As many of you are probably aware, there has been a battle going on surrounding the Orot school for girls in Beit Shemesh. The short version of the story is as follows:
The town of Beit Shemesh had been planning a new girls' religious-Zionist school for several years. Eventually, they were given a parcel of land and began building. Before the building could be completed, a new chareidi neighborhood opened up in Beit Shemesh adjacent to the parcel of land where the school was being built. By the time the school was ready to open this past September, the chareidi neighborhood was flourishing.
Various elements within the chareidi community did not want the school located adjacent to their community. They decided that the girls' manner of dress, while in strict accordance with halacha, did not meet their standards. After trying to bring political pressure to bear, they attempted to occupy the building before the school year started. When that failed, they began daily protests outside the school, shouting insults such as "whore" at the girls, who are aged 6-12.
I hadn't heard anything about this after the Yomim Tovim and (perhaps naively) assumed that the battle had ended. Apparently, I was wrong. An article appeared yesterday in The Guardian, indicating that this is still going on. The extreme elements within the chareidi community are still protesting and yelling at the girls, as well as otherwise making trouble in Beit Shemesh.
I detect a certain amount of hypocrisy in the position of the extremist chareidi mindset. They demand that others be sensitive to their customs and mores. For example, they ask that if women come through their neighborhoods, they do so dressed modestly. Personally, I don't have too much of a problem with such a request. "When in Rome..." the saying goes, "... do as the Romans do." A visitor should be sensitive to the cultural norms of the places where s/he visits.
But yet, the chareidim can't or won't respect the cultural norms of others. They move into an established community and then begin protesting if the established residents don't meet their standards of behavior. It doesn't matter to them that the school was planned for that spot long before they arrived.... they're there now and that's all that matters to them. In short, their attitude it "when we're here first, live by our rules. When you're here first, live by our rules." Interestingly enough, in Judaism, we have a name for that sort of attitude. The Mishna in Avos puts it very succinctly: [One who says] what's yours is mine and what's mine is mine [indicates the] type of behavior of S'dom.
Interestingly enough, there may well be another S'dom connection here. One of the reasons brought down for the punishment of S'dom was sexual abnormality. It seems we have that here too. When Rabbi Dov Lipman, a community activist, asked one of the protesters why he was protesting the manner in which a little girl dresses, he responded that "even an eight-year old draws my eyes."
There is a word for people who think about eight year-olds in a sexual manner. Deviant and pervert are two of the milder ones that come to mind. I think that it is obvious that there are deviant and perverted people among the protesters, and that perhaps the chareidi community should look within itself to weed these people out.