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. Pey

    Sounds like right wing Christians evangelicals in this country "waaaah, you aren't allowing me to force my religion down everyone's throat, waaaah, you are discriminating against me!" Give me a break!

    January 2, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  2. evensteven

    It looks like the article is all but ignoring the relevant concern behind these protesting Orthodox Jews, and that is: "Zionists are not Jews, They are Racists"

    We need to take a long hard look at what these people are saying in regards to US Middle-East foreign policy. We've spent decades catering to the AIPAC in this country and it's cost us Billions—arguably Trillions of dollars for invoking the hatred of Terrorists intent on our destruction. We must acknowledge to Arabs the wrong bestowed upon the Palestinian people by our financial and military support of Zionism.

    Zionism is Elitism and that is the ugly step sister of Racism.

    January 2, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  3. M

    Without the support from America, Israel wouldn't excist

    January 2, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  4. Steve-o

    I wonder, does Godwin's Law apply to Israeli Jews?

    January 2, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Slupdawg

      If it were not referencing them, who was it intended for in the first place?

      January 2, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  5. Martina

    CNN = Jewish ---- Fox News = Christian (JUST LETTING YOU KNOW)

    January 2, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Slupdawg

      I would hope both are devoid of ridiculous religious dogma.

      January 2, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • Brian

      Martha = simple minded (just letting you know)

      January 2, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  6. fingerscrossed

    What would happen if the U.S cut ALL ties with Israel

    January 2, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • evensteven

      1) all candidates elected with help from the Jewish Lobby/PAC—the AIPAC—would lose financial support. 2) Arab Muslims would gain new respect for the US. 3) Terrorists would re-evaluate their Jihad against America.

      January 2, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • inga

      hollywood would shut down

      January 2, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • jim22

      USA would be mentioned a lot less in Nobel Prize....

      January 2, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
  7. Jason Kahl

    Those who will not fight for Freedom should not enjoy it...

    January 2, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  8. Jews treat Christians & Arabs terrible

    Jews brainwash stupid Americans so they keep supporting Israel, giving them tax payers money :/ They hate Jesus and ban Christmas in Israel, yet in America they are accepted and live like kings

    January 2, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Slupdawg

      Yes, Americans are tolerant. What's wrong with that?

      January 2, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Bambam

      Your an idiot.

      January 2, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  9. joesmith

    ah, let him without sin, cast the first stone..

    January 2, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  10. Cassandra Chu

    ... Gaza is the world's largest concentration camp... i'm just sayin'.

    January 2, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Slupdawg

      You're just sayin' what?

      January 2, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • dina

      Yes it is and controlled by Hamas.They are the ones holding the people hostageand causing them to live the terrible lives they live, not Israel.

      January 2, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Jason Kahl

      Have those in Gaza swear peace to Israel and it would close in the AM..

      January 2, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
  11. Jews treat Christians & Arabs terrible


    January 2, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • dude1

      Wow that's really messed up, very insightful.

      January 2, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Jason Kahl

      then these "peaceful" people wake up early and lob rockets into schools, strap explosives to them selves and board public buses.

      January 2, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • dude1

      @Jason Kahl, then the next day Israel returns the favor it's a vicious cycle.

      January 2, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • evensteven

      I wonder why these kinds of stories never make the major news outlets here in the US . . .

      January 2, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  12. Plug1

    " Dummies for yahudi's...

    January 2, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  13. gregorio

    I wonder if they like hockey ?

    January 2, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  14. Jose

    Jews think that only their own people died in the holocaust (Millions of non-Jews died as well). Let's not forget the Armenian/Greek/Assyrian holocaust in World War I that killed millions of Christians by the young turks. Jews are so annoying about their cr*p holocaust.... they do it now to Christians and Muslims in Israel

    January 2, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Rachel Greenberg

      Jose, the Holocaust is unique in history in that it is the only time historically when there was an attempt to wipe out an entire people. Yes, millions have died in wars etc, but it was never done systematically and with a stated goal of wiping out every single man, woman and child of a people. Unfortunately that is what makes the Holocaust unique and why it stands out in hisotry. We do NOT want to play the game of our suffering is greater than your suffering. That is a sick game and not the point at all. And, hatred for Jews is a crazy phenomen that has lasted for centuries. So, the Holocaust is just one of many times in hisotry when the Jews have been targeted. You may think of it as whinning or pathetic, but the historical facts are what the are.

      January 2, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • Rachel Greenberg

      Oh, and saying that Jews do the same to Arabs and Christians is just a totally ignorant statement. You've been brainwashed and you're too ignorant to even realize it....

      January 2, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Geoff


      January 2, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Geoff

      Really Rachel? I agree with what ur saying, but alot of those people is talking about were systemically killed too, its just there wasnt any media and the weapons used back then, weren't as sophisticated.,....but the sentiments were the same

      January 2, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  15. dude1

    Religion is like ice cream there's a flavor or every taste.

    January 2, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  16. Angry Mother


    January 2, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • RaKa


      January 2, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Slupdawg

      Gosh, you do seem angry, don't you?

      January 2, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Bambam

      Yes but people in Israel actually work for a living, unlike the lazy welfare generations of America, or the low income migrant workers, or the fat lazy people too dumb to get a job that pays more than minimum wage and too stupid to educate themselves.

      January 2, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  17. Slupdawg

    Goes to show there are religious types that just have to take it too far in every known religion. It's a shame, but true...

    January 2, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
  18. mark shiro

    these people are exactly the reason why nobody should listen to radicals on either side of any issue. everything is planned and done with a photo op to make their point. this infuriates me as a secular jew. the israeli government is hardly anything like the nazis. this is, or at least should be embarrassing to these religious idiots.

    January 2, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  19. Christopher

    @SID....its fine to think that way as a child...but adults and religious authorities should know better...wouldnt u agree?

    January 2, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  20. MashaSobaka

    Look, I'm sorry, but Israel screams "Holocaust" whenever anything happens that they don't like. If they think that's a cheap and disgusting strategy, then they'd better think hard about NOT doing it again the next time they face something inconvenient.

    January 2, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
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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.