ULTRA-Orthodox Jews in Israel have been attracting so much bad publicity over the treatment of their womenfolk that they hit back at critics over the weekend – by dressing themselves and their children in Holocaust garb.
According to this report, thousands of the lame-brained extremists gathered on Saturday night in Jerusalem to protest what they say is a nationwide campaign directed against their lifestyle. The protesters called Israeli policemen “Nazis”, wore yellow Star of David patches with the word “Jude” — German for Jew — dressed their children in striped black-and-white uniforms associated with Nazi concentration camps, and transported them in the back of a truck.
Said Moshe Zanbar, chairman of the main umbrella group for Holocaust survivors in Israel:
We must leave the Holocaust and its symbols outside the arguments in Israeli society. This harms the memory of the Holocaust.
And opposition leader Tzipi Livni said:.
This is a terrible offense against the memory of the Holocaust victims who were forced, secular and Ultra-Orthodox alike, to wear the yellow star in the ghetto on their way to extermination, and there is no demonstration in the world that can justify this.
Defence Minister Ehud Barak added that the display was “shocking and horrifying” and a “crossed a red line.”
Elan Steinberg, of The American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants – an umbrella organisation of US survivors, expressed:
Utter contempt at this disgraceful exploitation of the Nazi symbols. We who survived and witnessed these Nazi crimes are particularly offended that demonstrators so blithely used children in this public outrage. They have insulted the memory of all the Jewish victims, including those who were ultra-Orthodox.
The Nazis made no distinction in their murderous treatment of our people — whether one was ultra-Orthodox, traditional, or non-believer, you were marked for cruelty and death.
And in this report, cabinet member and Holocaust survivor Yossi Peled expressed his outrage over the group’s use of such historically sensitive symbols.
Dressing up children with the yellow ribbons with their hands up in the air, re-enacting pictures of children from the ghetto, is simply inconceivable. Six million Jews, including one and a half million children, cannot be used as a tool in a public debate.
Ironically, it is the religious extremists themselves who have been acting like fascists in their determination to enforce gender segregation – and it its this behaviour that has drawn fire from the Israeli media for their attempts to ban the mixing of sexes on buses, sidewalks and other public spaces.
In one city, extremists jeered and spat at girls walking to school, saying they were dressed immodestly. They’ve also battled with police over street signs calling for segregation, and attacked journalists who have covered their neighborhoods.
In recent weeks, a few young Israeli women have caused nationwide uproars for refusing the orders of religious men to move to the back of public buses. One man faces charges over his abuse of a woman soldier of a bus.
These practices, albeit by a fringe sect, have unleashed a backlash against the ultra-Orthodox in general, the climax of which came last week in a large demonstration where protesters held signs reading, “Free Israel from religious coercion,” and “Stop Israel from becoming Iran.”
Rabbi Yitzhak Weiss, one of the organisers of Saturday’s protest, said the use of Nazi symbols was intentional and aimed at highlighting what he said was a campaign by the secular media against his community.
The idea was to convey a clear and simple message: that wild incitement against the ultra-Orthodox community will not be tolerated. The Israeli media’s incitement is reminiscent of the German media’s before World War II.
(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)