THE PROBLEM WITH JEWS
"A few weeks ago a party of some fifty Belzer Chassidic teenage school boys from Antwerp, together with two of their rebbes, were taken on a school outing to Beringen Mijn in Limburg, Belgium. It is a tourist centre based on old, disused mines that recreate the awful conditions of miners during the Industrial Revolution.
When they arrived at the local youth hostel, a group of twenty young adult and teenage Muslims gathered around and started stoning the building, smashing windows and doors and threatening to kill them. The local police were called, who advised the Chassidim that they could not protect them and encouraged them to withdraw and return to Antwerp."
[From a posting by Jeremy Rosen, JROD list]
There were three utterly predictable responses to this outrage.
The socialists defended the response of the local police. The ultra-right were outraged at the behaviour of the Muslims. And the Antwerper Chassidim felt that withdrawing was the right thing to have done.
All three reactions are absolute bollocks.
After determining that the local cops weren't going to do jack, the bocherim should've grabbed sticks and given those thugs a thrashing.
Turning the other cheek is part of Christian ideology (just like progroms, by the way), and has never proven particularly effective. Nor is it observed much by Christians.
What Antwerpers, not only Jews but Gentiles as well, should've done after the bocherim retreated, is visited Beringen the next day and brought a bad attitude along for the ride. Such a response, by it's very unpredictability, would have a cautionary effect on future incidents.
Yes, yes, I know what that would actually mean.
Gentiles all over Belgium would blame all Jews, and confront their Jewish neighbors elsewhere in Belgium accusatorily - and those Jews would not be automatically inclined to say "those were Antwerpeners, your problem is with Antwerp, what the divvil does that have to do with me, drop dead you pillock", but would probably speak out and... condemn... the... act... as... a... chillul... Hashem.
The problem with Jews is that they are always cognizant of the impact their actions may have on other Jews.
On the one hand, there is the imperative to not commit a chillul Hashem - to not by their acts or ethics misrepresent or bring disgrace to the covenant.
On the other hand, there is the knowledge that an offense perceived in Odessa will cause a pogrom in Kiev.
And alas, no one would say "those were Antwerpeners".
The Belzers don't think of themselves strongly that way. The Antwerpener Gentiles don't think of them strongly that way. The Turks and Moroccans in Belgium don't think of them strongly that way. And no-one else in Belgium thinks of them strongly that way.
What the world needs is Chassidic football hooligans.
A little day-dream
A train filled with rowdy Chassidishe yingerleit is stopped several miles out of town. Provincial civic fathers wring their hands and wail "myn hemel, it is the Antwerper Chossids, oh woe", before calling in the riot police from several burgs to defuse a confrontation. There are multiple arrests. The next day the Gazet van Antwerp newspaper demands apologies from those local authorities on behalf of all outraged Antwerpeners, and several lawsuits are filed against police and civic officials.
A snooded mother snarls on television that she is furious, "furious, I tell you, my darling little Dovid was off to enjoy the game with his friends, those cops have unfair praeconceptions, what is this world coming to!?!" The burgomaster of Antwerpen then refuses to extend co-operation to the investigation, declaring it "flawed and biased from the very git-go. And supporters of the Diamantplein Yeshiva soccer team are much better than that bunch from Yesiba De Los Pintos anyhow - at least they're not a bunch of pathetic Rotterdammed losers!"
Two days later, the released Chassidim are welcomed home by the local college students, with bands and banners at the station. Fraternity Gimmel Hey Tav celebrates with marathon shiurim about 'the relevance of the Makabim in contemporary society'.