Sunday, June 07, 2009

Riots in Jerusalem

I'm going to Jerusalem in a week, and it appears that the summer rioting season has started early. Last night Haredim in Mea Shearim rioted against the "city's decision to open a municipality-owned lot on Shabbat."
The clashes, which began Saturday night, were held under the banner of 'The Battle for Jerusalem'. Thousands of ultra-Orthodox men tried to storm the lot in Safra Square, many of whom threw rocks, dirty diapers and other objects at security forces. Both Saturday and again on Sunday, demonstrators lit trash cans on fire and blocked roads....

Haredi organizers submitted and were granted a request to hold the protest, but promised to limit their activities to gathering and reading from the Torah.

Police fear that the weekend riot is only the tip of the iceberg. Haredi leaders have already issued a formal announcement that they would protest every Saturday until the lot was closed. "I think this was just the opening move," Zaka Chairman Moshe Meshi Zahav said Saturday. "It's very comfortable for the haredi community to paint Barkat as anti-religious; the time is ripe for that. The fact that the first day of the protest garnered thousands showed that it was a success.
Protestors set garbage bins on fire (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

And this is why the municipality decided to open the parking garage:
Over the last several years, all parking lots near the Old City were closed on Shabbat due to haredi pressure. But after a recent decision to bar vehicles from entering the Old City itself on Shabbat, a parking solution for the visitors became more pressing, since many drivers just parked their cars in no-parking zones around the Old City.
I hope that similar riots will not greet this year's Gay Pride March in Jerusalem, which is scheduled for June 25.


  1. Oh, for God's sake. ::sigh::

    Last summer I attended the Gay Pride March with a dear friend. We decided to take it easy: we sat at a Cup o'Joe on Keren ha-Yesod, outdoors, with our ice-coffees, and when the parade came by we cheered and shouted and whistled along with pretty much everyone else at the restaurant.

    While we were there having our delightful afternoon, in the square near my apartment there was a Hareidi anti-march demonstration. I'm glad I missed it; I'd rather have the memories of the quietly joyful Pride Parade.

  2. Conspicuous by its absence from the article: report of anyone being arrested or detained.

    I wait for Mayor Barkat to declare "I don't understand the protests, but it's their right" the next time a Palestinian throws a rock(!)—or even a dirty diaper—at security forces. (Or even a member of the non-Orthodox.)

  3. Actually, I believe that some people were arrested, if you read the linked articles. But it seems to me that a lot fewer were arrested than were actually responsible.

  4. Oh, I was at the gay pride march in Jerusalem last year - see for my account and some photos.