Haredim Rioting in Israel

The entire world has watched — some with glee, some with sadness — as the Haredim, the ultra-Orthodox, have rioted in various Israeli cities, the most notable in Jerusalem.

The “black coats” and “black hats” did not have to get permits from the police to hold their demonstrations.

They are not just protesting; they are also beating people indiscriminately. A woman

who was just trying to get home was attacked by Haredim, roughed up, and hit again and again. Remember, Haredim are not supposed to touch women outside their family.

I believe an explanation is needed so you can understand what your brethren are doing.

The police arrested 26 Haredim on charges of sexual harassment and even rape of women and young girls in their community. But that was not the reason for the rioting. Their anger winds around the attempt of the Israel Defense Forces to draft Haredi 18-year-olds into active duty.

If those individuals choose, they can take their draft notices to an office of the IDF and explain why they cannot go into service. If they show they are studying, the army gives them an exemption.

The problem is with Haredim who have draft notices sent to their homes. They tear them up or act as if they never came. When that occurs, the IDF has to go after them. When caught, those Haredim are arrested and incarcerated for a certain period.

The purpose of the rioting is to make it clear that the IDF are Nazis and satanic and on and on.

The sad part is that no one in the government, from Benjamin Netanyahu on down, utters a word. The governing coalition has to be preserved because the Haredim are in the Knesset and even in the Cabinet. Votes are more important than rioting.

The normal Israeli looks on these demonstrations as political chicanery in which “this crowd” is flexing its muscles. Frequently, Haredim need time off from Pesach preparations, and this is a way to blow off steam. Currently, the police are doing nothing.

Do the actions of your fellow Jews bother you? Write to Netanyahu and tell him how horrible these so-called religious Jews look. Maybe if world Jewry gets angry, something will be done. Israelis like myself have their hands tied.

Only the politicians can act, but they are afraid of upsetting the Haredi apple cart.

These individuals are representing Israel in the world media — what a shame. Israel is trying to be a decent, ethical country. The black hats are destroying our image.

— David Geffen, Jerusalem

Rabbis, Focus on the Word

A recent rabbinic convention in Atlanta focused on “being a rabbi in turbulent times.” When were times not turbulent?

The Holocaust, pogroms, inquisitions, Assyria, Persia, Rome. Pharaoh, Haman, Hitler and others, may their names be erased. No community is immune, as we remember the lynching of Leo Frank and the Temple bombing.

Our rabbis have more training in Torah than in politics and know that all the answers are in the Good Book. For personal peace and serenity, I suggest they focus on and follow the advice that G-d gave to Noah when he was facing turbulent times: “Come to the Teva” (Genesis 7:1).

Teva is commonly translated as ark but can also mean word. Our Sages have suggested that the lesson for us during these (perpetually) turbulent times is to come to the word, G-d’s word. For healthy living, it was a timely message then as it is for us today.

— Avraham Mendel, Marietta

Socialists Condemn Threats

On behalf of the Socialist Workers Party in Georgia, I am writing to add our voice to protest the wave of bomb threats and violence against Jewish community centers, synagogues, cemeteries and organizations, including the threat March 7 against the offices of the Anti-Defamation League in Atlanta.

We call on all working people and the unions to speak out against these and all acts of Jew-hatred taking place across the country. The scapegoating of Jews rears its ugly head when the capitalist system is in crisis. It is used to try to keep people from seeing that the roots of the devastation bearing down on the working class — from worsening, unsafe conditions on the job to the inability of millions to obtain full-time, decent-paying work to the lack of health care, even worse in rural areas — stem from the deepening crisis of capitalism itself.

We condemn these anti-Jewish acts.

Across the country, Muslim and Jewish organizations have been reaching out the hand of solidarity to one another and raising money for the reconstruction of damaged cemeteries, synagogues and mosques. This is an example for the entire working class to emulate. An injury to one is an injury to all.

— Lisa Potash, Atlanta, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor

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