Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

29 Kislev 5759, December 8, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly







Opinion & Comment
Were the Reports of Beit Shemesh Violence Exaggerated?

To the Editor:

I'm writing in reaction to your front-page report of 24 Kislev regarding " . . . anti-chareidi violence in Beit Shemesh." As a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh B', and an eyewitness to the events here on Shabbos Parsha Vayishlach (and similar events other Shabbosim), I take great issue with the way in which you have chosen to report on these unfortunate events. The report was at best highly exaggerated and at worst contained outright falsehoods which ultimately degrade the credibility of your newspaper.

Although the actions of the secularist demonstrators by coming and honking their horns etc. were highly provocative and disturbing, to call these actions "violence" is very questionable. To speak of a "pogrom" is extremely offensive for those who have some understanding of what that word actually means. I was present at the demonstration within 10- 15 minutes or so of the audible honking, until the area was virtually completely cleared an hour or so later. There was a lot of cursing and yelling between the demonstrators and counter-demonstrators. I even saw some spitting at each other, but the only weapons visible were those of the police.

It's true that lo ro'inu eino ra'aya, however given that the whole area of the demonstration was directly in my sight, I simply do not believe that, as you reported, "rioters beat passerby," or that one of them "took out a huge knife" and pursued people. At one point some of the neighbors here approached the police with something -- I couldn't see what it was -- that they said had been thrown at their house. Could be. The most physically violent episode that I saw was when police tried to arrest a counter-demonstrator -- I'm unsure why -- and the crowd of counter-demonstrators surrounded and pulled him away from the greatly outnumbered police. There was some shoving and pulling, some broken eyeglasses, vetu lo [midi].

The way that you have reported on these events was unprofessional, hysterically-toned, and merely fans the flames of hatred among Am Yisroel. I am in favor of principled, legislative action to close Nahar HaYarden Avenue (the disputed street) out of respect for Shabbos kodesh and the feelings of our community. We are a majority here, and in the end I believe the street will be closed. Let's make the truth our ally in this righteous cause, and report on events with accuracy and moderation. There is no mitzva leshanos mipnei hasin'a.

Thank you.


Yaacov Lefcoe

Ramat Beit Shemesh 'B'

The Editor Replies: Our original report was based on sources that we considered reliable, but it now seems that their description of events was exaggerated, as our reader points out.

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