Daily Israel Report

Prayer Rally or Demonstration of Hate?

While official organizers of today's 'million man march' claim it's a prayer rally, hareidi newspaper headline shows otherwise.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 3/2/2014, 11:35 AM

Can't we all just get along? (illustrative)
Can't we all just get along? (illustrative)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The "million man march" against the hareidi draft commencing in Jerusalem on Sunday is being touted as a "prayer rally" by the official organizers, but hareidi media statements against Minister Yair Lapid and the Yesh Atid party express hatred and contempt. A newspaper headline spitting fire at Religious Zionism has indicated to some that part of the hate is being directed against that sector as well. 

Eliezer Rauchberger, one of the organizers, told Army Radio Sunday that the rally is expected to "be the biggest event ever seen in the State of Israel."

Comparing it to the "social protests" in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem throughout 2011 and 2012, Rauchberger claimed that a "huge public is preparing to come to Jerusalem" and that "of the hareidi community, there will be no one from the Golan to Eilat who will not be at the demonstration."  

Rauchberger emphasized that prayer is not a political rally repeatedly throughout the interview. While the intent of the organizers to prevent further political snafus may be true and well-intended, and hareidi Radio Kol Hai is promoting a peaceful rally, at least one major hareidi newspaper has used the opportunity to unleash another wave of hatred against the Religious-Zionist community. 

Major hareidi newspaper Yated Ne'eman headlined Sunday morning with Saturday night's interview with Rabbi Haim Druckman, seen by many as a major leader in the Religious Zionist community in Israel. The paper reprinted the interview, however, with a twist: it omitted Rabbi Druckman's Rabbinic title, which it has done before, and called his statements expressing shock at the hate undermining much of the statements about the rally as "an interview without shame." 

The major newspaper then describes the calls of Rabbi Druckman, Economics Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home), and Rabbis from the Tzohar organization to ease the hareidi community into a more mainstream role in Israeli society their "Desperate Appeal," noting that all these "exploit and distort the laws of the Holy Torah." 

There have been other examples of hareidi incitement against the Religious Zionist community recently, in light of Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked's serving as head of the committee that proposed the draft law. Religious Zionist leaders have been warned to stay away from the rally; hareidi leaders have spit fire at the Religious Zionist leadership; and an incitement campaign against Naftali Bennett, who leads the Jewish Home party that is seen as politically representing the Religious Zionist public, has been initiated depicting the MK as a Nazi burning Torah scrolls. 

On the other hand, there is sympathy with some of the goals of the demonstration. Rabbi Zalman Melamed, head of the Religious Zionist Beit El yeshiva, said Saturday that he is "waiting for an announcement from the hareidi representatives, saying they want us and treating us properly" before attending Sunday's rally. Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu of Tsfat and Rabbi Yaakov Shapira of Merkaz Harav yeshiva, both Religious Zionists, have said they support the rally and its aim of defending Torah study.

Hareidi leaders have compared the backlash against the draft to resistance against Nazi Germany, political uprisings in the Ukraine, a "fight to the death" for Torah values, and the struggle against the ancient Persians in the Purim story.

At least one Hassidic sect has threatened to flee Israel en masse if the draft law is ratified, and a boycott has even been threatened against Judea and Samaria in "retaliation" against the Religious Zionist community.