Learning from Shimon and Levi

Kana’us is not a subject to which I thought to return so soon after Mishpacha’s symposium on the subject. Unfortunately, the Channel Two video about a eight-year-old girl in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Naama Margolese, who was spit at on her way to school, and the resultant worldwide publicity given to attacks on students of the national religious Beit Orot school by zealots living nearby leave me little choice.

The Channel Two TV documentary, introduced by Yair Lapid (yes, Tommy’s son) quickly went viral. The 13-minute film opens with Naama relating how she was spit at because her elbow-length school shirt was not deemed modest enough. We then see her mother walking her to school, and Naama whimpering piteously when her mother suggests she try walking part way alone. Next the TV interviewer asks a man with long peyos whether it is permitted to spit at girls whose dress is insufficiently modest in his eyes. He answers that it is, adding, as an odd justification, “We are healthy people.”

Let’s forget for a moment about the terrible damage done to the image of Torah and Torah Jews, and focus on nothing but the self-interest of the chareidi community in Israel. The video was explicitly used by Lapid to suggest that the secular struggle against the chareidim has entered into a new stage. “Is this what we can expect in the rest of the country?” he asks at the end of introduction. The issue, the propagandists are saying, is no longer one of the oppression of chareidi women, not even one of whether chareidim contribute too little and take too much from the general society. Now, the issue, they say, is one of chareidim attempting to dictate chareidi mores to the rest of the country and turn Israel into another Iran.

To buttress that claim the film shows a shopping center in Beit Shemesh, on which construction has come to a standstill, because of zealot threats. The film ends with the interviewer asking the “healthy” man with the peyos what will be the end of this turmoil. He replies triumphantly, “The state will finally be chareidi – a chareidi state, whether you want it or not.”

That kind of demographic boast can only serve to terrify secular Israelis, and reinforce their desire to nip the threat in the bud. We should not forget that we are a poor, despised, and minority community, with great vulnerabilities if faced with a hostile government. Dramatic cuts in government transfer payments, support for chareidi educational institutions, or various forms of housing subsidies all carry the potential to cause widespread immiseration in the chareidi community. We should not count on the fact that we will always have a crucial role in any future government coalition. Thus providing ammunition to those who wish to portray us as an imminent threat to the freedom of non-chareidim endangers the entire community.

IN MANY RESPECTS, the larger chareidi community finds itself in the position of Yaakov Avinu after Shimon and Levi wiped out the men of Shechem. Yaakov accused his two sons of having caused him to become odious among the inhabitants of the land, and expressed his fear that those inhabitants would “gather together and attack me. I will be annihilated – I and my entire household.” Yaakov’s worst fears were not realized; Hashem struck the cities around with terror. But note that Yaakov Avinu did think it sufficient to rely on that Divine protection. And even on his deathbed, decades later, he did not bless Shimon and Levi together with their brothers, but rather cursed their haste to act upon their anger.

In their defense to Yaakov’s accusation that they had endangered their entire family, Shimon and Levi offered only, “Hakazona yei’aseh es achoseinu?” In their minds, it was enough to point to the wrong done their sister. Nothing else mattered. That is the typical response of the zealot. Identify some positive value – avenging the violation of a sister, modesty in dress and conduct, absolute separation on buses – and everything must be done to achieve the goal. All means are appropriate once the ideal is identified.

Balance – between ends and means, between short-term gains and long-term costs, even in terms of the ideal itself – has no place. The mindset of the zealot is the exact opposite of that of the chacham, who takes all factors into account, who never loses sight of the long-range goal in the heat of the moment, who can balance Torah values when they are in tension with one another. The latter is the perspective that has always caused the Jewish people to be admired for their wisdom, and which is so little evident in the way we are viewed today.

MOST OF THOSE WHO SENT ME the Channel 2 video were distraught chareidim. Many have written to me from around the globe that they are being asked: What is the difference between the chareidim and mullahs in Iran? Not a pleasant question.

The events in Ramat Beit Shemesh have placed all chareidim in a Catch-22 situation. We don’t identify with the zealots’ actions. And thus we resist the demand that we disassociate ourselves from them, since we never associated ourselves in the first place. That demand appears to us no more reasonable than demanding that President Shimon Peres disassociate himself from the actions of a motorcycle gang or a family crime syndicate, just because the members are also secular Israelis. We fear that by saying loud and clear that the zealots do not represent us, their actions are the antithesis of the Torah we learned from our teachers, that we will be tacitly conceding that we are part of one group: chareidim. At the same time, if we do not condemn their actions because we do not want to criticize fellow chareidim, then we have effectively proven the point of those who say that the zealots are also chareidim, albeit of an extreme nature.

There is no easy out from this trap. We must be careful not to repeat the mistake of the zealots and fail to consider the costs and benefits of our reaction. For that reason, it was unthinkable to join the demonstration in Ramat Beit Shemesh last week, whose organizers are using Naama to promote a left-wing, anti-religious agenda.

But the situation is now one in which chareidim and zealots are being portrayed as sharing one mindset, distinguished only by various gradations of extremism. In those circumstances, we must raise our voices and proclaim that we reject what has been done in Ramat Beit Shemesh with full force, and we do so in the name of the Torah.

Already two months ago, a group of primarily English-speaking chareidi women from Ramat Beit Shemesh starting bringing cakes and other Shabbos treats to the girls in Beit Orot on Friday to reassure them that those menacing them do not represent the chareidi world. And last week, Agudath Israel of America issued a statement, after consultation with the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, stating unequivocally: “Violence of any kind, whether physical or verbal, by self-appointed “guardians” of modesty is reprehensible. Such conduct is beyond the bounds of decent, moral – Jewish – behavior. We condemn it unconditionally. . . . [T]he extremist element is rejected by the vast majority of chareidi Jews.”

In a Channel Two interview, Aryeh Deri called for the police to put an end to the “massive chilul Hashem,” and said forthrightly that those who stone cars with an Israeli flag or spit at little girls understand only the language of force. “The only “rav” to whom they will answer is Rav Nitzav (Police Commissioner) Yochanan Danino,” said Deri.

These are steps in the right direction. But there is room for much more to be said and done lest we all become odious.

Originally published in Mishpacha.

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19 Responses

  1. Zalman Alpert says:

    In fact the so called main line Charedi press like the American Yated and others constantly prints pictures of the Rabbis of various extreme Charedi groups in Israel and has news coverage of their simches and other goings on .Their gedolim are featured in the center section weekly.
    Of course at the same time any rabbonim of the MO world or Chabad are almost never in these pictures. I wonder why.
    One can’t have it both ways claiming that mainline charedim have little in common with so called extremeists and then go ahead and give their leaders kavod on a regular basis.
    The people in BS are not only NK they belong to well known Chassiidc groups.
    Let me add that every time I open up the Yated and Hamodiah I see color pictures of the leaders of the Satmar community. They are entitled to their views ,b ut do so called main line charedim need to give them kavod ? For what ?For their funding of many of these extremists ?
    Do any of the main line charedim read Yiddiah ? Dot they read DER YID or Blatt and see how these so called papers thrash the Aguda, the Yeshivoth of DER Lita, Rav Shteinam, the settlers , Rav Yosef, Shaas Party vechuli vechuli. They openely support the extremists in BS and elsewhere in Israel, yet so called main line Charedim whom Mr. Rosenblatt claims have nothing to do with these people keep on giving them kavod.
    Respectfully why does the Lakewood yeshiva allow the Satmarer rebbes to deliver shiurim there. Do they know their views on israel ?Perhaps the hanhola even symathizes with these views ?Have they ever permitted RIETS rosh yeshivas to deliver a shiur kelloli there ?
    Indeed it is time for so called main line Charedim to tell these haters of Israel to get lost !

  2. velvet kippah says:

    Very well said.

    There are still major questions for the chareidi Rabbonim in RBS that they need to address.

    Where are the good folks? We know your out there…
    Why havent the mainstream local chareidim in RBS organized their own protest rally up till now?
    Why are they the last of the Mohicans to unify and stand up in protest against spitting on little girls and telling the world that neither the means nor the ends of these kannaim are valid?
    Why dont they come out – en masse – down to Orot and walk a kid to school?
    Why havent they attempted to make amends with the DL community?
    Why did they not sign the community letter back in Elul that was presented to them by the DL community?
    Why is it so easy to come out en masse to Yerushalayim for demonstrations against the Medina (remember Emmanuel?), but too difficult to walk a few miles and demonstrate against a bigger problem in their own backyard?

    What is truly unthinkable is that the mainstream local Chareidi Rabbonim continue to allow this to fester and prefer to wallow in self pity, play the victim and blame the media.

  3. Baruch Gitlin says:

    Although I don’t agree with everything in this post, I think it is by and large a very well thought out, and thought-provoking piece, and I don’t care to quibble about those parts with which I somewhat disagree. Having just finished some give and take with Rabbi Menken about the role of the haredi press, I would like to say that it is just a shame that articles like this are not more prevalent in the haredi media in Israel. (If I am mistaken, and this article has appeared in the Hebrew press, I would very much like to know.)

    Perhaps some of the disconnect that seems to be going on between many haredi and dati leumi/modern orthodox commentators is simply a divergent emotional reaction based on our various self-identities. In my life, I have encountered two instances in which striking events in the outside world had such emotionally disparate impacts on a small group of which I was part that the tension could almost literally be felt in a physical sense. The first was when Anwar Sadat was assassinated. I was studying Arabic in university at the time, along with several other Jewish students and several Muslim students (there were a few others as well). The Jewish students (and, I guess, the other Western-oriented students) were appalled at the assassination. The Muslim students, or at least a few of them, seemed to be joyous. To us, Sadat was a great peacemaker. To them, he was another corrupt Arab despot, and a traitor to boot. The second incident was the acquittal of the policemen in the Rodney King beating. I was working at a large New York law firm at the time. The white lawyers were very upset, wondering whether it would be save to go home via subway. The black secretaries were seething with rage over what they felt to be a gross miscarriage of justice. I should add that in both cases, Sadat and King, the groups I describe were generally on the best of terms.

    I think that perhaps this Beit Shemesh incident is the third such incident I have witnessed. Most of us seem to be having widely disparate emotional reactions because of who we are, and with whom we identify. As someone who wears a knitted kippa and identifies with the people who send their daughters to Orot, I feel a sense of outrage at what has been going on since September. Combined with that is lingering outrage of many other things, such as friends who have been harassed on so-called mehadrin buses, teenagers in my neighborhood that have been beaten up by hasidim in the adjoining neighborhood, and other such things. On the other hand, I can certainly understand the outrage of your average, law-abiding haredi person, perhaps someone like many that I know in Ramat Beit Shemesh, that gets up early to learn, goes out to earn an honest living, and goes out again at night to learn some more, who finds himself feeling tarred with guilt by association because of these people in Ramat Beit Shemesh Beit, for no better reason than a superficial similarity in dress.

    What is my point in writing all this? I guess I just want to point out to anyone reading that we all have our emotional reactions, and it is a natural thing – but we should let our emotions calm down enough to try to see the other point of view. Speaking from my side of the fence, I can say that your article is a nice step in that direction. Although I did not read it yet, I believe there is an article in the most recent Makor Rishon that attempts to do the same from the other point of view. A much more productive exercise, in both cases, than complaining about the media or heaping abuse on a whole community for the actions of a few imbeciles.

  4. Abe71 says:

    “Hakazona yei’aseh es achoseinu?”

    Ironically this is exactly waht the current zealot extremists are doing to (and calling) their sisters. Shimon and Levi never would have stood for it; if anything they would have gone after the zealot extremists with full strength.

  5. James says:

    If just the Agudah had unequivocally condemned the violence. The RCA statement was far more unequivocal and a good example of how to condemn violence and extremism.

  6. Menachem Lipkin says:

    “That demand appears to us no more reasonable than demanding that President Shimon Peres disassociate himself from the actions of a motorcycle gang or a family crime syndicate, just because the members are also secular Israelis.”

    This is not a valid analogy. Secular Israelis do not represent a group with shared ideology, modes of dress, religious practices, etc. While Chareidi extremist behavior is relatively rare, the ideology behind it is less so. And that ideology exists on a broad continuum from very moderate to very extreme.

    A more valid analogy would be if secular (or any Israelis) were traveling abroad as an identifiable group and behaved in an abhorrent manner. Then, yes, government leaders would be expected to (and have) publicly dissociate themselves from such actions.

    The issue is not whether you associate yourself with the extremists, but that they are associated with you. Further, as much as the vast majority of fine, wonderful, Chareidim say and feel that these extremists are not “Chareidim”, they are, in fact, Chareidim. Jonathan admits as much when he states, “…if we do not condemn their actions because we do not want to criticize fellow chareidim

    They may not be behaving as one would want Chareidim to behave, but that doesn’t, in and of itself, strip them of their label. Just as those marauding Israelis abroad don’t lose their citizenship just because we don’t like their behavior, they remain Israelis and we have to deal with it.

    In light of this, Jonathan’s Catch-22 breaks down and so too any basis for not condemning the actions of the extremists.

    That said, just as I would not think it’s incumbent on each and every Israeli to condemn those marauders, so too it’s not every Chareidi’s obligation to make a public statement. In both cases that responsibility falls to the leadership. And, on a positive note, it’s heartening to see more and more of the Chareidi leadership assuming this responsibility.

  7. dr. bill says:

    three points:

    comparing this in any way to shimon and levi gives the event an air of respectability and misreads the ambivalence of the Torah to their attack on Shekhem. Yaakov was clearly opposed, the pesukim a tad less so.

    Abe71 is quite right; shimon and Levi would have reacted against the sinners.

    the moral equivalence (subliminally perhaps) implied by raising the issue of chiloni extremists is troubling to say the least.

  8. Ita says:

    In the local Beit Shemesh Newspaper called Chadash, they wrote about something very interesting.

    I quote” A prominent member of the Dati Leumi community came to the defense of the Chareidi community in Beit Shemesh and nationwide. In an essay in last Friday’s Mekor Rishon, former City Council Member (Mafdal) questions the veracity of the now famous “spitting” incident and appeals to the reason of his colleagues. He writes” My family and I have lived here in Beit Shemesh for close to two decades , and my own daughter attends the Orot school, walking there and back each day.When his daughter was told about the Anti -chareidi protest, she asked “What happened”SHE herself comes and goes there daily and has NEVER seen ANY Chareidi spit or even yell..

    It really makes one wonder what actually transpired with Naama Margoles.

  9. Yitzhak says:

    dr. bill writes: “comparing this in any way to shimon and levi gives the event an air of respectability and misreads the ambivalence of the Torah to their attack on Shekhem. Yaakov was clearly opposed, the pesukim a tad less so.”

    Indeed. As I discuss at Bein Din Le’Din (“Abravanel and Dumas on Honor”), Abravanel goes beyond mere sympathy and clearly endorses the stance of Shimon and Levi:

    וכלל דבריהם שעל הקלון הזה היו מחוייבים להמסר עצמם בסכנה כי המות בכבוד טובה מחיי החרפה והבוז וכבר הסכים דעת המקום ב”ה שעשו כי היה חתת אלקים בכל הערים אשר סביבותיהם ולא רדפו אחרי בני יעקב

    And see also Or Ha’Haim’s seemingly sympathetic interpretations of Shimon and Levi’s retort to Ya’akov.

  10. cvmay says:

    ITA I would wonder on what planet does this City Council Member of Mafdal live?
    Check UTUBE and other networks to see 20-30 men standing in front of a school yelling and throwing objects?
    I would suspect a political person to have many agendas when speaking, , , dont’t u?

  11. Ita says:

    cvmay, I have seen youtube which also had a video of a Dati Leumi woman davka walking past these men to get their goat, and another of them just screaming at a video camera (no kids in sight), another with a heated discussion with them but no children,another with them just chanting “shiksa ” pritsa”with no yelling etc,one chareidi community rabbi speaking against the violence,another with the zealot men just standing there while the parents guard their kids,another with them just chanting pritza…and another just chancing “Pritsas telchu mi po”..talking strongly but not “yelling” Maybe I am missing something but I did not see ANY video of violence.. just chanting of pritza an shiksa. Granted that is wrong but makes you wonder about what is really going on.For all you know they are yelling and chanting because the camera is there..

    I will say that my husband found a flier of theses zealots who say that they don’t see what is different from them spitting and the fact that R’Akiva spat on the Roman woman who would become his wife.

    I am not saying chanting or yelling did not happen but I wonder if the “spitting” might have just been saliva just falling out of the guy’s mouth.

    If you listen to Mrs. Margoles talking .. she mentions that nobody asked the Dati Leumi permission before the city builds 30,000 houses for chareidim. Nobody needs to ask anybody else before building homes in a Jewish state for another Jewish person. It also should be stated that the previous Mayor davka put the Orot school in that location just to stave of Chareidi growth in the city.

    I am not saying nothing happened but it seems very fishy that it was the way it was. Even that video on Channel 2 of Mrs. Margoles walking her daughter shows nothing happened. Do we really know for a fact that the little girl was spit on ? Do we know that it was any more than their chanting? Also, when does chanting cross the line of not being their legal democratic right to protest?

    Note: I am not defending the zealots but just analyzing to get a real answer.

    I am trying to figure things out..

  12. Ita says:

    By the way this is a FORMER City Council member.. Couldn’t it be that this is being entirely blown up for political purposes on the Dati Leumi end also? They hate Mayor Abutbol and want him to get out of office..

  13. Menachem Lipkin says:


    For starters, Chadash is an organ of the mayor, much like Pravda was in the old Soviet Union, so they have virtually zero credibility. Unfortunately, a large segment of the Chareidi population in Bet Shemesh gets its “news” from this rag.

    That said, there are 400 girls who attend Orot. The majority leave the school building each day in directions that take them away from the Chareidi neighborhood. So, it’s quite conceivable, even likely for most girls never to have experienced, first hand, these assaults.

    As one of a small group of people who live in the neighborhood near Orot and who work at home, I have been available to be in the area of the school whenever there’s a problem. In the beginning of the school year I was out almost daily. I’ve witnessed the cursing and the spitting. I have over 1000 photographs, some have been used by the police others have been used by the media. My friend Dov K. has around 20 videos documenting much of what we’ve seen. I personally have been spit at and shoved. My video friend was assaulted and thrown to the ground. All the women who join us have been spit at and cursed.

    I have a video of a group of girls nearly hit by an egg thrown from the roof of one of the Chareidi buildings. Another video, taken the next day, shows Chareidim throwing objects from the roof of that building. (You can find both videos by searching YouTube for “orot egg”, they should be the first videos in the search results.)

    So, Ita, you can stop wondering what actually transpired.

    Unfortunately your “wondering” is one of two main symptoms of cognitive dissonance I’m seeing. The first, as exhibited by Jonathan above, is to deny that these people are Chareidim. The second is, as in your case, to try and downplay what happened, even questioning if anything at all happened. The people in the first group are going to have to come to peace with their issues in their own way.

    However, to people in the second group I can testify, as a first hand witness, that, if anything, the media has grossly understated what’s been happening here in the past few months and even in the past few years. Unfortunately, no honest person will be able to find solace in the idea that this problem is somehow not true or exaggerated.

    Fortunately many wonderful people are not suffering this cognitive dissonance and are publicly stepping forward with condemnations, introspection, and offers to help.

  14. Ita says:

    Actually, the videos you speak of do not show WHOM is throwing the egg and why.The videos of the eggs do not prove that it’s an ongoing event. Nor do any of the videos on youtube prove that they are being violent towards the girls.The videos on youtube with the zealots chanting are just that. They look like a bunch of nutcases. As someone who grew up in New York and experienced something of this nature (looks, attitude at me) I learned to see that some are nutcases and some are normal. The media has not grossly understated the situation at all. The fact that you take out your ending paragraph from what you wrote on a mother in israel blog makes me think that you are just pushing an agenda.

  15. mb says:

    “but I wonder if the “spitting” might have just been saliva just falling out of the guy’s mouth.

    Of course it was, and anybody who says otherwise is not giving the benefit of the doubt and should be ashamed of themselves.

  16. Menachem Lipkin says:


    Do you believe that the Earth is round? That men landed on the moon? That the Jews were slaves in Egypt? That God gave the Torah at Mount Sinai? It takes a special kind of person to look at video of an egg being thrown at school girls in the context of our conversation and my personal testimony and the ask the questions you do. You claim to be “trying to figure things out” yet you continue to cast aspersions, on multiple blogs, in the face of video and eyewitness testimony. Your behavior is perfectly supporting my cognitive dissonance theory, so I thank you for that.

    As for the media “understating”, they have only given the most minimal glimpse into what has been going on here. Media soundbites can hardly give a full picture of the torment these kids suffered on a daily basis in the opening days of the school year. Have you read about the Orot boy who was hit in the leg by a rock thrown by Chareidim while he was in the school playground? The grandfather who was taking pictures who was jumped and thrown to the ground and has had his camera stolen? How about the fuller context? The 14 year old girl who assaulted, thrown to the ground and repeatedly kicked by a gang of 40 adult chareidim a few years ago? The graffiti? The threats? No of course you don’t know about this. But, yet somehow you, a professed truth seeker, are able to say with certainty that “The media has not grossly understated the situation at all.” Please introspect on your “agenda”.

    Yes, I have an agenda. My agenda, as an eye witness, is get the truth out, to help people like yourself get beyond their dissonance so they can see what’s really happening an work to change it. I think reasonable people can see that I’m out here with my full name giving solid information and evidence helping them to understand what’s really happening here. True conspiratorial thinking is nearly impossible to overcome, let’s hope you don’t go that far.

  17. Dov says:

    Reb Yonassan, having spent a lot of time personally seeing the situation in Beit Shemesh up close, videoing the kanayim and receiving blows once in the process, I certainly agree with your distinction between the kanay and the chacham, but I think there are two critical problems with the rest of your analysis.

    First, if there were a few dozen men in chassidish garb, in Beit Shemesh or in Jerusalem, publically eating pig, you can be sure that the chareidi world would be making strong statements, and the chazir-eaters put in cherem, not simply saying “then they’re not really chareidim.” If a Bais Yaacov school were to allow lycra shirts, there would be pashkevilim and long meetings to convince other Bais Yaacov schools to mechazek their tzniyus, not just saying “well they’re not really chareidi.” Why are a few dozen men in chassidish garb swearing, spitting, intimidating, hitting and shoving, not a reason to do all of the above? Where are the meetings at other Chassidish yeshivos emphasizing hasmada, or hakol kol yaacov (with Rashi’s understanding)? Where are the pashkevilim that these same men would get if they were over ben adam le’makom? Why aren’t these thugs put in cherem?

    Second, we’re not talking here about Dina being raped. We’re talking in Beit Shemesh about schoolgirls wearing skirts and sleeves, with mothers and teachers with kisui sa’ar, but who might not wear stockings. We’re talking in Jerusalem about a bus line taking predominately religious people to the kosel. We’re talking all over about men and women sitting on a bus just like they do in New York and just like they did in Israel until recently, where religious men have the option of keeping their eyes in a sefer where they belong. We’re not talking about any serious pritzus, or any serious aveiros, or anything that’s at all analogous to Shimon and Levi’s situation.

    Chazal say “tafasta meruba lo tafasta.” Neither halacha nor psak Gedolim makes any of these things worthy of violence, but kanayim have decided to turn them into a milchama. In the end the whole Jewish people loses.

  18. Dov says:

    Ita, I took most of the videos you saw, and was there virtually every day. I personally was hit and wrestled to the ground, while my camera was facing the other way. I saw spitting and shoving when my camera was facing the other way (only one camera at a time, sorry). I have one video of spitting not released to the public for other reasons.

    In America as in Israel, verbal abuse is considered abuse. If someone stood outside your childrens school and yelled “whore! slut!” at them day after day, refusing to move away from the school per police order, would you consider it abusive?

    Related groups of people are in videos in Jerusalem brawling in the street over “control” of an apartment complex in Mea She’arim. Related groups threw stones at busses in Mea She’arim taking religious Jews to the Kosel.

    It may be hard to believe, but it’s happening. And denying it doesn’t help.

  19. cohen y says:

    “In America as in Israel, verbal abuse is considered abuse.”


    Mayor Abutbol – Say No to Extremism
    By Jonathan Rosenblum, on September 12th, 2011

    In September 1998, a two-room school opened up in Tzoran, a residential community of 1,500 young families, nestled among the agricultural settlements east of Netanya, for 25 six and seven-year-olds. When they arrived at school that first day, the young children were confronted by a chanting mob of 60 adults, some of whom had tied attack dogs to the school gates. Despite the heat, the principal had no choice but to close the windows, as curses and stones rained down on the school.

    The same scene was repeated every morning for the first months of the schools existence, and the school was defaced and repeatedly vandalized over the course of the year. The purpose of the demonstrators was to terrorize little children by forcing them to run a daily gauntlet of verbal abuse and physical menace.

    The confrontation in Tzoran was not widely reported in the Israeli press, certainly not compared to the efforts by a group of religious extremists to prevent the opening of a national religious girls in Beit Shemesh last week, on a plot long designated for the school and lying adjacent to both haredi and national religious neighborhoods.

    But Tzoran has a lot to do with why I am so strongly opposed to the vandalism, taunts, and threats used to prevent the national religious girls school in Beit Shemesh from opening. The small school in Tzoran, you see, was haredi-run, and I wrote in these pages at the time strongly condemning the demonstrators in Tzoran.

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