How to Issue a Condemnation of Violence

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Thugs and hoodlums from extremist religious groups in Israel have been terrorizing fellow Jews for some time now. They have done so without fear of condemnation or retribution from the religiously adjacent charedi community. This recent wave of violence is not new nor is it shocking or surprising.

Spitting on young girls, calling women whores, forcing segregation at bus stops and on buses are all acts cut from the same cloth as the violence at Manny’s Bookshop and a political beating in Meah Shearim. We’ve known about this for a while. Nobody has said a word.

However, this time the media found out about it. So now it’s national and international news.

This has prompted responses and condemnations from rabbis, rabbinic authorities and lay people. That’s great. Finally. The problem is that these condemnations are so weak, hedged and long-winded that they, in my opinion, are a failure.

There is only one way to condemn violence and abuse towards women. That would be something like this:

We strongly condemn any and all violence towards women under any and all circumstances. Those who commit such acts of violence will feel the full effect and power of the religious and secular court system. They will be excommunicated from all religious circles and are heretofore to be considered persona non grata. If you know of any individuals who have abused anyone, whether verbally or physically notify the police and rabbinic leadership immediately.

What we don’t need is an explanation of how these people are not “real charedim”. We don’t need poetry on the majesty of tznius. We don’t need snide remarks about the secular media. Just speak out against violence, promise retribution and to take action.

Enough with the apologetics and handwringing.

Feel free to copy and paste my version of an appropriate condemnation on all the blogs and news sites that have published the watered down condemnations to this point. If you can, please credit this blog. Thanks.

Links: NY TimesCross-Currents, YWN

  • Well, because they are not like real chareidim, they will not care about being excommunicated or going to court. They listen only to their own rules and it will not stop their behavior. When people write that these ‘spitters’ do not represent the other 99% it means to say that there is nothing the 99% can do to stop them. No Rabbi’s ruling can stop their behavior, since they don’t listen to the leading Rabbis.

    Nevertheless, there have plenty of Rabbis who condemned these acts, put its not posted on Facebook or Youtube. Check the religious websites as well as charedi forums and you will see people’s comments from a charedi perspective. The charedi publications in Israel published condemnations by many leaders. If you did not see them, it does not mean it did not happen. charedim don’t use social media to get their message across

    • I did see them. I find them all lacking.

    • Akiva

      Private condemnations don’t do it for me. Where is the public outcry? Where are the Kol Koreh’s that are obviously so easily accessible to our Rabbinic leaders? Saying that they are not representative of the chareidi community only holds water if the chareidi community condemns these acts and show that these people who seem to represent their community indeed do not. I promise you, these acts of violence and terrorism are worse for the minds of the average frum Jew than Nosson Slifkin’s books. Where are the Kol Korehs? Where are the vaadin in yeshivos that were so effectively used to cast a shadow on Slifkin?

  • Is there a reason to condemn violence against women only? Violence against men is equally reprehensible, and much more likely to be physically abusive, like what happened to R’ Dov Lipman.

    What bothers me about the condemnations that still mention tznius is that the girls school in question is a dati school and the dress code is according to Halacha. I would like to hear someone say, “and while there are different standards for tzniut in different communities, as long as girls are dressing according to Halacha, nobody has the right to tell them to do anything else.”

  • Lisa Liel

    Sometimes, violence is the only proper answer to violence.  It’s times like this that make me wish I was back in Ramat Beit Shemesh so that I could take a knife on the bus with me.  It irks me to no end that people are “demonstrating” and wailing about how the police need to do something.  If the police won’t do something, grab these punks and beat them until they bleed.

  • If a goy put on a kipah and robbed a bank, would you issue that same condemnation, or would you say that this guy wasn’t even Jewish, he just dressed the part?

    These guys wear black hats and coats, big deal.  They’re not frum.  Frum=following halacha.  Halacha forbids what they do.  It’s more than they’re not indicative of the average Charedi person.  They’re just non-religious people who dress in a certain way.

    Prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.  Let the world know that Jewish law prohibits their actions.  It’s simply unfair to Charedim to lump these sick freaks in with them.

    • Actually, its perfectly fair. You are simply advocating the “No True Scottsman Fallacy.”
      These people are the monsters that charedi hashkafa (in all its grandeur ) has created. For years upon years, these communities have been living upon a fetish of sexualizing everything neutral around them—including those that DO dress modestly. This is simply the logical outcome of their maddening education. Hence, there is no surprise. 

      • The difference is, the only concrete definition of a Scotsman is a man from Scotland.

        Here, we have an actual definition of what a Charedi Jew is.  

        This is an important distinction.  You assert that the traits of part of the Charedi world led to these abhorrent actions (I don’t necessarily accept that).

        However, I would hope that you acknowledge that assault and harassment are forbidden by halacha.  As such, it’s not adherence to Judaism that is causing this.  However, that’s what most of the media presents.  These “Ultra-Orthodox Jews” are assaulting young girls, in the name of Judaism.

        That’s why we must vocally assert that these men are not Charedi, nor are they any kind of observant Jew.  I wouldn’t count one in a minyan, allow one to testify in beis din, or even eat in his home.

        The Mormons have had to deal with this. A few groups splintered off from the LDS church started small cults where the leaders “married” dozens of underage girls.  Those cult leaders aren’t Mormon.  These screamers and spitters aren’t Charedi.

  • Rochelatkins

    Rabbi Fink wrote “They have done so without fear of condemnation or retribution from the religiously adjacent charedi community.”

    Most heredim feel absolutely no affinity with the Sikrikim and do not consider themselves religiously adjacent to them any more than you do.

    Where were the international media, the national religious Jews, the secular, Reform, Conservative, non-heredi orthodox Jews all these years the Sikrikim have been terrorizing the heredi in Meah Shearim?  Where were you?  You have been blogging since 2008, yet a search of “Meah Shearim” turns up no posts about the terror these hoodlums have been perpetrating there for years now.  Why only now do YOU feel the need to speak up?

    • I have been speaking out against religious extremist terror for years. Search “New Square”.

  • “What we don’t need is an explanation of how these people are not “real charedim”. We don’t need poetry on the majesty of tznius. We don’t need snide remarks about the secular media. Just speak out against violence, promise retribution and to take action.”

    This is gold

  • Eli Willner

    So that we know exactly where you are coming from, why don’t you name the Rabbis whose “condemnations are so weak, hedged and long-winded”?

    • Click the links at the end of the post.

      • Eli Willner

        I did. So why not come right out and say that you consider the Rabbinic leadership of Agudah “weak, hedged and long-winded”? And my follow up question will be, when you’re not consumed by the fire of righteous indignation, who do *you* look up to for daas Torah?

        • > I am not here to bash the Agudah (in this instance). It has nothing to do with THEM. I am simply providing what I feel to be an appropriate nusach for condemnation of this violence.

          > I am not consumed by any fires and I don’t have righteous indignation. I see an injustice and I cannot stand by and not voice my displeasure.

          > As far as Daas Torah, I have my education, learning, teachers and mentors as well as experience and intelligence. I try to draw from all those sources when analyzing a problem and I hope that my perspective is acceptable within the framework of halacha and hashkafa. I hope that answers your question.

    • Eli Willner (LA)

      Wow!  Someone with the same first and last names as I have.  You also spell your last name with two L’s.  Nice to meet you!  Eli (aka Eliyahu ) Willner, Los Angeles, California.  (Son-in-law of the Simon’s of Venice’s PJC)

      • Eli Willner

        Aha, a member of the west coast branch of the family! I’m Eliakim, son of Eric (Yisroel) and happy to meet you as well. Consult your local copy of the family tree to find the connection! 🙂

  • DG

    Is this the condemnation you were looking for?

    • I like to think that he was inspired by my blog post… 🙂 [it was three days later]