Street Violence in Beit Shemesh

Photo by Yossi Eli, NRG

Last week a Beit Shemesh woman named Natalie Mashiach drove into Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet, an area occupied by extremist haredim. Dressed in a sweater and pants, Mashiach got out of her car to hang signs as part of her job for the national lottery. A group of men poured bleach on her and attacked her car with stones, breaking the windshield. They slashed the tires too. She was not injured, despite a rock being thrown at her head. But Mashiach was certain she was going to die.

She describes the attack in the video below (Hebrew).

It sounds like these residents intend to send a message to outsiders: Don’t go into our neighborhood. Of course the reverse isn’t true.  When there is a need for a medical specialist or a visit to the municipality, it doesn’t matter how many “immodest” women are on display.

Rafi’s post, Mashiach Isn’t Welcome in Ramat Beit Shemesh B, describes his encounter with the woman shortly after the attack.

Blogger Beth Frank-Backman of Jacob’s Bones focused on the fifty bystanders who did nothing to disrupt the attack.  She points out that street violence occurs all around the world, with women the most common victims. This article, The 3A’s of Street Harassment Disruption, discusses a common misconception about street violence: eliminating threats and eliminating risk are not the same:

In terms of sexual assault, risk management involves women taking specific actions and measures to reduce their own risk of being assaulted. But these actions do nothing to reduce the over all threat caused by Gender Violence. Threat management involves changing the culture of how women are perceived and treated in order to irradiate Gender Violence in society.

It is essential to understand the difference, and the relationship between threats and risks in order to make sense of the discussions that revolve around sexual assault victim blaming. The subject of victim blaming arises when people question what the victim did or did not do before the assault. But the entire debate that centers around blame and responsibility is the result of a misunderstanding of the concept of threat and risk management.

If we apply this distinction to Tuesday’s event, Mashiach could have lowered her risk by putting on a long skirt before stepping into Ramat Beit Shemesh B. But the threat would remain the same. Once street violence becomes acceptable in a community no one is safe, including the residents.  People don’t need a “good” reason to attack someone, especially the most vulnerable. Then everyone who has to walk on that street is terrorized.

The only way to stop street violence is to send a strong message that it won’t be tolerated, by residents and non-residents alike.

And of course, this same point applies to the pedophilia case in Jerusalem. Parents can try and reduce the risk of their child becoming victimized, but the focus must be on removing the threat.

More on Beit Shemesh:

Documentary on Beit Shemesh School Battle

Separate Sex Sidewalks and Civil Rights

Beit Shemesh School Battle




  1. This is so upsetting. I like the title of Rafi’s post “Mashiach Isn’t Welcome in Ramat Beit Shemesh B.” The Rebbe said we need to do acts of loving kindness to bring Moshiach (the messiah). The Rebbe implemented a lot of “mitzva campaigns” getting secular women to light Shabbat candles and men to put on tefillin, even if just once. He never said anything about pressuring pants-wearers to wear skirts or stay away from observant men. Natalie wasn’t exactly dancing around top-less (Not that anything should warrant that level of violence!). This is very scary for women everywhere, and a terrible embarrassment and “chilul Hashem” for all Israelis and Jews. Don’t we Jews have enough common enemies not to attack our own people!?

  2. but it is being tolerated and even encouraged by the Eida, if this report is accurate:

  3. Anyone trying to ‘understand’ the Haredi extremists, needs to read this post by Rabbi Jonathan Duker: “What Are They Thinking”

    “The ‘kannoim’ see anyone who violates the Torah as an evildoer. No excuses.

    In the ‘kannoi’ world view, only they are the true Jews, everyone else falls into the category of the “eirev rav” (mixed multitude). This is the true history of the Jewish people. In every generation there is small group of “real” Jews, all else are the “eirev rav”.

    And it is not the job of the Jews to teach Torah to the mixed multitude, rather it is their job to shout the truth regardless of if anyone will listen.

    Screaming in protest is not something they do as means to an end. Rather it is the essence of their religion.”

  4. ruth cohen says

    well its good that this is spoken out in public now. about time. the more attention is generated to specific cases the better. it forces the indifferent to wake up. it forces society to see how ugly it is. it forces the religious to clean house
    when i came to jerusalem 9 years ago and saw that some subjects are not spoken about i started to speak about them. no more hiding behind lies. out with the truth.
    no wonder today i am publically fighting to expose the perverts here. and as i was putting up a new poster angel news presents day of judgement last week, a young man walks up to me who i met recently and lets me know that he was kicked out of school as a teacher in usa for starting with a 17 year old. he came to confess to me. how unreal.
    so we need to shine the light and watch them self destruct.and this disgusting behaviour must be shown to be disgusting and not accepted. i dont accept , you dont, good we are 2 then we are 2 million and then we have real power. we dont accept it. its disgusting it has to stop. we have power we have to demand that our men behave or else they will pay such a heavy price that they will stop.
    i warned 2 different men of their bad behaviour in something else, they did not listen. one lost his child to social services, and one had his house and business burnt down. there are consequences to bad behaviour. they will pay and we must make them feel the pain of wickedness.

  5. Well said Ruth.
    These people are behaving like uneducated, roaming ruthless gangs, only interested in violence and intimidation. We have goyim here in the UK who behave just like them.
    I’d love to see them removed from our beloved Jerusalim and placed here in the UK which is more suited for their behaviour; they’d have been fined and locked up long ago.

  6. but the focus must be on removing the threat.

    Yes! For Charedim the focus must be on educating the next generation or two to be tolerant of other people in their midst. Same for Arabs.

  7. It’s just so difficult for me to come to terms with this. So much baseless hatred. So sad. 🙁

  8. Unfortunately they claim that people like the lady are forcing immodesty on them. That does not justify violence. Their existence is fuelled by hatred. One does not have to work on yourself , constantly be a kidush hashem if the others are evil. There is no longer a concept of kidush hashem or chilul hashem if others are considered as threatening your spiritual existence. I am sure the violence is the way they raise their kids, deal with their wives and any person who gets in their way

  9. allan this had nothing to do with tzinut. they’ve been doing this stuff for years, before the mothers starting bring the girls to school, back when it was a boys’ school.

  10. Nurse Yachne says

    I said it before the attacks at Orot Banot, and I’ll say it again: I’m NOT going into RBS again without either a sidearm, a taser, or an equivalently armed bodyguard.

  11. My family is in the begining stages of planning a vacation to Jerusalem in 2014, now I am wondering if that is a good idea at all. (My father is worried about rockets. I find this to be far more damaging and fearful.) I can spend my vacation money elsewhere & feel safer (not incedentally fund this violence).

    • This is still a pretty fringe phenomenon – I wouldn’t worry about coming across it on your travels. In general any place that a tourist would actually WANT to go is not going to be overrun with religious extremists. The possible exception to that rule is the Old City of Jerusalem.
      And since this is a fringe phenomenon, I wouldn’t worry about your tourism money funding it.
      That said, there are many cities in Israel that might be better for you if you want to avoid all religious extremism in any form. Personally I think Tel Aviv is a wonderful vacation spot – on the beach, train line connecting you to all the other coastal cities, museums, near the beautiful Old City of Jaffa, and more.

      • How do these religious extremists make a living/support their families? (in general, my assumption is that for the most part they are not doctors, lawyers, police officers, store clerks, etc.)
        If you say that they are students, then the State is supporting them (or is that an erroneous assumpation).
        The State gets some of its support through tourism.

  12. ruth cohen says

    a – you got to be kidding me, now you dont feel safe in israel. hello lets get some facts here. forgot you are a jew and this is your only home, ok next lets go visit safe countries,egypt,iran.iraq, china and get -poisoned from all the junk they are killing their people with,food,water,milk. stay in america and have a flood or a fire or snow. go to europe goody goody lets see where is a safe country where you are not a target oh there is none
    i really resent this negative speech against our land. -our land given to us by god. the only safe country in the world is israel because only here hashem protects us

    .why are you not worried about yourselves in goy heaven because it is all going to crash down on your heads one day.
    i use my facebook to tell the jews to come home, either by choice or with hooks in your lips and noses as it written, not by
    such a lack of faith in god and such faith in your feelings. need to do some hesbon nefesh. since when were feelings above torah laws. come home jews. written.stone.
    i will stay here and here i am fighting the mafia and still alive. if that aint faith in action, then what is.

  13. ruth cohen says

    there is no hebrew word for fanatic, it does not exist. bringing english words to try and reinvent a word that does not exist is wrong. there is a reason why the word does not exist. we are not a fanatic nation. never have been and never will be.
    stop painting us in the pc goy words that lie about us and the torah and the language god gave us. it is blasphemy to do this. religious extremists, we dont have them. they dont exist in the jewish world its a word dreamt up by the dream team of the self hating left wing. stop using it.

    extremists,fanatics are the suicide bombers,the killers of jews because they are jews
    jews who differ in their views are not fanatic – jews who believe that this is our land only are not right wing, they are tanahi, following the bible. they are not fanatic.those who want to paint them as crazy,obstacles to peace are wicked. do not join them in their wickedness.jews are not fanatic.

    that we have badly behaved thugs – who i personally have been at the receiving end of, is ugly as we are supposed to be a light to the nations. that does not make them fanatic. there is a small group of highly unreasonable violent men that makes them disgusting pigs. that is a far cry from suicide bomber.

    the damage they do is harsh but they dont kill anyone in their ugliness. yes they need to be punished severly – its horrible. but dare not lump them with cold bloodied murderers. as for avoiding areas where religious live, then dont come to israel. everywhere are religious and god bless them all. they are the glue of our society. i personally have met many here in 9 years in jerusalem and most of my experiences have been – kind people and very helpful to me in all sorts of situations.

    i will not let the few nutcases paint the others as unclean. with this thinking as we say here, go away, we dont need you here if you are coming to cause disruption. we are working to get unity not high handed comments that make one high and the other garbage.. dont do this in israel not even in tel aviv . its disgusting.

    there are men who need to die now, they are pedohiles. they are not fanatics either. they are just pure evil. jews are not fanatics. stop the lies. i hate these stupid empty meaningless words designed to show how superior one jew is over another. that is a lie – stop lying and messiah will come.