Want to see haredim celebrating? Think again: Zealots from Beit Shemesh and Mea Shearim, nicknamed "Sicarrii"(dagger bearers) after Judean extremists from the second temple period, gathered this week for an emergency meeting to devise a plan against the tourists groups that will flood Jerusalem's Mea Shearim and the surrounding neighborhoods when Hanukkah starts next week.
Ynet has learned that participants devised a plan which includes wide-scale actions against tourists beginning next Tuesday when Jews around the world light the holiday's first candle. Eighty locals have already volunteered to enforce the program.
Under the framework of this planned "intifada", volunteers will attack tourists with eggs, diapers full of goodies, and whatever else they can get their hands on. According to their plan, the assault will force the police to hurry to the neighborhood to impose order, resulting in news coverage, which will cause anyone planning on coming to the area during the holiday period to think twice.
Preparing for the coming battle? (Archive photo: Gil Yohanan)
During Hanukkah, Mea Shearim and its environs become popular destinations for throngs of tourists from Israel and abroad. This phenomenon — or nuisance as the locals see it — can start as early as 7 am and end as late as 3 am.
Area residents understand what attracts large groups of people to the neighborhood's special festive atmosphere during the holiday, but many claim that the constant tours have become an insufferable inconvenience. "When we have big groups it gets really bad; lots of clatter, shouting. Many secular people come in inappropriate, immodest dress; it's problematic. The secular people are not aware that it is a problem but it really bothers the people," one neighborhood denizen told Ynet.
A history of struggleThe struggle against tourism in Mea Shearim did not begin on Thursday. Last year, for example, residents established rotating neighborhood watches of five yeshiva students each whose job it was to prevent visitors from penetrating the walls of Mea Shearim. And just so that no one could claim he was not warned, volunteers posted signs around the area with the headline "Attention Hellenists" demanding that potential visitors avoid coming to the area and disrupting its special way of life.
This strategy was not especially effective, as the small bands of students were overwhelmed by the mass of visitors who treated the signs as a curiosity and occasionally got involved in useless confrontations with locals. Thus it was decided this year to make arrangements on a wider scale before it was too late.
One resident told Ynet about an event that occurred during an encounter with one group last year. One of the children visiting the neighborhood wore an earring and the resident asked the guide if the child was a boy or a girl. When he was informed that the child was indeed a boy, the resident asked the group to leave, telling them, "I do not want my children to see such a thing. What do I live in Mea Shearim for?"