In an op-ed originally published in Haaretz on June 18, 2010, IDI Vice President Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern responds to the dramatic events in the city of Immanuel, warns secular society about the growing demonization of the Haredi community, and urges the Haredi community to have greater faith in the courts—the ultimate protectors of the rights of minorities.
"There is no choice but to enforce court rulings. Even those who take issue with the way the High Court of Justice handled the Immanuel school case should say loudly and clearly that court rulings must be respected. The courts provide the societal restraints that enable us to live together. They are the spearhead of that sovereign power whose might keeps men from devouring each other, and nothing must be done to diminish their authority.
But that bottom line does not absolve us of substantive discussion of the event itself. How is it that in a Jewish state, the emotionally charged words that symbolize martyrdom— Shema Yisrael (Hear, O Israel )—are hurled defiantly at the symbol of the state, the menorah, inside a courtroom? How is it that average, ordinary people are being thrown in jail as a group? What happens to the court's image in the deepest recesses of our culture when a provocative, contemptuous dance is performed in the courtroom? How did a localized dispute, which could be resolved in myriad ways, turn into a dispute over the principle of religion and state, exacerbated by a dose of communal tensions?"
Professor Yedidia Z. Stern is Vice President of IDI and former dean of the Law School at Bar Ilan University.