Uri Orbach
Photo: Tomer Barzide

The price of recklessness

Uri Orbach slams violence displayed by rioting ultra-Orthodox, teenage settlers

You have no idea how little I’m bothered by seculars parking in Jerusalem’s Safra parking lot on Shabbat. I prefer seculars who park on Shabbat over seculars who drive on Shabbat. Yet the zealots of the ultra-Orthodox community don’t care about this. Some of them choose the arena, and there you go, all members of the Orthodox public must show up there to defend God’s honor.


The parking lot in question is not located in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood, but rather, downtown. The State of Israel and the Jerusalem city hall have an interest in seeing seculars living in and visiting Jerusalem, even on the holy Shabbat. Yes, they should arrive at the Old City and the market, or go to other entertainment venues. It’s so simple that apparently one needs to be a Satmar Hassid in order to fail to understand this.


An open parking lot at the Safra Square disturbs nobody, unless this nobody decides to go nuts and show everyone that Jerusalem belongs to him, and only him. A closed parking lot in Safra won’t prevent Shabbat desecration any more than an open parking lot. This is simple and clear, and therefore it would be preferable for this free parking lot to be open on Shabbat. Yet as far as the protestors are concerned, seculars should stay in their Tel Aviv and not park in our Jerusalem, which is just ours. And again we see mayhem, and quickly everyone shows up: On one side there are those protesting on behalf of the Shabbat and their feelings and on the other side those protesting in the name of freedom and rights.


Yet beyond the argument here, and the question of who’s right and who’s wrong, I look at the photos, the curses, the violence, the hysteria, and the spitting, and I’m stunned – not for the first time – by the ease with which religious people who adhere to the Mitzvahs are willing to riot, hit police officers, and swear. Are those people who were educated in Torah schools, who experienced moments of elation there, and who are supposed to adopt proper codes of behavior towards others as a second nature?


Not the way of the Torah 

Yet while I’m picking on our ultra-Orthodox friends, we should briefly visit one of our outposts in Samaria. There we see our children (Our? Our!) slice the tires of a military vehicle, push police officers, damage Arab property, curse, and walk around with masks on their face, as if there is no State. They and some of their rabbis refer to Obama as a little goy, an Arab really, an anti-Semite, and everyone else is a damn leftist. And again they are posting signs on the streets, urging “their” parties to quit this government, because it’s about to uproot some communities.


Again, they think that the whole world, and the entire wonderful settlement enterprise, and the entire religious Zionist community will show up and salute just because they are from our camp, and they claim to speak on our behalf, and they are even willing to be beaten up on our behalf and exact a price tag for outpost evacuation on our behalf.


Recklessness is appealing. On occasion, rabbis and public figures also enjoy taking advantage of it; in the name of God and on behalf of the land.


When one takes part in a public struggle that features violence and pushing and shouting, one becomes filled with vigor. You see the small arena where the clash takes place and are tempted to believe that “in this country people only understand force.” You become convinced that you’re the best, and all the rest are seculars who lost their way and drugged youths.


And after all, everyone from the yeshiva is here, and everyone else is on their way (aside from 99% of the people who stayed home at the center of the country, but who cares about them?) and does the Yesha Council even dare think of compromise? There will be none.


And meanwhile, an entire country is seeing rioting settlers and ultra-Orthodox, and this country is losing interest in the burning Samaria or in the increasingly Orthodox Jerusalem. Because a whole country, including religious and secular, loves the Shabbat and the Land of Israel, but it is unwilling to tolerate police officers being pushed and soldiers being humiliated by their brothers, be it Orthodox who didn’t serve in the army, or national religious youths who have not yet enlisted. This is not the way of the Torah, and all of us, those who love the Land of Israel and honor the Shabbat, will pay for this recklessness.


פרסום ראשון: 06.09.09, 00:46
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