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Rabbi Rabinovich: Blame everyone else for Meron disaster

CM 23/08/2021


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Kotel Rabbi and Rabbi of the Holy Sites Shmuel Rabinovich on Monday pointed the finger at a variety of parties while testifying before the State Commission of Inquiry to avoid any personal blame for the Mount Meron disaster.
On April 30, some 45 men and boys, mostly ultra-Orthodox, died in a mass crush on Mount Meron, the site of the tomb of Talmudic sage Shimon Bar Yohai, where tens of thousands of pilgrims had gathered for the annual Lag Ba’omer celebrations in what was Israel’s worst civilian disaster.
Rabinovich, himself a haredi rabbi, repeatedly accused extremist haredim (ultra-Orthodox) of various sects for destabilizing and endangering visitors to the site as well as the Police and the Justice Ministry for not creating sufficient order.

The senior rabbi, who engaged in a mix of spiritual comments, light humor and solemnity regarding the tragedy, did get push back from the commission members, who include chairwoman and former Supreme Court president Miriam Naor, Rabbi Mordechai Karlitz and IDF Maj.-Gen. (res.) Shlomo Yanai.
Yanai in particular took Rabinovich to task, saying that after he had served in an oversight role of Mount Meron for 13 years, he could not avoid blame, even if the root causes of the disaster might stem from other officials.
Given the passage of 13 years, the former IDF major general said that Rabinovich needed to have either taken major action to get the site and the events at Meron to a point where they were safe or to resign and make way for someone new who might do better.
Rabinovich responded that from when he became the leader of a committee of five religious officials responsible for certain religious aspects and religious building infrastructure in 2008 and 2011, he succeeded in making major changes.
No matter how poor the infrastructure, layout and safety issues were now, he said, the current setup was “gold” compared to how horrid it had been before 2008.
NEXT, RABINOVICH said that extremist haredi sects had harassed him, even protesting outside his house and requiring him to get bodyguards anytime he tried to improve or change the status quo at Meron.
These extremists were against any kind of change, he said, believing that changes could upset other uncharted burial grounds and otherwise disturb the site’s mystical status.
Further, he said that if anyone had ever told him he and his committee would become responsible for running the Lag Ba’omer event, he would have immediately resigned.
Rather, he said that because of the extremists who opposed his involvement, he rarely visited the site, and even when he did, he did so quickly and under heavy guard to avoid friction.
 Meron investigation committee, August 22. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90) Meron investigation committee, August 22. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
Rabniovich was then pressed by commission members that while he could disclaim responsibility for the specific event, he could not do so for the dilapidated condition of certain bridges and infrastructure connected to religious buildings.
The rabbi answered that he has no expertise in such issues and that the engineers his committee hired had assured him there were no problems.
Also, he said that the Justice Ministry had told him he was not in charge of a variety of issues.
Moreover, he accused the Police of not having control of visitors and said that even the police headquarters on the site itself was built in an unsafe or illegal manner.   
Rabinovich also noted that he took the disaster personally, with his nephew being one of the victims of the tragedy.
He said that he had already visited and left the site some time before the disaster occurred.
ALON ASUR, who served as Northern District police commander from 2016-2019, then testified about why he had not ordered a limit in the number of visitors who could come to Meron during Lag Ba’omer.
Asur said that two issues led him to conclude that there was no point in trying to make such a push.
First, he said that the legal establishment had not defined to what extent the police could restrain freedom of movement and freedom of religion in favor of public safety surrounding the site.
Second, he said that setting any number would have been theoretical as the layout of the site would have made it physically impossible to prevent highly committed visitors from around the country from arriving.
This would have been the case unless there was wall-to-wall political support and momentum for completely transforming the site, something which he said did not exist – certainly not until this past spring’s disaster.
In fact, he said a local official had told him that the police had tried around 2008 to limit the number of attendees and that their efforts had failed miserably.
Pressed that there could be interim solutions to limit or slow the advance of attendees, he explained that there were some techniques, such as having traffic officials stop buses as they converged on the area, but even this he said was at most a temporary reprieve.
The committee was formed in late June after the new government of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett took over the country’s reins and overturned previous prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to avoid a formal inquiry.
Pressed that there could be interim solutions to limit or slow the advance of attendees.
He explained that there were some techniques, such as having traffic officials stop buses as they converged on the area, but even this he said was at most a temporary reprieve.
The committee was formed in late June after the new government of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett took over the country’s reins and overturned prior prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to avoid a formal inquiry.
Netanyahu, former public security minister Amir Ohana and other haredi political officials, along with Rabinowitz had wanted to avoid finger-pointing over the tragedy.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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