Others, like Life In Israel and Torat Yisrael, have already opined on the most recent series of Haredi hafganoth (protests) in Jerusalem.
I will stipulate [for now] that the Haredim were wrong. On the surface, from what I can gather, the reaction was completely over the top. However, I will take the opportunity to use this case to comment on two important, related issues.
Israeli News Media
When I initially hear a report from the likes of Yedioth Aharonoth ("Idiot Aharonoth"), HaAretz ("Am HaAretz"), Ma'ariv ("Ma'aravi"), and YES, the Jerusalem Post ("Palestinian Post") say anything about Haredim, I have to assume that it is not true, or at the very least, a highly distorted depiction of what is actually happening.
Even the Jerusalem Post, I must treat with suspicion. This so-called right-wing (right of center when convenient) paper has no love for Haredim nor "overly zealous settlers" (Translation: Those who place Torah before the almighty state are subversives).
Israeli "mainstream" radio is just as bad, if not worse. For example, when another case of alleged child abuse popped up, this time in Ramath Beth Shemesh, was it really necessary to spend a half hour on the topic "This is what happens when Jews are hozrei b'tshuvah" (return to religion)? In other words, the radio commentators snatched up the opportunity to bash the religious, and to differentiate between the Haredim and Datti'im Le'umim (national religious), attempting to wide the split between these religious communities ("divide and conquer").
Fortunately, we have bloggers, who travel outside the realm of mainstream media, and what is politically-correct, in search of the truth. The two I mention above, I happen to know to be relatively objective when it comes to Haredim. Therefore, I listen to them
Of course, in this particular case when a representative of the Haredi United Torah Judaism Party [UTJ] himself is quoted by Arutz 7 (Israel National News), I can also start placing validity onto such a controversial story:
Another UTJ politician, Jerusalem Council member Shlomo Rosenstein, supported Barkat. “The mayor can't be expected to put his workers in danger in order to provide services. Or should the workers come in tanks?” Rosenstein asked.
“I respect the right to protest and demonstrate, but the damage done to city property and to companies like Egged [buses] only hurts those of us who live in these neighborhoods,” he said.
Israeli Social Services
Whenever I hear that a social worker, working for the Israeli government, is involved in a case of child abuse, domestic abuse, or senior abuse, I am also automatically suspicious, not just as a Torah-observant man, but as a mental health professional.
While living in the Shomron (Samaria), I came across several cases of divorce occurring, certainly not so unusual, unfortunate, but not unusual.
In each of these cases, the following series of events occurred:
1. Wife seeks counseling from the hiloni (secular) social worker.
2. Wife begins to go off the derekh (cease Torah observance).
3. Marriage ends in nasty divorce.
4. Wife leaves the yishuv (secular) to lead a secular life, with her wallet fillet, and the children confused.
How many of these cases have there been? The better question is how many cases like these have there been since the social worker was replaced. None. No divorces at all, in fact.
But that's just one example of the damage done by the traditionally super-leftist, secular social workers in Israel.
Neighbors of mine were threatened with There were no accusations of abuse nor neglect of the children, no accusations of domestic disputes. Nope. The only factor presented by the social worker was that she didn't think the family was providing an appropriate environment for their three-year old. You see, the oldest son [of eight] had been arrested for protesting the destruction of Jewish homes in the Shomron. The oldest daughter was in prison, awaiting trial for "Anti-Disengagement" protests (Translation She's dangerous*).
In the eyes of the social worker, political and religious views were what deemed this family's child-rearing environment to be "inappropriate," not evidence or facts.
When I was in graduate school, a course in "Cross-cultural Counseling" was a requirement. I'm only guessing, of course, but such courses here in Israel probably only emphasize Arab, Bedouin, and Druze cultures.
Studies in Haredi or Givani (hilltop) culture would be considered unnecessary. After all, social work students are already proficient in anthropology, and are familiar enough with primitive humanoid cultures.
Are you laughing? Would you like to know how many Haredim friends of mine have been called primitivi on the streets of Jerusalem? What about hilltop kids being referred to as rif-raf,...or worse? Let's just say a lot.
This is the prevailing attitude of the cultural elite in this country. Western and progressive are good. Torah-observance is nothing less than superstition run wild, and is only for the small-minded.
The social workers are their front line soldiers, battling such "primitive" ideation at every turn, paving the way for future indoctrination into secular, Israeli (undying state loyalist) society.
In my yishuv, there was a nickname for such social workers, well-before I arrived: Feminutsies.
Yep. It is a pretty disgusting term. No arguments there.
That's because it's pretty disgusting what they do.
Fortunately, there are some women, religious and traditional, who are there to do [secretive] damage control. In other words, there are some good social workers out there, but they are few and far between.
The Haredi response to the investigation into alleged child abuse may have been way over the top. But, what is of no surprise and perfectly understandable is the Haredi suspicion of government representatives coming to "investigate" a concern of social services.
1. From Charedim.co.il:
(Tip Credit: Jameel @ The Muqata)
"לסיכום, נראה כי הילד סבל במשך השנה האחרונה מ... (פירוט שם המחלה), אשר נמצאת לקראת סיומה, אך תוצאות של המחלה הארוכה הן ירידה קשה במשקל ומצב תת תזונה קשה".
In summary, it appears that the child has been suffering during the last year from [name of the disease] which is coming to its close, the results of this prolonged illness are severe weight loss and malnutrition.
2. Eida Hareidit President Condemns Violent Protests
27 Tammuz 5769/July 19, 2009
(IsraelNN.com) Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch, renowned authority on Jewish law and president of the hareidi-religious Eida Hareidit organization, condemned violent protests due to the arrest of a mother for suspected withholding nourishment from her child.
Rabbi Sternbuch wrote in a letter published Friday: “What we have to strongly protest here, in a peaceful manner, are the barbaric actions of the police force in arresting a woman who is allegedly sick according to their claims, and chaining her, putting her in a cell with dangerous criminals. If their allegations are true, then this woman deserves the appropriate medical treatment, but not to sit in a prison cell, with such subhuman treatment.” The rabbinic leader additionally stated, “We condemn any types of violence, I have stressed this many times before. Anyone who commits acts of violence declares that he doesn’t belong to our community. Any talk of boycotting the hospital is against the Halacha [Jewish law] and ‘very self-damaging.’ We have nothing against the Hadassah hospital, and many in our community receive their services in the Hadassah hospital with great care.”
*At one of the hearings for her to be released, until going to trial, the presiding judge was quoted as saying, "It would be dangerous for these girls to be released, as they might 'talk to other children in their yishuv.'"
Talking to friends and neighbors is dangerous?
How very frustrating it is for me that Haredim and Mithnahelim (settlers) cannot get together to work on a few common goals.