Haredi Yeshiva Students Who Stoned Lesbian Teen Are Not True Haredim, Haredi Activist Says
"I have no idea if the stone-throwers from last week could be defined as haredim, but their behavior proves that they do not act according to the laws of the Torah. The teenagers acted they way they did despite the education they received, not because of it."
Haredim stoning police in Mea Shearim, July 2011
In Ynet, Ricki Sitton, the director of the Havruta Project, a haredi nonprofit that says its goal is to bring Jews from all segments of society closer together, writes about the group of what were reportedly haredi yeshiva students who stoned a 17-year-old lesbian girl in a bedroom suburb of Tel Aviv.
The girl was walking down a public, a street she regularly walks on, when she was attacked by the yeshiva students because, to them, she looked like a lesbian.
Stitton uses the despicable "no true Scotsman fallacy" to argue that the yeshiva students did what they did in spite of their haredi education, not because of it:
…I have no idea if the stone-throwers from last week could be defined as haredim, but their behavior proves that they do not act according to the laws of the Torah. The teenagers acted they way they did despite the education they received, not because of it.
An ultra-Orthodox teen is not even supposed to look at a woman or teenage girl - haredi or secular. A haredi teenager is not supposed to know what a lesbian looks like or hurt anyone, for any reason. This is not a mitzvah, it is an offense. If there is one place in the world where children are still taught to honor and care for the other – it is the ultra-Orthodox education system.
We are accused of offering "closed, purist education," but any mother would want the level of violence in public schools to be as low as the level of violence in the ultra-Orthodox schools and that the use of drugs and alcohol consumption would also drop (drugs use and drinking are nonexistent in haredi schools).
I have the privilege of heading a project that is about loving all Jews, regardless of their politics or personal inclinations. In this framework, a direct connection has been formed between haredi and secular women, who talk on the phone to learn about each other and discuss Jewish cultural texts. These phone conversations will hopefully bring about the realization that despite the disputes, we are all connected in a courageous, deep-rooted and natural bond.
In my building in Bnei Brak live yeshiva students, secular students, new olim and a man with various inclinations, and yet we all get along great. Not one stone has been thrown at a passing car on Shabbat. There is mutual respect between everyone, and we live, more or less, according to the divine edict v'ahavta l'reacha kamocha ("love your fellow as you do yourself"), which is one of the Torah's basic principles.
That for decades stones are thrown on a near-weekly basis by haredim at secular Jews on the border of Jerusalem's largest haredi community and the secular community which borders it and suffers from it seems to escape Sitton.
That haredi Knesset Members – especially Rabbi Yisroel Eichler of the United Torah Judaism party – regularly hurl slurs and insults at their secular colleagues also escapes her, even though Eichler's slurs are extremely well publicized, especially by the haredi press who supports him and which supports his hurling of them.
Haredi demonstrations regularly feature scenes of haredi rioters screaming "Nazi" at Israeli police. Police are stoned, the media is sometimes stoned.
Two weeks ago, a group of Zionist Orthodox high school students wearing IDF preparatory uniforms on their way to visit a hasidic rebbe in Mea Shearim were attacked by haredim who threw dirty diapers and garbage on them as they screamed slurs at the kids.
Women are attacked by haredim on public buses because they refuse gender segregate. They are called "whores," "sluts," and "shiksas." They are spit at and sometimes pushed, punched and kicked.
Last year a woman and her small baby were stoned by haredim in Beit Shemesh, and by now most of know the story of the little Modern Orthodox grade school girls who here called "whores" and "shiksas" by mobs of haredim men who literally chased these little girls down the street adjacent to their school as the girls screamed in terror.
There are decades full of evidence of the worst slurs and violence coming from yeshiva educated haredim directed at secular Jews and Zionist Orthodox Jews.
But there is no commensurate record of haredi rabbis condemning this violence and working to ostracize the the haredi rabbis who endorse it.
Most haredim are not violent and most probably won't spit on or hurl slurs at a woman riding a bus. But they will, almost to a person, stay publicly silent about those haredim who do these things and who are violent.
Like it or not, Sitton, this is your Torah.
If you don't like what you see, change it – but not by lying about what much of haredi education really is.
Change it by changing that haredi education and by working to remove from power the rabbis and haredi community leaders who allow this violence to go on, or who endorse it.
But you won't do that because doing it takes real courage, and because doing so takes admitting that the problems we all see (and which you attempt to deny) come from within the haredi world, not from outside it.
And that is something that is too terrible for you to admit.