Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More riots in Jerusalem

While, thank God, we have not had to suffer from terrorist attacks, Jerusalem haredi riots spread to Beit Shemesh. Now the riots are not about a) the gay pride march, or b) the opening of a parking garage on Shabbat, but c) the arrest of a Haredi mother suspected of starving her son, so that at the age of three, he only weighed about 15 lbs.
In a hearing held earlier in the day at the Jerusalem District Court, the head of the special investigation team said of the reactions to the mother's arrest: "There were tactics here befitting organized crime. Doctors, police officers and witnesses were all threatened."

Police are continuing to collect testimonies from doctors who treated the toddler, who is currently hospitalized at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital for severe malnutrition. Experts have posited that the woman in question suffers from Munchausen by proxy. Welfare officials suspicious that she may be actively harming her son set up cameras in the boy's hospital room, allowing the investigators to catch the mother on tape disconnecting the child's feeding tube.
While the first two reasons for rioting make some sense within the Haredi worldview, this last example completely baffles me.

Here are some statements by demonstrators:
"We know the family," said demonstrator Yaakov Avraham Fruchter. "It's a good family, and no one ever sinned … It's just a blood libel."

Chana Weisvish also called the woman's arrest the "blood libel of 2009."

"She said something to the big doctor that didn't suit him, so he said to her 'You won't see your son for three years,' and he took revenge on her. So he brought social workers that testified against her that she's not a good woman …

"We will not be silent about it, because if they can get away with it once, then they'll do it again."

Another onlooker agreed, saying: "I am sure that she is innocent. I know her personally, she is a woman who nurtures her children, nurtures her house, nurtures everything. A pure woman. She sits all day, from eight in the morning until 10 at night, every day by her son … It's really not appropriate for a religious woman to sit with those criminals, women with drugs in jail."

Well, if the woman actually did what she is accused of, she is certainly not religious in my understanding of the term, which includes treating other people kindly! There's clearly something else going on here. The news reports merely say that she's part of an "extremist" group in the Haredi world, without going into any detail about who it is and why they would react in this way.

According to the Failed messiah blog, the woman belongs to the Toldos Aron Hasidic sect - which is indeed one of the most extreme, ascetic parts of the entire Haredi community. Another article on Ynet said that she is part of Neturei Karta.

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