At day camps for young Satmar Hasidim, children hold mock protests — against the State of Israel.
In video clips, captured this summer on cellphones and published by the religious website Yeshiva World News, campers are seen chanting “Israeli government, shame on you!”
In another clip, children are seen pelting a car with eggs, made up to belong to the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. Meanwhile, chanting can be heard: “Bibi Netanyahu, shame on you!”
The clips were taken this summer at two separate Satmar day camps, one affiliated with the Williamsburg-based branch of the Satmar movement; the other affiliated with the Kiryas Joel-based branch. The two Satmar groups belong to rival brothers, who both lay claim to the Satmar line.
Satmar Hasidim are historically anti-Zionist. Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, the dynasty’s founder who died in 1979, objected to the secular roots of the modern State of Israel and forbade his follower from having any “official” engagement with it.
Yeshiva World News, reporting the news, called the videos “shocking” and “disturbing.”
But Der Blatt, a Satmar-affiliated Yiddish newspaper, reprinted photos from the protests in a celebratory spread, describing the children’s mock protest as being held against the “Leader of the Heretical Regime.”
“The young pupils at the Satmar Summer Program Cheder in Williamsburg are ready, with eggs in hand, to pelt the car belonging to the ‘Leader of the Heretical Regime,’ which will soon drive down Penn Street between Kent Avenue and Whythe Avenue,” one caption reads.
“Thankfully a dozen eggs now cost less than a dollar,” another caption explained, “so they were able to throw so many eggs that the car’s black surface was no longer visible.”
Sam Kestenbaum is a contributing editor and former staff writer for the Forward. Before this, he worked for The New York Times and newsrooms in Sana, Ramallah and Beijing. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum and on Instagram at @skestenbaum.