On the morning of Holocaust Remembrance Day 2014, two teachers from Yeshivas Ohr Elchanan were questioned by Beit Shean area police for making a barbeque with students near an IDF/Holocaust memorial in the Yarden Park area. Police felt the actions of the teachers, who were leading some 100 students, was an affront to the solemn Memorial Day atmosphere.
R’ Eitan Meir was one of the rabbonim questioned. He serves as the dorm counselor for the yeshiva. He spoke with Kikar Shabbos, explaining that as a result of delays that occurred during their trip, they remained at the location to eat. They planned to finish the trip by 19:00 but it did not happen and they felt due to the late hour the students had to eat. “We looked for a secluded area and found the park, so we decided it was suitable as it would not disturb anyone” he is quoted saying. Rav Meir pointed out they made certain to be away from private homes as not to create a disturbance.
Meir adds that as the students were eating a patrol unit arrived and the policemen were rude and indifferent. “The policemen explained to us that it is Holocaust Remembrance Day. We told them we are planning to leave the area very soon and there was no intention to compromise the solemnity of the day or to offend anyone. The policemen were insisted that I accompany them for questioning despite the fact their actions compelled us all to remain there far longer than intended”.
The rav added that after he was taken for questioning police lost control and one slapped a student in the face for daring to be photographed alongside the IDF memorial. As a result, reinforcements were dispatched without need, and he was detained for an additional time before being released.
The rav concluded “The puzzling behavior of police does not end here. Suddenly a Yassam commando arrived and instructed us to remain at the location. We did not argue with him. A few minutes later I asked why we are being detained and he responded ‘Because I feel like it’. The behavior of most of the police at the event was accompanied by hatred. One of them threatened to smash our skills. We do intend to file a lawsuit.”
Police were unavailable for comment at the time of this report.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)