Apr 1, 2017

Ultra-Orthodox attack woman at anti-draft demo

Protesters filmed kicking and cursing a passerby at large demonstration in Jerusalem

March 29, 2017

A video of the incident shows the woman walking through the crowd of ultra-Orthodox men and boys, who yell at her to “Get out of here” and “We won,” while also repeatedly calling her a “shiksa,” a pejorative Yiddish term for a non-Jewish woman that derives from the Hebrew for “vermin.”

After being kicked by a young boy, the woman can be seen turning around to grab him but drops her cellphone. As she reaches down to pick it up, additional protesters kick at her and her phone.

Border Police officers nearby then swoop in and pull her out of the scrum.

The protest was the largest yet in a series of recent demonstrations by ultra-Orthodox protesters over the arrest of members of the community for failing to show up to the Israel Defense Forces draft offices.

Community leaders called for the mass gathering. They set up a stage for rabbis to speak and closed a main street in the ultra-Orthodox Geula neighborhood, near Jerusalem’s central bus station.

Police said that although the protest was unauthorized and illegal, they decided to contain the event and monitor it rather than risking violence by trying to break it up.

The event marked a change in tone following weeks of often violent — albeit much smaller — protests by young men, which included blocking traffic, burning garbage and throwing rocks and objects at police. Tuesday’s protest was much larger and largely peaceful.

The event was organized by the supporters of Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, the leader of the Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox community in Jerusalem, who have been protesting the draft for the past few weeks. Unusually the Orthodox Council of Jerusalem — an anti-Zionist extreme faction opposed to any cooperation with the state — joined the protest. Rabbis from both groups spoke from the podium, preaching against the IDF.

The ultra-Orthodox protesters, dressed in their traditional black garb, held signs such as “The State of Israel persecutes Jews” and “The draft edicts — a holocaust for the Torah world.”

Ultra-Orthodox Jews represent about 10 percent of the Israeli population and live in compliance with a strict interpretation of Jewish laws.

Some of them view military service as a source of temptation to young adults to leave the closed world of prayer and religious study.

The ultra-Orthodox are exempt if studying in yeshiva religious schools. However, the issue is controversial with secular Israelis, and attempts have been made to do away with the exemption.

Regardless, they must register at the recruitment office, but some — inspired by rabbis hostile to any cooperation with the Israeli authorities — refuse to even go to the office and are considered deserters.

AFP contributed to this report.

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