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Jewish leaders blast ultra-Orthodox use of Holocaust symbols in demonstration
Ultra-Orthodox Jews wear prison uniforms and other symbols associated with the Holocaust in a protest Saturday in Jerusalem.
January 2nd, 2012
12:50 PM ET

Jewish leaders blast ultra-Orthodox use of Holocaust symbols in demonstration

Jerusalem (CNN) - Israeli political and religious leaders are condemning a weekend protest here in which ultra-Orthodox Jews used symbols identified with the Holocaust to allege they are being unfairly treated by other Israeli Jews over their beliefs.

Ongoing religious tensions in Israel reached new heights Saturday when a group of ultra-Orthodox Jews marched in concentration camp uniforms and donned yellow Stars of David, which Jews were forced to wear in Nazi-occupied Europe.

Demonstrating against what they viewed as incitement against the ultra-Orthodox in Israeli media, about 1,000 ultra-Orthodox men marched through the streets of their neighborhood.

The chairman of Yad Vashem, Jerusalem’s Holocaust museum and memorial, criticized protesters for making what he said was a “false comparison between the reality today to the Holocaust."

“There is no place for this behavior, which hurts Holocaust survivors and causes the cheapening of the memory of the Holocaust,” Yad Vashem's Avner Shalev said in a statement Sunday.

“We are speaking about a handful of extremists. … It is important that the memory of the Holocaust will be a uniting factor in Israeli society and not the opposite.”

Many Israeli politicians also criticized the demonstrators.

“Cynically using the characteristics of what was the attempt to exterminate our nation is one thing we simply cannot accept,” said Cabinet member and Holocaust survivor Yossi Peled. “I am willing to take part in every argument within the Israeli society, but some things are taboo.”

Peled told CNN, “Dressing up children with the yellow ribbons with their hands up in the air, re-enacting pictures of children from the ghetto, is simply inconceivable. Six million Jews, including 1 1/2 million children, cannot be used as a tool in a public debate.”

One irate member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, called on Israel's attorney general to look into pressing charges against those responsible for the Holocaust garb.

“My grandfather and father were in ghettos, and there is no connection between what happened in the Holocaust to the Jewish people and the status of the Haredi in Israel,” Knesset member Marina Solodkin told the Israeli newspaper Maariv, using the Hebrew term for ultra-Orthodox.

“Anyone who used the symbols of the Holocaust last night for the sake of a demonstration trampled the dignity of the hundreds of thousands of survivors who still live in our midst and the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust.”

Saturday night’s rally came in response to a high-profile public campaign against gender discrimination in utra-Orthodox communities and followed a prime-time television report of a young Israeli girl harassed on her way to school for not being dressed according to the strict rules of the community.

The broadcast sparked a wave of criticism and prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak out against the segregation of women, referring to it as “an unacceptable phenomenon that goes against the values of Judaism and democracy.”

Some at the rally held up signs that read “Zionists are not Jews, they are racists” and “We will remain loyal to the laws of the holy Torah.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a U.S.-based Jewish group, called on religious authorities to declare the demonstrators' use of Holocaust symbols a desecration of God’s name.

The use of the symbols dishonors "the memory of the 6 million Jewish martyrs of the Shoah and brings shame on the very community that this protest was supposed to defend,” the center said in a statement, using the Hebrew word for the Holocaust.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Israel • Judaism

soundoff (126 Responses)
  1. david

    Have to disagree with the comment below from Ray. The Chasidic Jews in the US do not, as a group, harass Christians or other Jews. It appears that Ray is a generally intolerant guy and maybe just doesn't like observant people in general.

    January 4, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • IsaacG

      It is extremely necessary to point out that the crazies that made this outrageous comparison and those that spit on 8-year-old girls are not ultra-orthodox Jews, but lunatics that do not understand what it means to be a Jew adherent to the Torah laws pertaining observance and social conduct. The real ultra-orthodox are the one that are not making such a big noise about gender segregation and the likes. Hatred of the secular Jew toward the observant one goes back some 3000 years when the Sages of the Talmud explained that it was due to the pressure felt to by the secular Jew when he sees the observant Jew adhering to the letter of the law. Recent events have only given the secular community an excuse to disapprove and disgrace the Haredi (observant) public. This is a great mistake as the Haredim and the crazies committing recent outrages acts are two separate groups and should not be confused with each other. Peace be with you.

      January 10, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  2. Ray

    unfortunately, these hasids and ultra orthodox are among the MOST hateful and intolerant groups. They want freedom to practice THEIR religion in the US yet they harrass Christians and even other Jews who are not conservative. They are an awful bunch!

    January 4, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  3. Ray

    that is the most vile comment I have read in a while. SHAME ON YOU

    January 4, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  4. Uncouth Swain

    I would have to say that invoking such a tragedy like Shoah in this case is a bit tasteless.

    January 3, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
  5. eyes opened

    You know while all our freinds and families are dealing with so many issues in their lives because of this world that we live in, thats full of so much pain and suffering and we instead think it profitable of our time what ever time e each have on this earth, to share in hateful and meaningless input. And people wonder why it is this world is the way it is, and yet we complain how screwed up is that? Its exactly the reason why we are in this position to begin with its the peoples fault and we are the people, unless your not a human you dont fall into this really large population on this planet called earth. And the truth is self explanitory what goes around comes around or we will reap what we sow.So it doesnt matter what religion you are or what where you live or what life style youve chosen to live,your people,people that either are contributing Hope to your family and friends or your not. What the world needs to surrender to is thier own hearts, be honest with yourself,we cannot obtain peace or joy in our hearts from anything this world can offer or it would be done by now. There has been war and killing lust and greed in the holy land before Jesus was there while He was there and still is, where ever people are its there, sin whether we like it or not its a personal problem, we cant blame the fact that we dont have peace in our hearts on anyone, let alone politics. Politics is a physical issue and lack of peace in the heart is a spiritual issue. hence the 1st amendment. We can use the word of God to establish a moral standard of law for our safety as humans but we cannot expect it to govern the lives and hearts of men and women spiritually, that is an individuals choice,as only you would know if you have or need the desire for peace love and joy within your soul. Religion does not supply this to the heart and niether does politics these are contributers of the absense of of it, LIES or deception, its your life its your spirit its your soul dont let allow anyone to dictate it for you, you the the one that has to deal with all the voices or thoughts in your head that bombard you through out the day that brings you anxity. You are trying to out run your destiny Jesus said I have come that you may KNOW peace and have it abundently. its called faith but one can only acquire it when one agrees they dont have it and the reason they dont have it is because they been trying to aquire it in and through all other methods apart from Christ alone, that He took your place on the cross that He paid your sin debt in full, that when you put your faith in His finished work at the cross you have been forgiven. and then read His word and just trust in His finished work at the cross and your life will start to make sense, this world on the other hand will never make sense but one things for sure you will no longer be confused by it, instead victorious over it and true friends and family will be there once again

    January 3, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  6. HotAirAce

    You are disgusting!

    January 3, 2012 at 12:50 am |
  7. Holy STUPID

    That girl's hand is creepily over-sized.

    January 2, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • anotherGuest

      Actually that's an adolescent male. Part of the problem. No females allowed in that club.

      January 2, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Woof-woof

      The hand is big because the photographer used a wide-angle lens in the tight quarters. The closest parts look grotesquely oversized.

      Oh wow, anotherGuest is right! That's a boy! Creepy!

      January 3, 2012 at 12:42 am |
  8. jim22

    @bastian. You are a perfect proof why some justify hating all Jews. You had a trouble with your girlfriend and you blame it on Jews. You were kicked out of Denmark, Belgium, Serbia, Germany, USA, and bunch of other countries. Let me propose another possible reason. You are insane. You are insane and none of those countries wanted to pay the for mental care bill which would be astronomical.

    January 2, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
  9. Thinker23

    Charmota... I do not believe YOU really exist. I've never seen you and sincerely hope that I'll not have the pleasure in the future.

    January 2, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
  10. Thinker23

    Lucy and everyone else complaining about the bad treatment Palestinian Arabs receive from Israel...

    If the Palestinians did not like the current arrangement they would NEGOTIATE a better deal long ago. They had plenty of opportunities.

    January 2, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Thinker23, couldn't the same be said of the Israelis?

      January 3, 2012 at 10:05 am |
  11. jim22

    @Lucy Jews don't discriminate against Muslims. They discriminate against the terrorists.
    The terrorists are free to choose any religion they want - most of them seem
    to select radical Islam.

    January 2, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  12. jim

    @MashaSobaka You mean - inconvenient -as in AhmadInaJar saying "Let's murder another 6 million Jews?"

    January 2, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  13. countrycook

    You were out there just trying to PROVOKE a reaction by the Jews in THERE own community. No one should go into any religious community with the purpose on trying to FORCE YOUR religion on them. SHAME ON YOU.

    January 2, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  14. Mike

    Perfect. The video says it all. Rachel- get a better perspective.

    January 2, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  15. Charmota

    I don't believe holocaust really happened.... I haven't seen it in my own eyes so I cannot tell whether it happened or not

    January 2, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Roscoe Chait

      What an astonishingly ignorant thing to say. All you have to do is read or watch films that the Nazis proudly made of their exermination techniques.

      January 2, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • jim22

      @charmota I don't believe Paris exists, I haven't seen it in my own eyes so I cannot tell whether it is real or not.

      January 2, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  16. Sweden

    Jews think they are better than other people, then they wonder why they are hated in this world

    January 2, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • wolf775

      Every group thinks they are better than other groups.

      January 2, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • netta

      I am Jewish, and I am ashamed of the ultra religious. They do not represent me, my friends or my family in anyway. Lucy, my boyfriend and I have been together for five years he is christian and he feels no hate. Israel is one of the few countries that are pro-gay, have a woman as a leader and overall are open minded. Just keep in mind that no matter if it is religion or anything else in life, it is never okay to judge a group by something someone bad has done (like the pope). Also, keep in mind that in life too much of anything is bad.

      January 2, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • david

      Well Netta, a lot of your co-religionists are ashamed of you and the choices you make. So, where does that leave us?

      January 2, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • sigmundfreud

      Gee, Sweden. If you are in Sweden, did you wonder why 5 out of the 7 Nobel Prizes in science that were awarded in Sweden a few weeks ago went to Jews?

      January 2, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  17. Lucy

    There's a holocaust againsts Christians and Palestinians today in Israel if you did not know

    January 2, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Rachel Greenberg

      What a stupid and ignorant comment. Do some research. You and Jose are brainwashed and ignorant.

      January 2, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Adam

      Lucy, how much do you know about Israel or pretend to know? I am an American who spent nearly 15 years living in Israel and i can honestly tell you that Christians and Arabs (Muslim or Christian) live together in peace with the Israeli Jews. There is no Holocaust. There is no Apartheid. There is no segregation. Muslims, Christians and Jews all have the same exact rights under the law of the land. Any racism or hate crimes are reported and dealt with just like they are in the US. What you may be referring to are the treatment of those who identify themselves as "Palestinians" who live in the West Bank or Gaza. There is a tremendous amount of controversy inside Israel itself about this and it is what the nation has been trying to deal with for 40 years. Keep in mind, however, that these territories are outside of Israel (at least according to most secular Israelis). The controversial images you are now seeing take place in the Ultra Orthodox sections of Jerusalem are just a handful of fanatic Jews causing trouble and that the bulk of the Israeli population is in complete disagreement with their backward thinking. Now you may be a troll or you may just be uneducated with regard to Israel but to make comments like the ones you made are not helpful to the continuance of the human race.

      Just saying is all.

      January 2, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.