Ultra-Orthodox residents have expressed their objection to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plan to divide Beit Shemesh into two separate cities – one for haredim and the other for secular and religious residents. Members of the Sicarii gang explain that in such a case, they would prefer living under "secular rule," while the more moderate haredim fear a situation in which the zealots' violence will be directed at them due to the absence of other potential victims.
Haredim reject Beit Shemesh division plan
Member of extremist group tells Ynet Sikrikim prefer living under 'secular rule'; moderate haredi resident believes that 'without seculars, zealots will direct all their violence at us'
Kobi Nahshoni • Ynet
Ultra-Orthodox residents have expressed their objection to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plan to divide Beit Shemesh into two separate cities – one for haredim and the other for secular and religious residents.
Members of the Sikrikim (Sicarii) extremist group explain that in such a case, they would prefer living under "secular rule", while the moderate haredim fear a situation in which the zealots' violence will be directed at them due to the absence of any other potential victims.
Mendel, who defined himself as "anti-Zionist" and supports some of the recent acts of violence in the city, told Ynet that his community members don't really care about the religious or political affiliation of the government outside their own neighborhood, which they believe must be completely Orthodox.
He says the zealots prefer to see a secular person serve as the city's mayor, explaining that just like right-wing government made more political concessions – a haredi mayor fears public criticism and is therefore careful not to discriminate in favor of his sector and basically harms it.
According to Mendel, the natural separation between the different sectors – which each one living in its own neighborhood without running into the other – is sufficient and allows relaxed coexistence.
"The current situation on the ground is good for us," he explains. "The secular city lives on its own and we have no connection with its residents, apart from when we need to visit the National Insurance Institute or something of the kind. Even the transportation is separate.
"The conflict is only on the border area, where the national-religion received land for a school on our expense, but that's a specific problem. The entire separation discussion is theoretical and unjustified."
'Technical separation only'
The moderate haredim are not interested in separation either. Yitzhak (not his real name), who opposes the zealots and the recent acts of violence, explains that "the fact that this is a mixed city benefits all parties, including the seculars.
"Even if we do separate – it will only be a technical, not physical. After all, they won't evacuate people from their houses. The neighborhoods will remain at the same distance from each other and the jurisdiction is the only thing that will be different.
"In such a case, the situation will be much more difficult and our problems with the zealots will only become worse. Today it's safe to say that in some way, the seculars protect us from the zealots, because they also draw fire and fight it more than us.
"If we are left alone with the Sikrikim, they will direct all their force and obsessive thoughts at us. After all, these are bad people, who aim to cause damage and are just looking for places to unload their feelings."