In an editorial on Oct. 13, we wrote of the horrible happenings in Beit Shemesh: “It is not acceptable that little girls are being screamed at by grown men. It is not acceptable that little girls must pass through a gauntlet of angry men who are armed with bags of excrement.”
It is not acceptable, yet it has been going on since September. And until last weekend, no one outside that suburban Jerusalem community seemed to care – not in Israel, and not anywhere else in the Jewish world.
Day after day, from the beginning of Israel’s school year, physical and mental cruelties were being inflicted on little children, yet no one outside Beit Shemesh showed a fig’s worth of concern.
Where was the outrage?
The response to our editorial underscored this. “It is not acceptable,” we wrote, “that Jewish leaders both here and in Israel remain silent about this disgrace.”
Yet the silence continued.
We received no letters from anyone – not even our serial letter writers, much less from anyone styled a “Jewish leader.” Organizations that are oh-so-quick to shout “anti-Semitism” at the drop of an epithet offered no comment regarding the epithets of “slut” and “shiksa” hurled by grown men at little girls; nor did they decry the bags of excrement these self-proclaimed warriors of God hurled at their tiny traumatized victims.
That changed last weekend with the coming of the television cameras. Finally, after months of undeniably disgusting acts of harassment and worse, an Israeli television station broadcast the plight of an 8-year-old girl, who cried in fear of having to cross the street from her home to her school.
The video went viral, to use a current idiom. Now, the whole world was watching. Now, with the spotlight turned on, Israel’s leaders and those who claim leadership of American Jewry professed their horror and demanded an end to the charedi violence against little girls.
Was it the tears of an 8-year-old that moved them? Or was it the embarrassment of having the whole world see how uncaring and unfeeling they have been until now?
In the broadcast’s wake, many voices have been raised against “the shame of the charedi.”
It is a shame we all share.