Haredi sect in Israel “defends” morals with abuse, violence

Women abused for breaking the law – by praying out loud!

According to Menachem Friedman, a sociology professor at Bar-Ilan University, the orthodox are imposing their rules more forcefully than before and the lives of the city’s women are becoming more circumscribed, and sometimes more dangerous, as a result. Friedman grew up in an ultra-orthodox family and has been studying the Haredi for 49 years. He said the extreme atmosphere is tangible.

Self-appointed moral guardians, dubbed the ‘modesty police’ by Israel’s modern secular media, roam Jerusalem’s ultra-religious neighbourhoods enforcing the voluminous and ever growing list of rabbinical laws such as the recent decree banning the sale of MP4 players. About 100 Haredi women have taken to wearing scarves and veils to cover themselves much like Muslim women.

Yoel Kreus is known locally in the Mea Shearim area of the city as the ‘manager of operations’. He describes himself as a ‘shmira’, a Hebrew word that translates as ‘watcher of Israel’. ‘I make sure the rabbis’ decisions happen … I help you to be a moral person,’ he said.

Much of Kreus’s time is spent checking out reports of illicit use of new technologies by members of the Haredi community. ‘If we discover someone has a computer at home we throw the children out of school,’ he said. Enforcing dictates on women’s behaviour is another vital part of his brief…

Signs warning women not to enter if they are wearing trousers, short sleeves or a skirt above the knees, hang in the neighbourhood. One is affixed outside Kreus’s two-room house where he lives with his wife and 11 children. ‘Every week there’s a complaint about the way women dress,’ said Kreus…

He maintained that separation was necessary beyond the boundaries of the neighbourhood. ‘Having secular people on the buses is a problem. They go like animals, without clothes. Non-religious girls don’t dress properly. They encourage me to sin,’ he said.

Religious nutballs the world over celebrate their intolerance with violence. They are correct in assuming their ideology of life and death is on the decline. Their solution is to increase the violence.


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