Outrage in Israel over protest's holocaust link
Turkey's prime minister Sunday welcomed efforts toward reconciliation between the rival Palestinian factions during a meeting with the Hamas premier of the Gaza Strip, Turkey's state-run news agency reported.
The New York Times
JERUSALEM — With public fury over some ultra-Orthodox groups mounting, Israeli leaders on Sunday denounced ultra-Orthodox protesters who took to the streets of Jerusalem on Saturday night and put young boys on display wearing yellow stars and striped prison-camp uniforms reminiscent of the Holocaust.
Organizers of the demonstration said they had been protesting what they called growing incitement against their community, with Israeli and foreign news media focusing on ultra-Orthodox zealots who have been increasingly encroaching on the public sphere, enforcing gender segregation and the exclusion of women and girls in accordance with their strict interpretation of religious modesty rules.
One Israeli television program recently reported how an 8-year-old girl, the daughter of American immigrants who are observant modern Orthodox Jews, had become terrified of walking to school in the city of Beit Shemesh after ultra-Orthodox men spit on her, insulted her and called her a prostitute because her modest dress did not conform exactly to their more rigorous dress code.
Tensions were further fueled by the arrest of an ultra-Orthodox man here last week on a charge of sexual harassment after he verbally abused a female Israeli soldier who had refused to move to the back of a public bus. An organizer of Saturday's protest in the ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood told Israeli television that the actions of the authorities were like a "spiritual holocaust."
But mainstream Israeli leaders expressed outrage over the provocative use of Holocaust imagery, saying it insulted the memory of victims of the Nazis.
Many Israelis are depicting the religious tensions as a battle over democratic values and the future character of the country.
The protesters numbered only a few hundred, but in the current climate of discord and animosity, the use of children and Holocaust imagery was calculated to cause the maximum aggravation. Organizers distributed yellow stars printed with the word "Jude," German for Jew, which some demonstrators pinned onto their coats. One little boy was instructed to pose for cameras with his hands raised in surrender, mimicking a famous photograph of a small, frightened Jewish boy surrendering to the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II.
Israel's defense minister, Ehud Barak, described the scenes at the protest as "shocking and appalling."
"The use of yellow patches and small children raising their hands in surrender crosses a red line which the ultra-Orthodox leadership, who are largely responsible people, must not accept," he added in a statement.
Avner Shalev, chairman of Yad Vashem, Israel's official Holocaust remembrance authority, condemned the use of symbols of the Holocaust, telling Israel Radio that it was "unacceptable."
Ultra-Orthodox men and boys from the most stringent sects routinely curse the Israeli police as "Nazis" during confrontations. They and other political groups on the far right and left of Israeli society have also used Holocaust imagery in the past.
Organizers of the protest belong to ultra-Orthodox groups that are anti-Zionist. Their presence in Jerusalem predated the establishment of modern Israel in 1948, and they believe there should be no Jewish state until the Messiah comes.
More broadly, mainstream Israelis have been expressing growing resentment of the ultra-Orthodox sector, which makes up about 10 percent of the population but is rapidly expanding. More than 60 percent of ultra-Orthodox men prefer full-time Torah study and welfare subsidies to work, and a vast majority receive exemptions from military duties required of all other Jewish Israelis.
Leaders of Hamas,
ISTANBUL — Turkey's prime minister Sunday welcomed efforts toward reconciliation between the rival Palestinian factions during a meeting with the Hamas premier of the Gaza Strip, Turkey's state-run news agency reported.
Ismail Haniyeh is on an official tour of the Muslim world, his first trip outside the blockaded territory since the Islamist group took over Gaza in 2007. Turkey is trying to help efforts toward a reconciliation between the rival Palestinian Hamas and Fatah factions.
Haniyeh met Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at the Turkish leader's Istanbul residence. Erdogan expressed hope that the Palestinians "attain an all-encompassing umbrella organization with strong democratic representation powers," the Anadolu Agency reported.
The Associated Press
Trending on seattletimes.com
Most viewed photo galleries
The Morning Memo
The Morning Memo jump starts your day with weather, traffic and news
Career Center Blog
Your Opinion Matters
Take our survey and enter to win $100. Enter Now!