Near-Riot In Beit Shemesh Between Haredim And Opponents Over Memorial Day Ceremony
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
A public Yom Hazikoron (Memorial Day) ceremony today in Beit Shemesh was disrupted by haredim, leading to violence, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The ceremony reportedly took place at the Resido traffic circle – a site allegedly chosen by police – which also happens to be the border of the haredi neighborhood of Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet and the Zionist Orthodox neighborhood of Sheinfeld.
During the ceremony a haredi man began waving a Palestinian flag, prompting several men to chase him and pelt him with sticks.
Police reportedly intervened and stopped the men, but at the same time officers chased down the haredi man, who had fled into a nearby yeshiva study hall. This prompted haredim to begin screaming that the “zionists” should get out of their haredi neighborhood, and other haredim began equating secular Jewish neighbors to Nazis.
Zionists participating in the Yom HaZikaron commemoration are “worse than Nazis,” one haredi man reportedly said, because the Nazis “were born that way.” Jews, he insisted, should know better.
A Zionist-Orthodox soldier confronted that haredi man. Your Torah study protects me, the soldier said. Will you accept that my army service also protects you?
The haredi man refused to accept that the soldier’s army service provided any protection at all. The soldier reportedly responded by screaming that the haredi man is “garbage.”
Secular and Zionist Orthodox participants had to be escorted to their cars by riot police, while haredim screamed and hurled insults at them from nearby apartment balconies.
Former Member of Knesset Rabbi Dov Lipman, a moderate haredi rabbi originally from the US who lives in Beit Shemesh in the Sheinfeld neighborhood, said he opposed holding the commemoration at that location or at another spot nearby originally chosen by organizers at which a haredi soldier had been harassed by a haredi mob last week.
“I am 100 percent against it. We have restored quiet to our neighborhood and children of the neighborhood walk in uniform all the time with no issues. There is no reason to do this event there other than a provocation and I have begged [the organizer] Richard Peres not to come to our neighborhood to do this. I don't think this is the day or place for it and for all the official statements of ‘why can't we do a memorial for soldiers whenever and wherever we want,’ his goal is a provocation and I am against it,” Lipman wrote in a statement.
While the haredim committing violence or openly deriding events like the Yom HaZikaron commemoration are considered to be extremists, so-called mainstream haredi rabbinic leaders rarely condemn them publicly – allegedly because they fear being attacked.