Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Sivan 5761 - June 6, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Ha'aretz's Blatantly Bigoted Reporting of the Dolphinarium Tragedy
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

Ha'aretz, Israel's left wing "intellectual" newspaper has a healthy respect for the truth. So much respect, in fact, that is saves it for special occasions, certainly none having anything to do with chareidim.

Here are two stories from Ha'aretz about burial of the non-Jewish victims of the tragic Dolphinarium terrorist attack. Note how the first story is presented as fact, although it is clear in retrospect that it was all based on unverified suppositions and does not meet minimal jouranalistic standards for verifying the facts.

Note that even in the second story, the correspondent doesn't have the slightest criticism of the newspaper's careless reporting and the headline-grabbing politicians. Who is at fault, according to him? The chareidim, of course, for their insistence that they keep their "monopoly" over burials. The truth is that it is not the chareidim who have lately prevented Tel Aviv from establishing a secular cemetery by the non-religious politicians who have been unwilling to allocate the necessary funds.

This story was filed by Ha'aretz on Shabbos:

Hevra Kaddisha Denies Jewish burial to Three Terror Victims

By Anat Cygielman and Yossi Verter, Ha'aretz Correspondents

Three of the victims killed in the suicide bomb attack on Friday night were refused burial in municipal cemeteries by the Chevra Kaddisha. The religious burial society is claiming that the three were born of mixed marriages -- a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother -- and therefore could not be buried in Jewish cemeteries.

"It is inconceivable that these children are good enough to be killed in suicide bombing attacks, yet cannot be given a proper burial," charged MK Sofa Landver (Labor). Landver helped the families find alternative burial solutions in kibbutzim, after accompanying immigrant families to body identifications at the Abu Kabir Pathology Institute in Jaffa yesterday.

Shinui party chair MK Yosef Lapid said that Islamic Jihad and the Chevra Kaddisha were cooperating in wounding the Russian immigrants. "Islamic Jihad strikes at the living, and the Chevra Kaddisha strikes at the dead," he raged.

The following story was filed on Sunday morning, after a little checking.

Chevra Kaddisha Never Refused to Bury Three Terror Victims

by Shahar Ilan, Ha'aretz Correspondent and Ha'aretz Service

At the Chevra Kaddisha (burial society) in Tel Aviv they were having a hard time understanding Saturday night how they could have issued a refusal to bury someone, during the Sabbath. "No one approached us and, anyway, we couldn't have refused," said Yehoshua Yishai, the director of the Tel Aviv chevra kaddisha, referring to reports that emerged in the course of Saturday that his organization was refusing to bury three victims of Friday's suicide bomb attack, because they were born of mixed marriages (a Jewish father and non- Jewish mother).

The Chevra Kaddisha has a special section in Tel Aviv's Kiryat Shaul cemetery for people whose Jewishness is uncertain.

So how exactly did the claim emerge that the Chevra Kaddisha was refusing to bury the three? The media got the information from Labor Knesset Member Sofa Landver. Because the information was broadcast on Shabbat, the Chevra Kaddisha was not aware of the reports and could not respond to them.

Landver says she first heard the claims from Tel Aviv municipality social workers. Based on the assumption that the Chevra Kaddisha would not be prepared to bury the three girls, Landver organized for them to be buried at Kibbutz Givat Brenner. "It is inconceivable that these children are good enough to be killed in suicide bombing attacks, yet cannot be given a proper burial," she charged.

But, once the Sabbath was out, every possible official in the religious establishment made it clear that appropriate solutions would be found for burying the victims. Landver sounded somewhat chastened Sunday morning, telling Israel Radio that based on past experience, she assumed there would be a burial problem and simply went ahead with plans to try and help the families.

Israel's Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Meir Lau, who strenuously denied the reports Saturday night, ordered the Chevra Kaddisha's rabbi to ask the families where they wanted to bury their children and to carry out the parents' wishes. Religious Affairs Minister Asher Ohana (Shas) issued a similar order to the Chevra Kaddisha.

Lau also accused Lapid of sowing hatred, while Ohana accused Lapid of "making political capital out of the tragic incident."

It appears that all those in charge of dealing with solutions to burial problems pertaining to non-Jews are religious. Unlike the treatment of the injured, which is considered a matter of pikuach nefesh, Jewish law does not define burial as a matter for which the Sabbath can be violated. At the Religious Ministry they are convinced that there was no systemic failure on their part. Burial issues, says Ohana, can wait until the Sabbath is over.

To a certain extent, the Religious Ministry and the Chevra Kaddisha paid a heavy public relations price on Saturday for their strenuous efforts to preserve the Orthodox monopoly on burial. Even though five years have passed since legislation was passed allowing for civil burials, there is still no secular cemetery in the greater Tel Aviv area. The only secular municipal cemetery is in Be'er Sheva, where it operates effectively.

If there was such a burial place in the Greater Tel Aviv area, no problem would have arisen Saturday and the religious establishment would not have suffered a PR blow.


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