From Israel: “A Particular Outrage!!”

Times are such that there is no end of outrages to address.  But here I want to focus on a very specific one.

Reports come to me every so often about people on the left who express fears that our government is going to turn the country into a theocracy.  This is nonsense; Israel is and will remain a democracy.  

Perhaps these warnings are simply a tactic for generating unease about the government within the general population.  

But at a deeper level these fears indicate basic misunderstandings about religious Jews. Even worse, they sometimes indicate hostility towards them.  Sadly, there is a strain of thought within the secular portion of our society that encompasses an antipathy towards religious people, seen as the “other.”  Consider deputy Tel Aviv mayor Reuven Ladianksy who went ballistic when a prayer service was held on Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv during Pesach in 2020.  He wrote on his Facebook page: “I intend to lead the secular-green front which will concern itself with preserving the interests of Tel Aviv…I have the energy, the determination, and the experience to keep Tel Aviv secular and liberal…” (emphasis added)


There are some 60 synagogues in greater Tel Aviv, and so obviously there are religious people in the area. But Ladiansky saw no reason to share Tel Aviv’s public spaces with them.  The prayer service did not co-opt another event, nor was there remotely any coercion for people to attend. And yet it angered him.


I would guess that in many cases, fears are promoted by persons in favor of Israel as a state of all its citizens, rather than a Jewish state. And so let us be clear on this point: Israel is a democracy, but it is also a Jewish state, and must remain so.  We cannot allow legitimate expressions of Judaism that exist within the State to be turned into evidence that we are headed towards a “theocracy.”

The very same people who are expressing fears now were quiet when the Arab Ra’am party, headed by Mansour Abbas, joined the coalition of Bennett and Lapid, a mere two years ago.  The fact that Ra’am is the political wing of the Southern Branch of the Islamic movement and anti-Zionist didn’t bother them.

But let the Religious Zionist party, headed by Bezalel Smotrich (pictured), and Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Strength), headed by Itamar Ben Gvir, become part of a governing coalition and alarm bells are ringing.

Credit: Sraya Diamont


What particularly draws my ire with regard to these current accusations is how very ironic they are.  The bottom line is that sometimes religious Jews – rather than trying to impose a “theocracy” in which all must abide by Jewish law – find that they themselves are not accorded their full rights.  

In this regard, let us look first at gender separation. Some religious Jews – not just ultra-Orthodox or haredi Jews, either – believe that close (let us say touching) proximity between the genders, except with regard to close relatives, is inappropriate in a number of settings because it can lead to immodesty, invite improper touching, etc.  And so, there are cries about how this government is going to force all public events to have gender separation.  But that is not the case at all.               


I had written previously about a religious group that was prohibited by the court from having an event (I believe a speaker) with gender separation in the audience. Now a more troublesome situation has developed. If there are Jewish groups that adhere to a standard that prohibits men and women who are not related from sitting next to each other in close proximity at public events, even more so are these religious Jews unwilling to participate in mixed gender swimming.  


At the beginning of this month, Minister of Environmental Protection Idit Silman announced intention to begin a pilot program that would address the needs of religious Jews seeking separate swimming hours.

Credit: Twitter @iditsilman

Please pay careful attention to how she explained this pilot program (emphasis added):

“Israel’s natural resources belong to everyone, and therefore upon assuming office I put an emphasis on finding creative solutions to make public spaces and parks accessible to all publics, including the haredi populations. [note: other religious groups not haredi as well]  

The pilot program will only run outside the official operating hours and will give more sectors the chance to enjoy the natural springs that have stayed away until now because of their lifestyle – but without impacting the members of the general public who bathe there during normal hours.”


The final parameters of the plans for the pilot pinpointed Haniya Spring in the Judean Mountains National Park and Enot Tsukim on the northern side of the Dead Sea (pictured) as the two sites that  would be involved; hours before the springs opened to the general public would be utilized.

Credit: Deadsea.com


Sound good?  I thought so.  But Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara had other ideas.  She published her opinion last week that these changes cannot proceed without “legislative authorization.”   That is, a law has to be passed.  The attorney general’s opinions are considered binding (another issue for another day), and so she has now killed this pilot program.

Wrote David Israel of the Jewish Press: “Now, you and I know what would happen once the coalition passes such legislation: an army of ‘civil rights’ groups would petition the High Court of Justice claiming they oppose this or that principle of equality, and the court would happily revoke the legislation.”

He referred to this opinion as a “brazen sabotage of an attempt to meet the needs of deserving Orthodox Jews in a manner that does not harm anyone else”…  

MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) said (emphasis added):

“In the AG’s office, the term ‘equality’ exists only regarding a certain public and not when it comes to the haredim, the religious, and the Arabs [religious Muslims adhere to the same modesty strictures]. The natural springs in Israel belong to everyone and not only to certain communities. Can someone explain to me why the haredi woman who wants to bathe separately does not deserve equality?



Stack this reality against the hysterical charges of theocracy.    


Yet, as troubling as all of this is, there are issues involving Jews that are far more disturbing.  And it is ultra-Orthodox Jews in particular who are targeted – they are viewed with unfounded suspicion and aspersions are cast upon them.  

The situation I describe below is complex and has shifted over time.  

Please read this carefully to the very end.  It is exceedingly important for the truth to be brought forward and shared widely.  

Almost two weeks ago near the Palestinian Arab village of Burqa in the Shomron, a Palestinian Arab was shot and killed by an ultra-Orthodox Jew.

This Jew, Yehiel Indore, 22, from the nearby farming village of Oz Zion, had not gone out to kill an Arab on Friday evening, August 4.  He was tending a sheep flock when he was accosted by a group of Arabs who began threatening him.    

“I was sitting in the pasture, and suddenly nine or 10 Arabs with clubs arrived, threatening me: ‘Wait a second, we’re coming for you.’ After 15 minutes, I saw that people were gathering in the area below me, and suddenly, a mass of 30 or 40 people began to surround me from all directions and throw stones at me,”  Indore testified last week.

He called for support from fellow Jews from Oz Zion.  They attempted to drive the Arabs away but found that more Arabs had come out and were after them.  “We tried to escape the whole time [but] they attacked us from several directions. People around me recited…Shema Yisrael because they thought it would be their death.”             

Indore had a gun, a legally licensed personal weapon (not surprising that he would carry one when out alone in the field, and he was not the only shepherd who was armed).  He shot it in the air to frighten the Arabs away, without success.

Along with firecrackers, rocks were being thrown by the Arabs – boulder-size, not pebbles.  And let us clearly understand that such attacks can be lethal.

One rock hit Indore in the head.  It might have killed him, and it did severely injure him. I thought it important that everyone see what was done to him.

From a tweet by Yosi Eli removed by Twitter

It was only after he was injured that Indore shot directly at his assailant and killed him.  This was a clear case of self-defense, but that is not the way security officials saw it.  On Saturday night, at a hearing in the Jerusalem Magistrate Court (which he clearly could not attend because he was in intensive care in the hospital following surgery), it was determined that charges of murder would be levied against him.  Murder with a “nationalist” motive, i.e., he was out to kill an Arab.

He could not be arrested because of his medical condition, but a police officer was stationed outside his hospital room.

What was clear at that hearing was that neither the Shin Bet nor the police had investigated or arrested any of the Arab rioters at that point.  In fact, authorities had secured all of their information from the Arabs.


Other Jews were arrested because of their alleged involvement with what had happened.  All were released except one, Elisha Yered.

Credit: Twitter

As far as I understood, the main charge against him was that he picked up Indore’s gun, which was apparently dropped, and brought it home.  Had he not, it would have ended up in Arab hands.  And he called the police the next day to tell them he had it.

There was also dissatisfaction on the part of the police that Indore had called for the help of his Oz Zion associates instead of calling them. Just possibly, I will suggest, he knew his friends would be there a good deal more quickly.


It took three days until two Arabs were arrested in conjunction with the incident. In the interim, the police sought to keep Yered under arrest.  (It was a moot issue with Indore, as he was in the hospital.)  The lawyers of these two sought house arrest.  But six times the police went to court seeking the right to keep them under formal arrest; the court said there was no evidence that justified this.

The prosecutor’s office maintained that Yered “endangered public peace.”  Really?


Today they are under house arrest and the charges against Indore have been modified – the “nationalist” motive has been dropped but he is still under suspicion for killing the Arab “with intent or indifference, participating in a riot, conspiracy to commit a crime and obstruction of justice.”  The police were not happy that he refused to go out to re-enact the crime scene, citing his medical condition.

The claim of self-defense here is clear, and if this is not self-defense, this claim can be erased from the law books,” said his attorney, Nati Rom of Honenu.

We do not yet know how this will conclude, but a great deal has transpired that is greatly disturbing: Jews are attacked by Arabs and end up being the bad guys because they defended themselves.


This Tuesday, Yered described his interrogation.  In part, he wrote:

“…after I said that we were one step away from being murdered in the incident and it was a matter of clear self-defense, the investigator contradicted me: ‘If you knew that the incident was going to escalate and become so dangerous and you understood…that they came to attack and maybe even worse, why did you take a gun with you to the place?’ Yes…according to the investigators of Israel’s security services, if you are a Jew, you must be slaughtered quietly and accept your fate…”



On August 8, a large number of senior rabbis in the religious Zionist community wrote a letter protesting the behavior of the law enforcement agencies in this case. “Unfortunately, there is no search for the truth here, but an attempt to please the international community,” they wrote.  


I believe this charge has validity, as officials, knowing the world is watching, bend over backwards to show they can arrest Jews and be fair to Arabs.  But I also believe it is not the whole truth.

There is a stereotyping of ultra-Orthodox Jews as troublemaking radical “settlers.”

National Unity Party leader Benny Gantz on August 6 warned of the development of a “dangerous Jewish nationalist terrorism.”  Merav Michaeli, the fool head of the Labor party, referred to Indore as a “terrorist” whose family should be deported. The US State Department repeatedly referred to the incident as a “terror attack” committed by “extremist settlers.” 


How did we get from Jews defending themselves to being terrorists??

Do I think that if the shepherds who were attacked had been clean-shaven, bare-headed secular Jews, with close-cropped hair, the situation would have been viewed the same?  I do not.  It grieves me to say this, yet I must say it: this is a case of facing down an ugly situation in order to make it better.  This is the only way to go forward!


Please read the article “What happened in Burqa?” linked directly above. Author Akiva Van Koningsveld has done a superb job of documenting the situation and providing invaluable background information.  

And please make certain that others know about this.

On August 9, at the invitation of the Binyamin Regional Council, Koningsveld participated in a tour of the region where the incident under question had taken place.  He reported (emphasis added):

“The topographical features of the area cast serious doubt on widely-circulated claims that the Jewish group sought the confrontation, a spokesperson for the council explained. Crucially, Burqa is not visible from the site—it is located at a much lower altitude, and maps indicate the Arab rioters had to hike approximately 500 to 700 meters (550 to 765 yards) uphill before encountering the shepherd.

“The entire area, all the way up to Burqa’s entrance, is classified as Area C under the Oslo Accords, added a security official, meaning that Israel has full administrative and security control there and Israelis are allowed to be there without restrictions…

“Earlier this month, Israeli Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter applauded farmers’ role in protecting state lands in the region. ‘There are no better guardians than hundreds of sheep, tended by an Israeli shepherd, of course,’ Dichter stated…

But data collected by the regional council suggests that Arab aggression against shepherds has been on the rise in recent weeks.

Jewish farmers are grazing their sheep in open areas; Arabs don’t like that, even if it happens in Area C. They’re trying to stop them by using violence. … The farms are constantly attacked because the Arabs understand it’s a fight over open land,” stated [council representative Tzur] Blonder.”

Credit: Honest Reporting

Could it possibly be that the security forces did not have this critical background information?


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.