US Orthodox groups condemn violence by Jewish religious extremists against Israeli soldiers and police


(JTA) — Orthodox Jewish organizations in America are condemning attacks by religious extremists against religious Jews in Israel who join the Israel Defense Forces and the police.

Amid a rise in recent months in attacks on Israeli soldiers and police officers, the leaders of the Orthodox Union, Rabbinical Council of America and National Council of Young Israel issued official statements condemning the violence.

The statements were issued at the request of New York Orthodox activist David Nyer, he said in a news release sent to JTA.

Moishe Bane, president of the Orthodox Union, said in a statement that “violence by one Jew against another, whether physical or otherwise, is an assault on the Torah values that have been passed down through our mesorah (tradition), from generation to generation. Any such attack by Jews against soldiers of the IDF, to whom every Jew owes immeasurable respect and gratitude, is an attack against each and every member of the Jewish community, and provokes shame and regret in us all.”

The RCA’s executive vice president, Rabbi Mark Dratch, said: “These attacks against both Israeli soldiers and police are violations of Jewish law and show a gross lack of appreciation and respect for those who defend all the citizens of the State of Israel. These attacks further divide and alienate segments of the Jewish community from each other and from Torah.”

Last week, a religious soldier and his family in the haredi Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood were pelted with stones and had to be evacuated by police. In February, an Orthodox soldier was attacked after stopping to pray at a synagogue in a Jerusalem neighborhood. In January, a soldier was taken to the hospital after being hit with stones while driving through the haredi-dominated Ramat Beit Shemesh.

Some haredi sects consider it a sacrilege for religious Jews to serve in the police or military.

Rabbi Avi Shafran, spokesman for the Agudath Israel of America, told Nyer that “such unwarranted violence and abuse against any fellow Jew is beyond outrageous. Assault of Jewish brethren, especially those who have dedicated themselves to the protection of Klal Yisrael in Eretz Yisroel such as IDF soldiers and Israeli police, is indefensible, ugly and wrong.”

Shafran added that bystanders are obligated to intervene to help the person under attack.

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