Haredi Society Calls for Action After Meron Tragedy

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Haredim in Israel demand control over their internal affairs, often rejecting outside oversight over any communal issue, whether it be schooling or religious practice.

But in the reaction to the tragedy at Meron, we are seeing an unusual level of internal criticism of Haredi leaders and a call for government to intervene, writes Haviv Rettig Gur at Times of Israel. Instead of reflexively blaming the police for the stampede at Meron, Haredi journalists and others are admitting that their leadership failed to protect them from a death trap and are calling for more oversight of the annual festival by police and other state institutions.

... the shattering images from Meron cut through the glib self-assurance and silenced, at least for the moment, any boasts about Haredi self-rule.

And as the confident voices dwindled into shocked silence, other voices came to the fore, cries of angry self-critique that are rarely heard from the mainstream of Haredi society.

The voices all carried a single message: The state’s kowtowing to our leaders has brought this disaster upon us.

Yossi Elituv, editor of Mishpacha, the largest-circulation Haredi weekly, urged his followers not to focus only on police errors or lack of government oversight.

“Our community also has a duty to learn lessons,” he wrote on Friday. The first lesson: That the state must step in and end the chaos. “Our first and immediate task is to free the mountain from the control of the [religious] endowments…. The state needs to establish a professional authority to run the site….Take the mountain away from the endowments and confer on it the status of the Western Wall, with zero tolerance for rule-breaking.”

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