the details in the bus story. There is an email going around the internet, purportedly written by the victim, which has in it one absolutely astounding detail. It claims that there were TWO SECULAR CAMERAMEN ON THE BUS WHO VIDEOTAPED THE INCIDENT. Is this plausible? How often do secular cameramen take the #2 bus to the kosel at 6 AM? What are the odds that they would do so just on the day when this bizarre incident unfolded? Was the confrontation planned? Did someone tip the cameramen off? Were they really on the bus? Where are these two men? Where is the footage they shot? Why hasn’t it been aired?

Below, the email in full (I have put a couple of sentences in bold). I don’t know for sure that this is the form in which she originally wrote the letter; others may have edited or added some elements, or perhaps someone else wrote this letter altogether:

For the past 5 weeks, I have been waking up at 3:50 a.m. to catch the # 2 bus out of Har Nof to the Kotel. I enjoy davening by the neitz at the Kotel HaKatan in the Moslem quarter. It is peaceful, quiet, and yes, even though I am totally alone – it IS safe. I have never been bothered by the Arabs there in that area.

On several occasions, both men and women have stopped by my seat and asked me to move to the back of the bus. I have politely – and firmly – refused this “invitation”. This is not a Mehadrin bus and there are no signs indicating that it is. It is, rather, the arbitrary decision reached without due process by a group that claims it is “the majority” to render the # 2 bus a Mehadrin bus. I checked with Egged – it is not.
After a few weeks, other women decided that they, too, do not enjoy sitting in the back and sat down next to me or behind me. These women were verbally bullied by the other passengers to move to the back. All of them caved. However, 1 woman who had been literally picked up by 2 other women and moved to the back of the bus, came back a few days later, took a seat behind me and adamantly refused to move when beckoned to move to the back. Another woman later sat next to her but moved when other women loudly demanded that she moved. In the meantime, they were leaving me alone and I became somewhat confident that they would continue to leave me alone.

But . . . .Last Friday morning, November 24th, I took my makom kavua on the bus and did my usual thing of just looking out the window. A few stops later, a man who is regularly on this bus, stopped at my seat and said, “I want to sit here. Please move to the back of the bus”. I smiled and said, “I’m sorry, I’m not moving but there are 2 seats in front of me, 1 across the aisle – you can sit there”. He refused and demanded MY seat.

I was somewhat amused at this childish and arrogant behavior but told him again, politely and quietly, that I am not moving and that if he really, really wants to sit here, he could even sit in the empty seat next to me. But – I’m not moving. This man stared at me for about 10 straight seconds and then spat in my face. Without missing a beat, I jumped up, called him a son-of-a-bitch, and spat back at him. This brought screams from the women calling me a crazy woman. He responded to my response with a push in the face and a punch to the breasts that sent me flying on to the floor. I jumped up and punched him back. At this point, no fewer than 4 other men jumped up – not to defend ME – but to ATTACK me by punching, hitting, slapping, and kicking me to the floor. I was fighting back the whole time but was no match for 4 men in such cramped quarters. I finally got enough aim to kick one man in the privates and he went limping back to his seat in unmistakable agony. (Yes, I DO smile every time I think about it in the aftermath).

But, in the meantime, the “holy” man sat in my seat and had discarded my bag onto the middle of the aisle. I went after him again, demanding my seat back. He spat at me which evoked the same response from me. My snood had come off my head during this scuffle so I knelt down to the floor to find it and the “holy” man kicked me in the face. The kick was so strong that the dirty outline of his shoe could be seen on my right cheek. Within a short amount of time my cheek began to swell and it took no less that 4 Ibuprofens over Shabbos to keep the swelling and the pain down. At the time of the kick, however, I felt no pain – only rage, equally distributed between the Chillul Hashem and the perversion of what some of these Chareidim call “kedusha”.

I kicked him back, grabbed his black hat and threw it down the aisle. It was handed back up to him but I grabbed it again, turned it upside down and spat into it. It was grabbed from me and I yelled that he would not get his hat back until I got my snood back. Someone passed up a knitted beret, I said “Todah”, and put it on my head. I went back to demanding my seat back but he stared straight ahead, refusing to move. He was being protected by one particular man who held both poles between the seats to block my access.By this time you are most likely asking:

What was the bus driver doing during all this? What about the other passengers? Answer: NOTHING!!!! Other than 4 men protecting him by beating, kicking, punching, slapping me – not one person on the bus came to my assistance. In fact, the women were screaming at me that this was MY fault because “you don’t know your place, you stupid American”. The wheels on the bus kept rolling along as the bus driver never once stopped the bus or got on his PA to demand order. HOWEVER – almost immediately after the initial spitting, kicking, and punching, 2 men – both secular and whom I’ve never seen on that bus before – got on the bus with 2 large video cameras and filmed the “activities”.While catching my breath and regaining my strength, I looked around at me and saw men sitting there with their noses in their siddurim as if a woman being beaten and kicked was normal. I began yelling at them: “Is this the Chareidi way of life??? How can you sit there with your noses in your siddurim while a Jewish woman is being beaten and kicked and spat in the face??? Do you think your tefillahs are being answered while you sit there and DO NOTHING????!!! Your tefillahs are being flushed bittul – how can you stand before the Ribbono Shel Olam at the Kotel this morning and expect that Hashem will hear you???? What is wrong with you people???”

And then, I turned to the women: “And – you women! – you let a Jewish woman be treated this way and you say and do NOTHING – ABSOLUTLEY NOTHING! – to help her? Last week it was your trash cans they burned, soon it will be your homes and then it will be you. These men will treat you worse than the Arabs treat their wives and daughters – You are MAKING A HUGE MISTAKE!!! What are you worried about – that if you speak up your daughter won’t get a shidduch??? Well – you’ve perverted the whole thing. If you are wiling to condone this then you will get everything you deserve. You are just as bad as this rasha is!” I then told all of them – men and women – that they could take their Torah learning and their tefillahs and flush them down the toilet because they have learned NOTHING – ABSOLUTLEY NOTHING – and they are a perversion to everything that is kadosh.

Note: During the entire time I was being blocked in the human cage of 4 men, these holy men were pressed against every part of my body. I taunted them asking – “Ah – so this is more tzniut than me sitting there? Or is this really what you all wanted?” One of them actually replied: “Yes, this is more tzniut”. As we approached the Old City, I whispered to one of the camera men to get me the police. As one of them attempted to get off, he was blocked by the men and several of the men yelled at him in Hebrew to not get the police. He backed away.

However, when we got off the bus, I attempted to stay with the “holy man” who was cowardly trying to avoid me. I began yelling at the top of my lungs for the police, ran through security and a soldier and police man came and detained him. At this point a bunch of women came up to the police and the soldier and loudly started telling them that this was all my fault, that I had started it by refusing to move to the back of the bus. (Yes, I know, the Kafkaesque nature of it does not elude me either). However, the police and the soldier weren’t buying it and demanded that this man wait while they went to get a supervisor.

While waiting, an American woman came up to me and calmly asked me, “Why is it so important to you to sit there? We are the majority – we have decided that we want a separate seating bus.” I calmly responded: “Why is it so important to you that I NOT sit there? And who says you are the majority? If you are, then why not use the 2 choices available to you: 1) Petition Egged to make this a Mehadrin bus, or 2) Get your own private hasa’a. But until you succeed in doing either, this is a public bus and anybody can sit wherever they want. Now, let me ask you, is there really more kedusha in men beating, kicking, and spitting at a woman because she won’t give up her seat?” She never responded, she just looked down, shrugged, and walked away.

While waiting for the supervisor, several of the “holy” man’s friends surrounded him and quickly ran with him escorting him to the tunnel in the men’s section of the Kotel. I would not go into the men’s section of the Kotel so I waited there mistakenly thinking he had to go out from where he went in. I later learned that one can escape into the Moslem quarter via an exit. This was apparently what he did as the police came back and could not find him. In the meantime, the men with the video cameras showed the film to the police.And then, one brave soul . . . . .One of the men on the bus came up to me while I was standing with the police and said he would like to help me. He was thoroughly disgusted by what happened and he had witnessed the entire series of events. This man gave the police his name and phone number and offered to be a witness. He said he could not get up to help me because he was blocked by the men beating me and he was sure they would have all ganged up on him, too. Perhaps this is why the bus driver did not stop. I don’t know. But, the bus driver did not summon the police at the Kotel, either. Yes – he was wearing a kippa, the black velvet kind.The witness offered to get me a doctor as my face was red and starting to swell but I declined his kind offer and wished him a good Shabbos. The police advised me to make a report at the Old City Police Station (Kishlei) inside Sha’ar Yaffo which I did at 9 a.m. with the commander, Yoram.

And, Sunday morning, November 26 I was back on the # 2 bus in my makom kavua. Curiously missing was the “holy” man and his defenders. And nobody asked me to go to the back of the bus.

Miriam Shear [ed.note: unverified signature]

P.S. I have sent an email to Egged filing a formal complaint. I am asking that the # 2 bus not be granted Mehadrin status as I feel that this privilege has been nullified by the actions and inactions of the # 2 passengers. And YES – you may print this, post it on your web site, forward it, do with it as you please. Covering up what we are afraid will be a Chillul Hashem will not rein in such evil – only exposure. Violence against one’s fellow Jews should have a very, very heavy cost until it is no longer “acceptable”.

The above letter has appeared all over the internet. As I said, I have not verified its authorship.

There are some very rough and despicable men in the charedi community, no doubt about it, yet I still wonder whether the incident on the #2 bus unfolded exactly as it was reported in the media.

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61 Responses

  1. Moishe Potemkin says:

    “Moshe called one of them a rasha.”

    Actually, the Torah refers to him as a rasha – it’s not Moshe, although presumably he would have agreed with the characterisation.

  2. Toby Katz says:

    Yoni wrote:

    “al pi halacha dina d’malchusa dina. They are as bound by the law as everyone else and if they don’t agree they are absolute reshoim.”

    Shimon wrote:

    “And, like it or not, many chareidim – especially those on “znius police” squads hold nothing of this government. It doesnt have the power of dina dimalchusa dina.”

    Shimon also wrote:

    “It’s a well known idea of none other than the Chazon Ish that dina dimalchusa dina does not apply to a non-Torah approach in EY. …The CI is not a rasha, obviously. These Yerushalmim have poskim on their side. You can disagree, but dont call their following a psak of their gedolei haposkim “reshaim”.


    I think dina demalchusas dina is a distraction here. Beating people up or destroying property by pouring bleach on women’s clothes — these things are forbidden by Torah law. If you “hold nothing of the government” you are permitted to steal and beat people up? I don’t think so.

    Shimon is right in one detail — you can’t call a person a rasha just because he holds that dina demalchusa dina doesn’t apply in E’Y.

    But people who hold that since they don’t recognize the Israeli government, therefore assault and battery are permitted — of course such people are reshaim!

    The source for this is Rashi on Shmos 2;13, where two Jews were fighting and Moshe called one of them a rasha. Rashi says the man was a rasha because he LIFTED HIS FIST TO STRIKE HIS FELLOW. He was ABOUT to hit him — he had not done so yet — and that already made him a rasha.

    So I don’t think you can say that the men on the bus who committed several acts of violence were just innocent “Yerushalmim who follow the Chazon Ish.” They were reshaim, at least according to Moshe Rabeinu and Rashi.

  3. Zev says:

    “They should receive 39 lashes and pay damages.”

    Only if there were eidim (witnesses), which so far have not come forth. As things stand, there is nothing to go on but Mrs. Shear’s own account.

  4. Toby Katz says:

    Shimon wrote:

    “Why should they be in jail? Is that the Torah answer to this crime? Is that the halachic answer?”

    You are right. They should not be in jail. They should receive 39 lashes and pay damages.

  5. Shimon says:

    Yoni – i dont have the source in front of me but its a well known idea of none other than the chazon ish that dia dimalchusa dina does not apply to a nontorah approach in EY. There are many bigger talmidei chachomim that i that frequent this list and i am sure they can give you the exact source (and everyone who disagrees). The CI is not a rasha, obviously. These yerushalmim have poskim on their side. You can disagree, but dont call their following a psak of their gedolei haposkim “reshaim”. Actually, since you called them reshaim in a public forum, I would like a source for that – someone who doesnt follow the laws of the land of israel is a rasha bc of dina dimalchusa dina. without a source your simply being megana many indivuduals and whole communities. thats not so nice, is it?

  6. HILLEL says:

    To Menachem Lipkin:

    Menachem, there is an exception to every rule, and this is definitely an exception.

    Gabe Klein is just expressing what many of us–perhaps the majority–think about this situation.

    A reasonable person knows when to insist on her rights and when to yield to avoid unnecessary unpleasantness. By her spiteful response to the request of the majority of people on the bus that she join the women in the back, Mrs. Shear demonstrated that she is not a reasonable person–that she prefers confrontation to accomodation.

    Every morning, we pray that we will not run into unreasonable and difficult people– a PeGa Ra!

  7. dovid says:

    [Dovid wrote to object to the offensive language used in an earlier comment. That earlier comment has since been removed. –TK]

  8. Yoni says:

    Shimmon, al pi halacha dina d’malchusa dina. They are as bound by the law as everyone else and if they don’t agree they are absolute reshoim. This law does not violate any other laws in torah so there is nothing to nulify it or say that we should object. Killing us is one thing, simple civil matters are something else entirely. We are required to obay the laws of the land (at least when they are not murderous laws, or laws specificaly calculated to otherwise destory us, which these clearly are not). This means that in the absense of our own authoritative criminal courts we are to rely on the courts of the nation we are in. The objection to taking a jew to a non-jewish court only applied to the religiously based courts, which these are not. (and if you don’t beleive me rashi clearly implies it in the first aliya of this weeks portion.)

  9. Menachem Lipkin says:

    From Cross Currents “Comments and Tips” page:

    “In order to be considered for publication, comments must be on-topic, polite, and address ideas rather than personalities.”

    [I removed the offending comment — TK]

  10. HILLEL says:

    To Mordechai and Toby:

    With all due respect, here we see one of the problems with the Internet.

    It is a leveling medium. Like Communism and Socialism, it pretends that all people and all ideas have equal currency. That is not true in the real world.

    In the real world, there are great Torah sages who are many orders of magnitude superior in wisdom then we are. The fact that we can write whatever we please about whomever we please does not change the reality.

  11. Shimon says:

    Why should they be in jail? Is that the Torah answer to this crime? Is that the halachci answer? Or is that the answer of this israeli government? Were you as backing of this government when they threw our brothers and sisters out of their homes in gaza? Were you so supportive of this givernments ideas when they bashed our brothers and sisters heads in amona? This government only means something if you “hold” of it – otherwise its like the any foreign goverment. And, like it or not, many chareidim – especially those on “znius police” squads hold nothing of this government. It doesnt have the power of dina dimalchusa dina. It doesnt have the power of the jewish people. It certainly doesnt have the power of the torah or halacha. Its just a police state :)