Today’s headline of the daily HaMevaser reads “Hate Rally Fails”, referring to the event hosted by the dati leumi community of Beit Shemesh. Depending on whom one asks, the rally was held for a number of reasons, including a showing of support for women and their battle for equal rights; to express solid opposition to segregated bus lines; to send a clear message to hoodlums who perpetrate unacceptable acts that they do not represent the chareidi community; that the dati leumi community of Beit Shemesh is not going to stand by and be run over by chareidim; or all of the above.
Whatever the case, the thousands expected to attend did not and only a few hundred people were on hand to show solidarity with the dati leumi community of Beit Shemesh. The latter has been battling extremists since the beginning of the school year after the latter set their sights on the local dati leumi school building, seeking to oust the girls to permit using the school for their own tzibur, realizing the demographics today favor the rapidly growing chareidi community. A growing number of dati leumi Beit Shemesh residents,those who founded the community, are opting to move for they are unwilling to live as a minority is a predominately chareidi community.
The rally got underway shortly after 6:00pm, and speakers included the head of the Kadima opposition party, Tzipi Livni, and Labor party leader MK Shelly Yacimovich. Not much more than 12 hours after the rally dispersed, a chareidi male was arrested on a Jerusalem bus in the Ramat Eshkol neighborhood after he spat and cursed a female soldier who was seated in the front of the bus.
The issue of women’s rights and mehadrin bus lines has taken a bit of a back seat in the mainstream media today, Wednesday, 2 Tevet, but due to the fragile situation, this can change in a moment as a result of an incident, such as the one occurring earlier in Ramat Eshkol.
For some local chareidi residents, last night’s event in Beit Shemesh resulted in an uncomfortable situation when some of the participants in the gathering used the opportunity to express their disdain for local chareidi residents. A large police force was on hand to maintain order and Baruch Hashem, the event passed without major incident.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)