Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

13 Teves 5764 - January 7, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Uncompromising Campaign Against Violent Group in Jerusalem
by A. Cohen

At an urgent gathering in Bnei Brak rabbonim and leading public figures from the chareidi community decided to launch an uncompromising campaign against a violent group from Jerusalem that has been committing frightful acts against gedolei Yisroel, shlita. Recently three members of the group attacked a prominent Jerusalem avreich, Rav M.B., beating him severely and even stabbing him with a knife, while he was learning at Beis Knesses Papa.

The meeting was held after it was learned the unruly group in Jerusalem is backed by certain elements within the Eida HaChareidis, which even directed very grave remarks against maranan verabonon the guiding lights of the entire Torah world, when one of their rabbonim made slanderous statements during a public gathering in Jerusalem. These derisive remarks, which have yet to be retracted, regularly serve the group to perpetrate acts of terror and to disseminate debased notices against maranan verabonon.

The group of thugs, which has been operating freely for years, directing physical and verbal violence against maranan verabonon gedolei hador and against the masses of Beis Yisroel who abide by their pronouncements. They foul the streets of the holy city of Jerusalem with highly offensive writings and have even entered botei knesses and botei medrash, removed books and burned them in the streets or trampled them in their botei medrash as in the darkest periods of history. Meanwhile not a word of dissent or condemnation has been heard from the ranks of the leadership of this particular tzibbur.

The recent meeting opened with a survey of the events and the remarks that were made by certain leading figures of that community. It was explained that the thugs are waging a systematic battle of shameful violence and scorn toward maranan verabonon and have stopped at nothing to sully and humiliate, even spreading lies about maranan verabonon.

Based on the assumption that the public was not taking them seriously, maranan verabonon originally gave instructions not to respond, in order to avoid increasing the violence and the dissemination of new lies. However since then the group has escalated its violence.

One of the worst moments took place several months ago when HaRav Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman arrived to participate in a hachnosas sefer Torah for the Bnei Hayeshivos kehilloh of Sanhedria Murchevet. A small band of hooligans from the group burst onto the scene and even tried to ignite the car in which HaRav Shteinman was traveling. The arson attempt made tempers flare within the chareidi public and led the late Eida Chareidis Ravad, HaRav Y.Y. Fisher, to issue strong condemnations of the groups and its conduct at the event, saying, "Dos iz a gevaldige chutzpah." Meanwhile the Eida Chareidis organ justified their acts, referring to them as "the pure-minded of Jerusalem."

The speakers explained that the group, the identity of whose members is known, was also active several years ago in the gravesite problems in Pisgat Ze'ev, demonstrating terrible violence toward gedolei haposkim. The conflict ceased only after Yated Ne'eman took the highly unusual step of revealing the entire chain of events of the scandal in detail, including the names of those involved. Only then did this band stop its lowly behavior. Stories that were spread in chutz la'aretz were finally halted when the English edition of Yated prepared a special article explaining the issues involved, including extensive pictures of the locations.

The group employs several means of showing contempt for maranan verabonon, such as a special mudslinging weekly bulletin, distributed for free in mailboxes, filled with horrific lies that go to new extremes every week, and base posters regularly distributed throughout Jerusalem, as well as other reprehensible deeds unfit for print.

They have caught several yeshiva students in their web, enticing them to leave the Torah and yeshiva world to join them. One of these young men, A.Z., was thrown out of a prestigious yeshiva where he studied after he was caught with libelous writings against maranan verabonon in his possession.

According to reports police believe the group was also responsible for an arson attack on the Jerusalem branch of Degel HaTorah.

A group of avreichim, deeply disturbed by the writings appearing periodically on the walls of buildings in a small section of the city, decided to take action. Two prominent avreichim talmidei chachomim, Rav M.B. and Rav A.H.A., found themselves walking around between sedorim carrying buckets of paint to cover the offensive notices.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, the 28th of Adar Beis, the two walked to kollel through Meah Shearim, intending to cover over shocking writings there against gedolei Yisroel. While they were at work, A.Z. appeared on the scene and tried to interfere by pushing and acting violently toward one of the avreichim. The other avreich pressed A.Z. up against the wall whereupon A.Z. pretended to fall to the ground, apparently as part of a prearranged scheme. Meanwhile one of the heads of the band who is in charge of printing its posters was watching from a nearby apartment and photographed the confrontation. Within days the city was plastered with posters under the heading, "Nachal Stormtroopers in Action -- Murder in Open Daylight in Meah Shearim." A picture caption read, "The lowly murderers sadistically kicking the victim's body and legs." The poster even listed the names and addresses of the two avreichim, along with their pictures and the words, "Jerusalem, to war against these cursed murderers." Afterwards the two avreichim began to receive death threats by phone and other disturbances day and night, in the most crude and vulgar language.

Later the neighborhood of one of the two avreichim was inundated with posters too repugnant to print. The matter was reported to the police based on an explicit heter by one of the rabbonim from the Eida Chareidis. Following talks, the complaint with the police was withdrawn when a promise was made that the campaign would cease. But soon afterwards one of the avreichim was brutally beaten by the band of thugs, who attacked him while he was sitting and learning in a beis medrash. The chareidi world was shocked to hear that the group had resorted to violence in order to impose its distorted views on the public.

Immediately afterward the incident was reported to the Eida Chareidis Beis Din, which unfortunately took no action. Subsequently HaRav Nissim Karelitz issued a directive to report the attack to the police. Eida Chareidis Ravad HaRav Moshe Shternbuch agreed with his directive. After the report was filed, police investigators contacted eyewitnesses to the beating, who then asked the Eida Chareidis Beis Din for permission to answer questions, but surprisingly the beis din instructed them not to testify. Other rabbonim and dayanim who were told about the Eida Chareidis decision expressed wonder since in the case of gavri alimi one is allowed to turn to the authorities to save the oppressed from his oppressor.

In fact, in an unrelated incident that took place last summer, the rabbonim of the Eida HaChareidis issued just such an order. In a letter dated 29 Tammuz, 5763, and signed by HaRav Moshe Shternbuch, Ravad, HaRav Moshe Halberstam, HaRav Meir Bransdorfer and HaRav Avrohom Yitzchok Ulman, under the heading, "Macho'oh Nimretzes," was written, in part, "Woe is us that this has happened in our days . . . that we should need to do this to prevent bloodshed in public . . . We hereby express our opinion, that whoever has any information . . . is obligation to inform the Israeli Police who can deal with this . . . "

Although the incident with Rav M.B. took place three weeks ago, rabbonim from the Eida Chareidis beis din continue to help cover up the acts committed under the guise of zealotry by individuals who do not belong to the Torah world, rather than urging eyewitnesses to cooperate with the police investigators.

HaRav Shteinman traveled to Jerusalem to pay a visit to the avreich, who is still being harassed, and to offer support and encouragement to him and his family.

At the conclusion of the background survey the participants made practical suggestions on the proper way to proceed. The speakers made piercing remarks, saying the vast majority of the chareidi public is wholly unaware of these grave acts and therefore their voices have yet to be heard in protest against the violence and the failure to contain it. The speakers also offered practical advice on how to strengthen the kashrus organizations the bnei Torah public trusts.

All of the speakers also expressed their opinions regarding the need to regularly publicize reports of grave acts being committed, allowing bnei Torah to come to the obvious conclusions in light of these incidents until they come to a complete stop.

At the end of the meeting the participants drew up a series of practical steps to be executed by a special committee composed of prominent chareidi askonim.

Participants at the meeting included, HaRav N. Zochovsky, one of the roshei yeshivos of Yeshivas Gaon Yaakov, HaRav C. Mishkovsky, spiritual director of Yeshivas Orchos Torah, HaRav E. Mann, one of the roshei yeshivos of Yeshivas Ohr Yisroel, HaRav Y. Silman, a dayan at HaRav Nissim Karelitz' beis din, HaRav T. Friedman, a member of the Shearis Yisroel Beis Din Tzedek and the rov of Bnei Brak's Ohr HaChaim neighborhood, HaRav B. Pinchasi, rosh yeshivas Bircas Efraim, and HaRav Yitzchok Levenstein, HaRav Shteinman's loyal assistant. HaRav Yosef Efrati also conveyed Maran HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv's firm support for the meeting and its objectives.

Many prominent public figures and askonim were also on hand (in alphabetical order): Rabbi Mordechai Blau, one of the heads of Toda'ah, Rabbi Menachem Blumental, a board member of Degel HaTorah's Jerusalem branch, Rabbi Tzvi Baumel, one of the heads of Chinuch Atzmai and the director of Toda'ah, Rabbi Chaim Braverman, Rabbi Chananya Cholek, chairman of Ezer MiTzion, Rabbi Yekusiel Dershowitz, director of Shearis Yisroel, Rabbi Moshe Frank, chairman of Degel HaTorah's Jerusalem branch, Rabbi Yisroel Friedman, editor of Yated Ne'eman's Musaf Shabbos Kodesh, Rabbi Yisroel Moshe Friedman, a member of the Bnei Brak City Council, MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni, Rabbi Shlomo Goldental, director of Degel HaTorah's Bureau of Public Inquiries, Rabbi Yaakov Gutterman, council head of Modi'in Illit, Rabbi Shlomo Huminer, a council member in Rechasim, Rabbi Yosef Levy, a member of the Jerusalem City Council, Rabbi Uri Maklev, deputy mayor of Jerusalem, Rabbi Ezriel Munk, secretary of Yated Ne'eman's Vaad Ruchani, Rabbi Yaakov Osher, deputy mayor and mayoral replacement of Bnei Brak, Rabbi Yitzchok Pindrus, mayor of Beitar Illit, Rabbi Avrohom Yeshayohu Karelitz, Rabbi Mordechai Karelitz, former Bnei Brak mayor, Rabbi Reuven Korlansky, Rabbi Binyomin Rabinowitz, MK Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz, Rabbi Avrohom Rubinstein, secretary of Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah and deputy mayor of Bnei Brak, Rabbi Boruch Rosenbloom, Rabbi Yaakov Rosenstein, Rabbi Michah Rothschild, chairman of the Association for the Prevention of Grave Desecration, Rabbi Eliezer Sorotzkin, director of Lev L'Achim, Rabbi Avrohom Tzvi Taub and Rabbi Yehuda Yabrov, secretary of Yated Ne'eman's Vaad Ruchani.


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