January 01, 2012

Let them eat pork!

It's bad enough that most Charedim in Israel evade army service, but if they call a serving IDF soldier a whore, that crosses the red line.  

Pictured here is the unrepentant Shlomo Fuchs, sitting in court where he was indicted on Thursday for sexual harassment and banned from using public transport until his next court appearance.  Instead of apologising, he blames the Israeli media for getting him into trouble.

Hopefully this man will be given a custodial sentence - if only for 30 days - to reflect on his disgusting behaviour and as a deterrent to other Charedi groups who laud him as some kind of folk hero. If he goes to jail, doubtless those same groups will organise the usual rock-throwing and bin-burning demonstration (probably on Shabbat) of the kind that follows any justice meted out to Charedim, whether for wife-beating or child abuse.  Hopefully the mounted police will then properly show the same force as they most improperly  used against the settler women of Amona

Setting aside the concurrent nuisance of Jewish-Taliban nutjobs in Beit Shemesh, the Fuchs case is not just about abusing a young girl, or insulting the army he refuses to serve. It's about that ubiquitous bad behaviour by Charedim on public transport that most of us have witnessed countless times and will continue to see to our shame and disgrace.

Wherever you fly, there is always at least one of these bearded brothers making a nuisance of himself. Whether it is bartering overweight allowances at the check-in desk (they can't wedge their heels into the new scales anymore!) or being the last to turn their phones off and the first to turn them on, or being the last to board and the first to jump up and empty their luggage from the bin, and then push to the front to be first off the plane.  [REDACTED]

Now, I am sure that any cross-section of the population has the same proportion of such derelicts. But we don't have to do this wearing a badge!  I don't see many Christian vicars, or Buddhist monks misbehaving on planes. And Muslims may well be trying to blow up planes with their underpants but at least they don't steal the soap and headphones.

I was on a 10-hour Virgin flight not long ago where these two velvet yarmulkas were making a total nuisance of themselves, and boasting about the number of trips they make in a year. When we disembarked I asked them if they would do me and all of our people a huge favour by wearing keffiyehs on their future flights.

Personally - and speaking an an orthodox Jew myself - I hold the rabbis and yeshiva heads totally responsible for this. They are supposed to teach Torah with Derech Eretz  ..  literally - respect for 'the way of the land'. 

I am no rabbi, but I am as convinced as I can possibly be that all the Torah that people like Fuchs and his airplane equivalents have learnt - or will ever learn in the future - is worth absolutely nothing when weighed against the Chillul Hashem they create both amongst secular Israelis (biased as they may be) and the outside world.  

As for the rewards they may expect in the next world, they would all be better off flying every Yom Kippur eating British Airways ham meals bareheaded. 

If Charedi parents and rabbis are not prepared to face this challenge in upbringing and education, let us at least update the Tefillat Haderech (travellers' prayer) to include protection from having to witness this dreadful behaviour, let alone [... REDACTED].

(Note: Two sections have been redacted at the request of a Rabbi whom I respect and wishes not to throw fuel on this fire)

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