Tel Aviv-Yafo (Jaffa)'s Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau says he was shocked to see a photograph of a Jewish boy wearing a yellow star in last week's hareidi religious demonstration in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea Shearim.
Rabbi Lau told the Hebrew-language newspaper Ma'ariv in an interview that the hareidi public feels "persecuted," but that this feeling "in my opinion leads it to express itself in a way that borders on blasphemy. If you explain to secular Jews observance of the Sabbath through hurling rocks and shouts of "Nazi!" then first of all, they [themselves] are sinning by touching the rock -- which itself is forbidden on the Sabbath -- and you also destroy the tiniest chance that those who do not observe the Sabbath might begin to do so.
"The picture of the beautiful and innocent Orthodox child at a demonstration, raising his hands in surrender, wearing on his garment a yellow star, chased the sleep from my eyes that night," Rabbi Lau continued. "I am afraid for him, even for his faith. When this child will grow up and will realize what they did to him in his community, how they exploited his innocence, how they used him, he is likely to kick away the traditions of his father's house.
"For me, to stand a child up with his hands raised in surrender in imitation of that famous photograph from the Warsaw Ghetto distorts history and shows incomparable ingratitude to the Master of the Universe, who gave us the Jewish State that did not exist when that original photo was taken," he added. "The significance of the act is simply to ignore the kindness of the Creator Who tells you, you aren't standing today before Nazis who are coming to destroy you. Today you have a country, you have a home, and the police are coming to defend every Jew, even if he demonstrates in the streets of Jerusalem.
"How can you compare Jews to a Nazi who was able to throw a baby into a frying pan on a burning Primus stove?" Rabbi Lau demanded. "And I am talking about things I saw with my own eyes. Or a Nazi who could take a child similar to the one who participated in that demonstration and tear him apart? Those who demonstrated "Nazis! Nazis!" -- including the "price tag" demonstrators who attacked the IDF officers -- don't know what a Nazi monster is and to what depths he can reach."
Rabbi Lau said he believes there should be deterrents and enforcement of the law when anyone uses symbols of the Holocaust. "Shouts of 'Nazi' at Jews -- not to mention photos of things like that child -- cause us, the survivors, insomnia and nightmares," he said.