Friday, April 14, 2006

How in God's Name Can They Riot About This? 

Haaretz reports on a truly scandalous development:

Dozens of ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem residents demonstrated in the capital Friday, for the second day in a row, to protest the arrest of an ultra-Orthodox man suspected of killing his baby son, Israel Radio reported.

Protesters on Friday set trash cans ablaze on Thursday and Friday, blocking roads in the ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) Meah Shearim neighborhood. They also threw garbage and rocks at passing cars and screamed "Nazis" at police officers.
I'm trying to make sense of why men (I'm assuming it's men) so devoted to the service of Hashem would behave in such a horrible manner, and all in defense of an accused baby-killer. This is outrageous! The mind grasps for some excuse to try to make sense of the senseless. Perhaps they believe the man is innocent, only a suspect caught up in some so-called Nazi plot (Nazi = Israeli police in this case). But no, the suspect has confessed:

Yisrael Vales, 19, has admitted to slamming his 3-month-old son Rephael against a wall and attacking him numerous times, saying the baby wouldn't let him sleep. Rephael died Monday.
Unless they are incensed because they want their own Beit Din to impose the death penalty they'd better have a damned good explanation for this, and they'd better get it out there quickly, because they are tarnishing their image -- and sadly, by extension, the image of all religious Jews in the eyes of many -- with every garbage can they burn and stone they throw in defense of this scum.

And in fact it doesn't look like they are rioting for the right to impose their own justice:

Members of the ultra-Orthodox community have demanded Vales' release and threatened riots if he is kept in custody, despite the fact that he admitted beating the child.

The ultra-Orthodox Kol Hai radio station quoted sources as saying that "Jerusalem would burn" if Vales was not released, and members of the ultra-Orthodox community have been disseminating flyers threatening riots.

The flyers call on the community to "unite and protest against this blood libel" and declares the arrest to be an "evil conspiracy" devised by the "evil regime" against the "dear gentle young man." (against the "dear gentle young man" WHO CONFESSED to murdering his own infant)
There have been rabbinic calls for calm:

Rabbinical sages issued a statement calling on the protesters to refrain from violence and from burning trash on the street, Israel Radio said.
But it has been too little, too late. The damage is done, and more is threatened.

Again, if there is some misunderstanding here -- maybe the confession is by the wrong man, another man with the same name or some ridiculously unbelievable and unexpected travesty -- they'd best make that clear. But even if it is claimed that the rioters don't know of the confession, it means their leaders (not all rabbis, but those who stir up the crowds) are manipulating them while keeping the information from them -- which is also horrible.

In the meantime, I would ask the fine folks at Jewschool, who are also properly right on top of this, not to overreach in their conclusions, implying Orthodox JBloggers somehow condone baby-killing and sweep Haredi misdeeds under the rug, simply because they haven't posted about this yet. Please consider that many have been cleaning and doing seder, involved in holiday preparation and observance, and in fact, those in the US will even be unable to post anything on any subject at all until after Shabbat. This was the first I saw of it, and I'm sure I'm not alone. I know of absolutely no one -- NO ONE -- who would condone this, or wish to allow it to continue. While I appreciate and share your outrage, I don't think that charge was in any way warranted or productive, and I hope you'll reconsider on further reflection. I'd love to edit out this entire paragraph if it can be rendered irrelevant.

I think IsraellyCool has written about this much more clearly than I have, so I urge you to check out his post.


Ultra-Orthodox protesters on Sunday called off a mass rally over the continued incarceration of a man accused of murdering his infant son, Israel Radio reported.

The rally had been cancelled after rabbinical sages vetoed the protest, citing the heavy damage caused to major streets in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in the city.
I hope this is a sign that some sense of order and justice will be restored here.

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: