Remember the Sabbath, to spit on journalists

A reporter for Australia’s ABC was recently attacked by Orthodox Jews. Her story is here . (Thanks to Richard Collins for posting a link to an article on End Herediatary Religion about this.)

An ultra-Orthodox Jew is carried away by Israeli police officers during a Jerusalem protest (Getty Images: Darren Whiteside)
A protester being carried away by Israeli police
Getty Images: Darren Whiteside

Basically, ABC Middle East correspondent Anne Barker took a wrong turn while covering a protest by (ultra) Orthodox Jews over a city parking lot being open on the Sabbath. And this is how she was treated. From the ABC Australia article by Anne Barker:

As a journalist I’ve covered more than my share of protests. [...] I’ve been at violent rallies in East Timor. I’ve had rocks and metal darts thrown my way. [...] But I have to admit no protest – indeed no story in my career – has distressed me in the way I was distressed at a protest in Jerusalem on Saturday[...]

Orthodox Jews are angry at the local council’s decision to open a municipal carpark on Saturdays – or Shabbat, the day of rest for Jews. [...] I was mindful I would need to dress conservatively and keep out of harm’s way. But I made my mistake when I parked the car and started walking towards the protest, not fully sure which street was which. [...]

Suddenly the crowd turned on me, screaming in my face. Dozens of angry men began spitting on me. I found myself herded against a brick wall as they kept on spitting – on my face, my hair, my clothes, my arms. It was like rain, coming at me from all directions [...] Somewhere behind me – I didn’t see him – a man on a stairway either kicked me in the head or knocked something heavy against me. wasn’t even sure why the mob was angry with me. [...]

In fact, I was later told, it was because using a tape-recorder is itself a desecration of the Shabbat even though I’m not Jewish and don’t observe the Sabbath.

Because they believe Yahweh doesn’t want anyone to break the Sabbath (after recently rereading Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, I know this is supposed to apply to both Jewish people and strangers), they think they are justified in repeatedly assaulting a reporter just because she has a tape recorder running.

Religion can be dangerous when it says it applies to not only people who follow it, but to everyone around you. I guess considering how God acts in the Old Testament, if you believe it literally I can understand why they’d want to make it clear to God that they were not condoning her breaking of the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2-3 (KJV) says

Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death. Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day.

Since they were specifically upset about the tape recorder, my guess is that was because of the electricity ("fire") it uses. Dogma Free America recently reported on a claim by an Orthodox Jew couple that it is a "human right" not to have motion-sensor lights, since they believe they must stay out of the hallway so as not to trip the "fire" of the lights on the Sabbath.

The big question for me is this: the Bible is clear in a number of places that if you break the Sabbath,  you should be put to death. But they left her alive. Why would they think that they still need to keep the Sabbath, but not apply the punishment? I guess it’s some small consolation at least that they didn’t decide to kill her.

I know that not all people who believe in Judaism or religion in general are like this, but it shows what can happen when people take dogma too literally. It’s sad when people hold ridiculous beliefs like this, but an outrage when they attack other people for not holding the same beliefs.


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