You can't. So instead people claim that it's just a small group of extremists. They claim that they don't speak for the mainstream, or represent the true Chareidi point of view. This may or may not be true. After all, in the news report, it didn't seem like they had to look very hard to find someone willing to justify violence even against children who don't conform to the "accepted" form of dress. So we're left to wonder: Is it just a small group of kooks, as people claim, or a much more widespread phenomenon.
The answer must come from Chareidi leadership, which has been to this point, silent. And their silence, to my mind, is deafening.
Parshat Vayigash chronicles the final reconciliation of Yosef with his brothers. Yehudah's moving speech to Yosef asking that he remain in captivity in Binyamin's place moves Yosef to the point of tears, and brings him to reveal his true identity to his brothers. The Midrash relates that the conversation between Yehudah and Yosef was not one-sided, and involved give and take between them. According to the Midrash, Yosef asked his brother a simple question.
For whatever reason, the other brothers saw the conflict as external to them. They didn't want to get involved. Binyamin had a problem - and not them. Yehudah, on the other hand, had accepted responsibility for Binyamin. He made the promise to his father, and not the other brothers. And yet, the words of the Midrash speak volumes. According to Yehuda, "My stomach is in knots over this issue. I have to speak out." And only because he felt that level of personal responsibility does the family reunite.אמר לו יוסף, יהודה, מפני מה אתה דברן? והלא יש באחים שגדולים ממך? אמר לי, אף על פי כן, כולן חוץ לזיקה הן עומדין, אבל אני מעי קמתין עלי בחבל. אמר לו מפני מה? אמר לו הייתי לו ערב...Yosef said to him, "Yehudah, why are you the spokesman? You have brothers who are older than you? He said to him, Nonetheless, they all stand disconnected [from this matter]. But me - my intestines are tied in knots with a rope." [Yosef] said to him, "Why is this so?" [Yehudah] answered: "Because I am for [Binyamin] the responsible party.
Leaders - true leaders - must feel that same sense of obligation. When things spiral out of control, a real leader cannot divorce himself from the situation and convince himself that it's not his problem. Rather, he must feel it in his stomach.
Two weeks ago, the Jewish world was legitimately scandalized by a startling attack against an army base at the hands of a group of Gush Emunim youth. The Israeli public was outraged and startled, and rightly so. An attack against the IDF represents an attack against the core of the State of Israel, and signaled a troubling militancy within the "Settler" movement. Yet, after the attack, I was gratified to see leader after leader condemn the attack. Despite misleading headlines, no rabbi found any justification whatsoever for the activity, and criticized it unequivocally. Is the Religious Zionist community too tolerant of militant attitudes within its ranks? I'm not sure. But when a group of its members stepped over a very clear red line, the leadership of that community spoke forcefully against it.
Which can only bring us to one of two conclusions: the really is not any Chareidi leadership to speak of, and it's a rudderless ship steered by the most fanatic, outrageous members within their ranks. Or, their actions and attitudes aren't that different from mainstream Chareidi views.
Either possibility is truly troubling.