Israeli politicians decry ultra-Orthodox protesters' use of Holocaust imagery
'Putting on yellow badges on children is a gross offense to Holocaust remembrance,' Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni says on her Facebook page.
Israeli politicians responded to Saturday night‘s ultra-Orthodox demonstration in Jerusalem’s Kikar Hashabbat (Sabbath Square), with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni expressing outrage over protesters use of Holocaust symbolism to protest what they termed the exclusion of Haredim.
“With all due respect to the right of groups in the Haredi world to protest, and it is an elementary right,” Kadima leader Livni posted on Facebook on Sunday morning. “Putting on yellow badges on children is a gross offense to Holocaust remembrance.”
“Even in the debate we are holding today, there are lines we must not cross.” Livni continued. “Hilltop youth calling IDF officers Nazis and now Haredim with yellow badges are sinning against the collective memory of the Holocaust and meaning of the State of Israel”
“Prisoner uniforms and yellow badges with the word ‘Jew’ written in German are appalling and shocking,” leader of the Labor Party breakaway party Independence Barak said in a statement issued Sunday morning. “The use of the yellow badge and young children holding their hands up in defeat is crossing the line.”
“The Haredi leadership, which is responsible in the most part, cannot accept such behavior,” Barak added. “They must put an end to unacceptable behavior of this sort.”
Over a thousand ultra-Orthodox men assembled Saturday night in Jerusalem’s Kikar Hashabbat (Sabbath Square), in protest of what they termed the exclusion of Haredim, a response to the recent outrage over the exclusion of women in Beit Shemesh and elsewhere.
The protesters also expressed their solidarity with Shmuel Weissfish, one of the leading activists in the radical Sikrik group. Weissfish is slated to begin his two-year prison sentence on Sunday for vandalizing a computer store in the same Kikar Hashabbat.
Some of the protesters were wearing yellow badges; others were dressed in prisoner uniforms symbolizing the prosecution of Jews by the Nazi regime during World War II. The protesters were trying to express by way of analogy that they are being persecuted for their Jewish way of life by Israel’s secular majority.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai, himself a member of the Haredi community, admonished the violence, but said “wild incitement” against all the ultra-Orthodox was taking place.
“Everyone knows it is only a small minority of Haredi society is involved,” the leader of the Shas party said in an interview with Army Radio, Sunday morning. “Haredi women and children are being abused and verbally assaulted off camera.”
“I don’t want to my words to be misconstrued as supporting the wild and extremist behavior,” he said. “I am opposed to the use of Holocaust symbolism in demonstrations.”