Sabbath riot on the road to orthodoxy
Israel in turmoil: US visit leaves few options for talks as ultra- religious Jews increase pressure on holy city's secular population
Monday 15 July 1996
The battle to close the road is at the centre of the struggle between religious and secular Israelis, because it bisects two deeply religious districts in Jerusalem. In the wake of their successes in the May elections, the ultra-orthodox, or Haredim, hope they will finally succeed in stopping traffic between dusk on Friday and dusk on Saturday.
"It will be closed within two months," predicted David, an ultra-orthodox, watching police horses trying to drive back demonstrators and onlookers. Secular Israelis fear he is right. Israel, the man who had been knocked off his motorcycle to the jeers of onlookers, said, as he picked himself up: "I know it is my duty as a citizen of Jerusalem to drive here."
Much of the violence during the riot came from the police. I was standing outside a clothes shop with some children from the neighbourhood when we were suddenly attacked by the riot squad, one of whom grabbed me round the neck until he was restrained by one of his officers. Later we were soaked by water cannon which drenched bystanders indiscriminately.
Avraham Ravitz, a member of the Knesset for the Torah Judaism party, said: "What happened tonight was a pogrom by bloodthirsty police officers. They beat children and pregnant women. I told them the protests would cease if they left, but they just wanted to hit the people."
This is something of an exaggeration, but the police were extraordinarily aggressive. At one point, a senior policeman with a bullhorn shouted at us to get out of the way. "Relax," said an Israeli journalist. "I don't want to relax," the officer yelled back. A boy crossing the road was grabbed by police and dragged off shouting: "I want to go home! I want to go home!"
The anger of the Haredim was directed more at the police than at secular demonstrators from the left-wing Meretz party. "If it wasn't for the police, all people would do is shout 'Shabbes, Shabbes' [Yiddish for the Sabbath] and throw a few stones," said a bystander.
Secular Israelis believe they are being squeezed out of Jerusalem, where a growing proportion of the Jewish population are Haredim. A sign of the growing intolerance was a notice on a lamp-post in Bar-Ilan which advertised a three-room flat for sale "for religious people only." It comes complete with "a Shabbat elevator", which operates automatically, so that the user does not have to press the button and make forbidden use of electricity.
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 HeForShe campaign: Iceland to follow up Emma Watson speech with UN women's rights conference – for men only
- 3 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
- 4 Ed Sheeran dedicates song to David Cameron
- 5 Now we know whose fault it is if you end up being murdered in Thailand
Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
Car tax disc changes: Five facts you never knew about your (almost obsolete) tax disc
The Aral Sea: Nasa pictures show how what was once the fourth largest lake in the world has become almost completely dry
Thailand beach murders: Hannah Witheridge 'was raped by two men before being killed'
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- < Previous
- Next >
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...
£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...
Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...