Monday, 26 December 2011

A Law Unto Themselves


The battle since the start of this school year, for Orot Banot School, has reached national status.

8 year old American olah, Naama Margolies, from Beit Shemesh, has become a national icon, due to a Channel Two News report aired this Saturday night.

Naama explains how scared she is to travel the 300 metres from her home to school. And, in front of the cameras, and in spite of her mother’s words of encouragement, Naama refuses to walk there.

Naama is clearly traumatized by the protesting Sikrikim (extremist chareidim) who have demonstrated outside Orot Banot modern-orthodox girls school for the past half-year. The demonstrators reportedly scream insults ("whores!""shikses!"), spit and throw various objects at the young school girls. 

Her mother explains that, although her family is orthodox, in the eyes of the kanoim, they are not.

The report continues by interviewing a chareidi-from-the-street (in his car) who justifies and apparently agrees with attacks on 7 year old girls who, in his opinion, are not dressed or behaving properly.

Here’s the Channel Two report in full:

    
Since this report, Prime Minister Netanyahu has addressed the topic of Gender Segregation, and it’s unacceptability in the modern State of Israel. He has instructed his various Ministers to take firm action.

Bet Shemesh Mayor, Moshe Abutbol, himself Chareidi (Shas) has come under fire from the national press, for his inability to control the extremists in the city.

A national level demonstration is planned for this Tuesday (tomorrow) in Beit Shemesh – potentially reaching numbers well beyond the locals in Beit Shemesh have been able to field until now.

At a telling point in the Channel Two interview, a chareidi man says that “your State does not exist, your Laws do not exist – only the Torah exists”.

In my humble opinion, this is the crux of this issue.

Every “club” is entitled to some degree of self-regulation.

A golf club, for example, can decide not to allow people to walk on the grass lawn. Or to add a 19th hole to the course.

The problems are when the golf club also says that underaged (illegal) drinkers can use the club bar.
Or that it is permitted to drive your golf ball through a neighbour’s bedroom windows.

In some Moslem communities in England, the local communities have established Sharia, Islamic Law, as the governing code of conduct within their communities.

This is fine, for example, when Sharia laws are used by participating neighbors to settle a financial dispute; or when Sharia is used for defining appropriate ritual practices.

However, when these communities invoke Sharia law to, say, permit members of their community to commit polygamy, or to amputate the hands of a thief in the community, or carry out a Honour Killing on a girl who is suspected of immorality, or encourage and organize bombings on the London Tube, then the real world outside their community pulls out a red card.

Those invoking Sharia laws in these cases have exceeded their autonomy and their legal jurisdiction.

They can argue that Alah is the King, and only Sharia laws apply to faithful Moslems, all the way to the prison cells.

They are criminally delusional.

In our case, in Bet Shemesh, it is not golf club rules, nor Sharia, but Halacha (as interpreted by any-which possek) which is applied within the bounds of the autonomy and jurisdiction of the frum community..

The problems start when Halacha is mis-applied to permit criminal acts, such as assaulting young girls in the street, throwing stones at drivers on Shabbat, or failing to report (ie covering up) child abuse.  

When a Bet Shemesh man (or a Hilltop Youth from an Outpost!) says “Your State does not exist, your Laws do not exist, only the Torah rules”, he and his fellows are being pathologically and criminally delusional.

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I would like to add appreciation for the two heroes of this latest fracas in Beit Shemesh - Rabbi Dov Lipman (grass-roots activist)  and Rabbi Eli Friedman (City Counselor for "Tov" Party).

2 comments:

  1. Love the term "criminally delusional"!!

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  2. David - I am shocked that you compare Halacha with golf-club rules, or Sharia Islamic Law??

    The Shulchan Aruch (as poskened for us by the Gedolim) must be the ONLY rule book for running the City of Beit Shemesh; the ONLY Laws for governing Eretz Israel; and, be'ezras Hashem, the Divine Covenant for ruling the whole World (Ohr Lagoyim).

    G-d Himself said so.

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