Hundreds of hareidi Jews were demonstrating in Jerusalem Saturday night against what they said was the unfair treatment of them in the media over the past several weeks. Demonstrators heard speeches decrying what speakers said was the “defaming” of the hareidi community over the issue of exclusion of women from the public sphere, and expressed support for Shmuel Weisfish, head of the “Modesty Patrol” in Meah Shearim, who is supposed to begin serving a prison term Sunday.
Dozens of adults and children were wearing yellow stars with the word “Jude” on it – reminiscent of the Nazi era – while several children were wearing striped concentration camp uniforms. Demonstrators said that the intention was not to compare Israel to Nazi Germany, but to compare the anti-hareidi sentiment and incitement to the anti-Jewish incitement in Germany before the Holocaust.
Notices posted in Hareidi neighborhoods of Jerusalem this week accused the secular media of “trying to convict hareidim for the crime of keeping to standards of modesty and holiness, as required by Jewish law, such as on buses and outside synagogues where hundreds of people gather.”
Referring to the controversy over the Orot Girls School in Beit Shemesh, the notices said that the protesters were demonstrating “against the insistence of building a girls school for National Religious students in the heart of a hareidi neighborhood in Beit Shemesh, where the girls dress immodestly in a way that hurts the sensibilities of the residents, who paid good money to live far away from the sick secular society that persecutes those who fear G-d," said the notices posted in Jerusalem and hareidi areas of Beit Shemesh on Friday.
Dati Leumi [religious Zionsit] residents of Beith Shemesh - particularly the Givat Sharrett neighborhood where the Orot school is located - dispute the contentions of the hareidim that the school is in the "heart of a hareidi neighbothood," saying that it is actually adjacent to Dati Leumi neighborhoods, and that the hareidim are not interested in "modesty" so much as obtaining the building for their own institutions.
Reports said that a hareidi protester sprayed some tear gas in the direction of Channel 10 reporters who were covering the event. Large numbers of police began chasing a suspect, while protesters began throwing rocks at police. Police reportedly cornered him on a rooftop and were closing in to arrest him.
Photos: Flash 90