Monday, May 17, 2010

Haredi Demonstrations in Ashkelon


THE big headlines in Israel are the haredi demonstrations in Ashkelon. Groups connected to the anti - Zionist umbrella organization "Edah HaCharedit" demonstrated against the government's plan moving bones from an ancient graveyard in order to build a new emergency room for the local Barzilai hospital.

Israel's secular press is full with articles against haredi society. Not only because of the demonstrations but also due to the new government plan to educate Haredim in order to push them into the job market. Israel's secular society is sick of seeing Haredim studying in Kollels and not going to work. As a matter of fact, many Haredim do work but a high percentage doesn't. Those Haredi study the whole day and their wives are mostly supporting the families by working in hightech or other office branches.

Right and left - wing politicians show their empathy against haredi society and, at the moment, almost everyone and everywhere is going against them. But what kind of impression does secular society get from haredi society ? Let's look at the present demonstrations about moving the bones from an ancient graveyard: This issue has been going on for years and haredi society doesn't want to prevent a new hospital emergency room from the inhabitants of Ashkelon.  Moving bones from a graveyard does include many halachic issues and in the end, Benjamin Netanyahu preferred not to listen to rabbinic suggestions but rather acted on his behalf and sent out an archeological team in order to move the bones. The result can be viewed here: 

Without any rabbinical advice, the archeology team moved the ancient skulls and bones from the graveyard. The vast majority of secular Israelis doesn't understand what the fuss is all about. Why not just moving the bones and build the emergency room ?
Most people don't realize that haredi society has been shown in the most negative way. In the secular paper "Yediot Acharonot", for instance. There has hardly been one day recently where Yediot has not commented in the worst way on haredi society. 

Years ago, the Germany city of Frankfurt asked Rabbis for advice before moving Jewish bones from a ancient graveyard but Netanyahu didn't bother doing so. I was surprised to hear that, in the end, Israel's Chief Rabbinate condemned Netanyahu's actions. This happened due to a Psak Halacha issued by the halachic expert Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliyashiv who said that even if the graves were Gentile graves, the bones still have to be removed in a way of honouring the death and not just being collected and dumped somewhere else.


  1. I am curious, because I read in the news that the bones were ancient and probably those of byzantine pagans? Why would this create a fuss for Jews? Also, can anyone tell my why there were no demonstrations when the bones of Jews (many who had died for Israel) were dug up and relocated from Gush Katif? Seems to me these people have got there priorities mixed up.

  2. B"H

    As I said in the article, the Possek Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliyashiv stated that, in case the bones are from Gentiles, the bones need to be removed under halachic supervision.
    You have to ask Rabbi Eliyashiv why he says so.

    The bones from Gush Katif were a different matter because everything was done by Rabbis and under halachic supervision. Netanyahu refused doing so in Ashkelon and sent an archeology team instead.