Another day, another ugly incident in Meah Shearim. In this case it's the recent mob violence directed towards a Charaeidi man who dared to show up in the neighbourhood wearing a Tzahal uniform. As the story is told by the Israeli media, he was set upon by the locals, had to take shelter in an apartment and then had to be rescued by a special squad of police who themselves were attacked by the mob. One shudders to think of what would have happened if the young man hadn't found a place to hide.
These people are Jews? They're so Orthodox that they're Ultra-Orthodox? What does that even mean anymore?
In the wake of the attack it has been noted in more than one place that there has been no statement of condemnation from any of the "Gedolei Yisrael", the leadership of the Chareidi community. Some have noted a paucity of reporting of the incident in the Chareidi press. Comments can be found on-line that downplay the severity of what happened and emphasizing that the soldier wasn't hurt so why get upset?
So why haven't the "Gedolim" issued a statement? I would like to humbly suggest some reasons which will also cast a light on the nature of leadership in the Chareidi community.
1) Isn't it obvious? Despite the anger and hate of Israel some in the Chareidi leadership possess, no major Chareidi leader, not even those in the Eidah Chareidit, would promote violence against other Jews, let alone threatening their lives, chalilah. Why should they apologize or issue statements when it's obvious they don't approve of this behaviour?
2) How often does the President apologize? When an American commits a crime somewhere, does the President of the United States go on television to issue a statement about how this act doesn't reflect America's values, etc.? So why should the Gedolim have to issue a statement in this situation? This wasn't an approved activity promoted by them but a random act of violence. Besides, if they had to issue a statement every time a Chareidi misbehaves they'd have no time to learn Torah!
3) Who exactly should issue the statement? From the outside Chareidism looks monolithic. From the inside it's a community of communities, disparate in values and beliefs. No one "Gadol" speaks on behalf of all Chareidim. Nor do the "Gedolim" have regular board meetings in order to flesh out common policy. The Eidah Chareidis wouldn't feel a connection to a statement by Rav Shteinman, shlit"a, nor would the Yeshivish care about a pronouncement from Ger.
4) What exactly happened anyway? Remembe that the "Gedolim" aren't like regular people. They do not read the newspaper. They don't watch the news on TV or listen to the radio. They certainly don't look it up on the internet! Chas v'shalom! They are entirely dependent for their information about the outside world on their handlers and those handlers can paint any picture they want without fear of being exposed for being manipulative and dishonest. If any "Gadol" has even heard about this incident you can be sure the version he was told bears little resemblance to what actually happened. In the hands of the handlers mobs become guardians of purity and pedophiles and wife abusers become the righteous of the generation. Even if a "Gadol" wants to release a statement could you imagine how bizarre it would sound?
You aren't going to see a statement from Rav Avi Shafran on the matter for almost all the same reasons, plus he's way too busy attacking decent talmidei chachamim for daring to not see his brand of Judaism as perfect. He's trapped in a conundrum. On one hand he wants us to believe that "real Torah Judaism" is a society in which the "Gedolim" have absolute control. On the other hand, acknowledging the riots means either claiming the "Gedolim" are responsible due to their leadership positions or that in reality the leadership doesn't actually control anything. Far easier to distract by writing another diatribe against the WoW's.
The response of the average Chareidi-on-the-street is the litmus test here. Do they feel they have more in common with other observant but non-Chareidi Jews or do they still feel a kinship with these primitives and see them more as misguided than as barbaric?