Cooler heads have prevailed, and the Haredi mother who allegedly starved her youngest child, has been released from police detention and sent into "house arrest." Her arrest set off big Haredi riots against police, burning trash, smashing things, etc.
I tend to distrust news reports about Haredim the same way I distrust news reports about Palestinians; both are hated sectors in Israeli society (though the haredim that participate in the state are much more privileged.) The woman's cause has been taken up by the non-Zionist Edah Haredit (though not officially) and anti-Zionist Neturei Karta (a group that exists, in Israel, mostly on paper; I doubt that there are more than a couple of hundred "card-carrying" members. ) Some of the more active protesters have come from the Toledot Aharon hasidim; I can't remember which branch.
Why is this happening now? It is an interesting combination of many factors. First, there is the ultra-Haredi distrust of the secular state, its social service agencies, and its law enforcement; second, the omnipresent feelings of victimization; third, the resentment over the secular mayor's decision to keep a parking garage open on the Sabbath (and their subsequent failure to stop it); fourth, the failure over stopping the Gay Rights parade; fifth, the confidence that you can get away with rioting against Jewish police; sixth, the belief that the arrest is bogus because the child has cancer (denied by the hospital) and the mother was taking care of her child.
Oh, and seventh, it's vacation time for yeshiva bachurim, and it's hot outside. Those of us who have lived in Jerusalem for a long time and remember the Shabbat wars over the road to Ramot, Bar-Ilan street, the archeological digs, etc, will recall that protests of this sort are a summer activity.
Today's Haaretz editorialized against the municipality's decision not to collect trash from the Haredi neighborhoods. They called it "collective punishment," and they were right. Of course, with a ex-Kadimah mayor, collective punishment comes easy.
I have been hearing from my modern orthodox/religious Zionist friends, Haredi-bashers, that they are particularly offended that the anti-Zionist Neture Karta has been involved. I have heard more than one person saying, "Why do we let those guys stay here anyway? Let's ship them to Gaza or Iran, where they consort with the enemies of Israel." (Of course, it is a tradition in this country to kick out people who were living here before the Zionists came.)
But seriously, the whole episode raises questions about the level of "inter-vtribal" hate and intolerance. A liberal society cannot tolerate rioting, but a smart society can try to figure out how to negotiate so that it doesn't come to that. Being right doesn't mean being smart.
No more protests until…tomorrow, when the parking garage opens. Let's keep our fingers crossed that nothing else major happens until the 1st of Elul, when the vacation is over.