Protestors Get Smart–And Mean

We haven’t written much about it on this blog, but in the past year in Israel there have been a lot of protests and demonstrations by members of the ultra-Orthodox or Haredi population aimed at various secular institutions they disagree with, ranging from the government et al, to a parking lot that’s open on Shabbat, and a company (Intel) with offices open on Shabbat.
Especially in Jerusalem, the protests have been a rather big deal, and have caused a lot of headaches among the police and the secular community. Recently some secular groups have started counter protest measures that are surprisingly effective. According to Haaretz, they spray painted God’s name on the sidewalk. Walking on God’s name is a halakhic no-no, so protesters had to disperse around the graffiti in order to avoid sinning. There was other offensive graffiti as well:

In the case of the protest at Intel, the secular underground arrived at the scene the day before, wrote the graffiti, which included derogatory slogans against Rabbi Yitzhak Tuvia Weiss, a head of the Haredi community. One of the slogans that apparently affected the demonstrators most was that describing the rabbi as an Amalekite.

The underground also dispersed pornographic material at the site, which was like spraying tear gas at the protesters, who fled in disarray at the site of the smut.

On the one hand, this strikes me as an incredibly clever and ultimately peaceful way of stopping these riots and protests. On the other hand, it’s unbelievably disrespectful. I really think the ultra-Orthodox protesters are in the wrong here, and in the past similar protests have turned violent (which, by the way, is against halakhah…) but passing out porn and spray painting God’s name on the ground is incredibly mean-spirited. Why is it that no one ever seems interested in taking the high road in Jerusalem?

Oy. This just makes me so sad.

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