Haredi Jews protesting the arrest of a woman who allegedly nearly starved her child to death, Jerusalem. Photo: AP
When it comes to Hasidim protesting in midtown against Hadassah, an Israeli hospital, Reuters brings you the press release.
Your intrepid blogger (intrepid as in the protest is happening half a block away, and it's been going on and on for several hours) brings you pics and impressions from the scene.
Briefly, an Israeli woman - a member of the Toldot Aharon hassidic sect, perhaps the most tightly knit, socially cohesive and parochial of the groups that make up haredi society - had, according to the charges, systematically starved her little boy. The 3 yo was hospitalized at the Hadassah Hospital and, apparently, there's video evidence of his mother interfering with his care (possibly a Munchausen syndrome by proxy case). The mother was arrested and subsequently released on house arrest and charges of child abuse are pending.
According to today's protesters, doctors at Hadassah hospital are cut[ting] up live people, mostly innocent, religious kids and the Zionist state is persecuting religious Jews. Also, the Zionist mass media feasts on God-fearing Jews. From a report in The Jerusalem Post:
Although many mainstream haredim may still believe police, doctors and social workers that there is reason to suspect that the mother severely harmed her child, they believe the secular news media were too ready to blame and that authorities were insensitive to haredi cultural norms.
Protests and vandalism in Israel, death threats against hospital personnel, and as much inflammatory rhetoric as can fit on a protest flyer.
From The Jerusalem Post:
The Hadassah Medical Organization on Monday expressed its "disgust" about the threats by extreme haredi elements against Dr. Birnbaum.
Birnbaum, an observant Jew with a crocheted kippa and beard who lives in a religious neighborhood, is being protected by security personnel. Other Hadassah staffers have also been threatened.
Meanwhile, Israel Medical Association chairman Dr. Yoram Blachar also denounced the threats against Hadassah, arguing that what is occurring "brings us back to those dark days in which doctors were persecuted for delivering bad news to patients."
The IMA head said he was very worried about the verbal violence and physical threats and the false claims that Hadassah was responsible for the starving of a toddler. "It is slander" against a medical institution that has treated so many people of all walks of life, including haredim, and who owe their lives to the hospital," Blachar added.
To attack Hadassah "causes damage to Israeli society in general," concluded Blachar, who called on the Health, Justice and Internal Security Ministries to stand behind Hadassah and take serious action against those who have been violent and spread slander.
And from today's protest:
According to True Torah Jews, the police arrested [the child's mother] and took her to jail, where they tortured and intimidated her for ten days in the hopes that she would confess to the charges. Bust she remained resolute.
But Hadassah Hospital is not finished. They are still pursuing legal action against the mother which could lead to the court taking all her five children away from her. The Zionist state cannot bear to see its most prestigious and symbolically important hospital be tarnished with the terrible crime of experimenting with an innocent child, so their legal system is cooperating fully with Hadassah to make sure the child's mother gets fully blamed.
BLOOD LIBEL IN JERUSALEM 2009
The Zionist mass media, which thrives on cannibalizing God-fearing Jews, departed on a wicked crusade with bombastic headlines that "Finally the Torturing Charedei Mother has been Apprehended" [as if to say that in Israel there are no murderers and thieves or stories of top politicians being arrested for criminal acts and therefore they have found nothing else "more important" to discuss on the front pages of their newspapers than this fantastic news about a God-fearing Jewish mother.]
These sworn haters of religious Jews tell us that: "This mother has, for almost 2 years, starved her three year old son."
Today's Hadassah Hospital Protest
About 100 or so Hasidim--all young men in traditional dress--penned in an area half on the sidewalk and half on the street in front of a Hadassah-affiliated building. They were holding signs and listening (and periodically cheering) to speeches made by some elderly men (the rabbis, I assume) on a platform.
The crowd was orderly, bystanders where taking pictures, and I saw about 4 cops around--one was mostly directing traffic and the other three were milling about, supervising him.
The signs were in English but the speeches were in Yiddish which, in my opinion, wasn't a great idea since people outside their group couldn't understand their grievances.
My Yiddish is a bit rusty (as in I speak some German and can understand a word here and there) but I did mange to catch something about "the injustice to the young one" (the patient, I assume), and that "Jews will prevail world wide". There was also something about Polizei (police), and, over and over, one of the speakers kept mentioning the "schwarze Mensch" (black man) which I thought odd. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, I wasn't able to figure out the context.
The one dramatic flair I noticed was a group of protesters donning white coats and OR caps, carrying signs and marching single-file up and down the street.
All in all, the protest was an interesting spectacle more for its novelty value than its substance. I think the language barrier detracted from its intended aim to inform the public, and the over-the-top signs/claims made it hard to take the protesters seriously. For more on the latest developments in the story go here.