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Monday, December 23, 2013 

Satmar has Shomrim in Bnei Brak

Neighborhood security patrols are fine, but not if they're run by awful movements like the Satmar, which does unfortunately have its members in Israel, and one the leading interviewees is one. The article says:
That anxiety has its roots in the longstanding prohibition against mesira—turning over fellow Jews to non-Jewish authorities. In the Jewish state, the fact that the police are not gentiles doesn’t necessarily change things for ultra-Orthodox residents, many of whom are already familiar with Shomrim services from having lived or stayed with family elsewhere in the world. Rotter says that for many residents of Bnei Brak, secular state institutions like the police remain foreign, even if staffed by their fellow Jews, and they worry that complaining to police could cause them to face repercussions from their neighbors. “In the haredi environment they don’t want to call the police or get involved in things, or they’re worried someone will hurt them,” Rotter said. “So, they call us and we can be a bridge between them and police.”
If they consider even their fellow Jews anything but, that's long become a very antiquated problem. Especially since a lot of these felons they deal with can be allowed to get off the hook with nary a slap on the wrist.
Efforts to have members of the group undergo training and licensing by the state to qualify them as an official civil guard have failed for two main reasons. First, members like Rotter, a Satmar Hassid, are from ultra-Orthodox sects that don’t officially recognize the state of Israel and its institutions, and second, it would mean that they could no longer operate as they please and would have to work within an official framework.

As things stand, the Shomrim maintain a useful distance from the police, especially when it comes to the most sensitive crimes of all: sex abuse. Rotter gave me a flyer the Shomrim distributed in Bnei Brak recently, which describes “terrible, sinful people circling thorough our neighborhood recently bothering our children in the worst ways possible” and calls on people to report such offenders to the Shromrim. It’s a deeply complicated issue: In Israel as elsewhere, secular authorities often suspect ultra-Orthodox communities of hushing up sex crimes and harassing complainants. But that is slowly starting to change, in part because of efforts like Rotter’s to meet the community’s concerns. “We want to protect the public from these people, but also to protect them, so that he can still get married and his family isn’t destroyed,” Rotter told me earnestly. “If someone is arrested as a pedophile it can destroy their family, their chances to get married, their brothers’ chances.”

“It’s still in its baby steps, but we’re seeing more and more rabbis telling people to go to the police, or themselves bringing information to the police,” said Shabtai Gerberchik, a former journalist for the Haredi station Radio Kol Hai and the national religious newspaper Makor Rishon who in September became the first police spokesman for the ultra-Orthodox press. “They’ve started to realize that the only way to deal with it is through the police, we’re the only ones who can get these people off the street. The old way of the community just kicking them out would just send the problem to someone else’s neighborhood.”
Well that's good news that some religious leaders are approving contact with police. After all, sex offenders should be jailed, or they can repeat the crimes. I suppose I'll have to congratulate this Satmar member for recognizing that sex abuse is a vile crime, but even so, that doesn't excuse his sect's refusal to recognize Israel, or the harm it can cause. And he'll have to ponder that a lot of the Satmar sect's been lenient on sex crimes thanks to the leadership that allows it. And, there's also the problem of how they regard people who don't dress according to their beliefs:
A girl in halter top and a pink helmet came down Hazon Ish, a major thoroughfare, on a scooter. Mendelovitz pointed at her. “This is a major street; she’s just passing through, no big deal,” Mendelovitz said. “But take the Satmar neighborhood, it’s a closed off neighborhood, you don’t go in there unless you’re from there or you’re looking for something. A girl like that goes through there they’ll throw eggs on her, or they’ll call us right away so things don’t get out of hand.”
Well now that's a serious problem. If they're going to treat every woman who dresses that way as though she were a whore, and be so disgusting in their reception towards her, to say nothing of turn their neighborhood into a ghetto, then they clearly need help.

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