Orthodox Jews in Israel spit on “immodest” 8-year-old girl
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stepped up pledges to curb Jewish zealotry in Israel on Sunday after an 8-year-old girl complained of being menaced by ultra-Orthodox men who deemed her dress immodest.
While his conservative government insists such incidents are fringe phenomena in the mostly secular country, Netanyahu’s repeated announcements on the matter reflected concern about widening religious and political schisms…
Netanyahu said he had ordered law enforcement authorities to crack down on “whoever spits, whoever lifts a hand (in violence), whoever harasses” and to remove street signs segregating men from women in some ultra-Orthodox districts.
The statement appeared to have been prompted by an expose on Israel’s top-rated weekend news about intra-Jewish friction in Beit Shemesh, a town of about 87,000 people near Jerusalem.
Naama Margolese, 8, told Channel Two television she was terrified of walking to her moderate Orthodox school because of passersby who want her “to dress like a Haredi” – the Hebrew term for the ascetic, black-coated Jews who are in “awe” of God…
Margolese’s mother Hadassa, an American immigrant who wore a headscarf and skirt in deference to religious Jewish tradition, said the sidewalk abuse could include spitting, curses like “whores” and “bastards” and calls to “clear out of here.”
“If that’s what happens now, and they (authorities) don’t do anything, what will happen in another few years?” she told Israel’s Army Radio on Sunday. “This is a terrorist group.”
Returning to Beit Shemesh on Sunday, a Channel Two crew was mobbed by ultra-Orthodox Jews who stoned their car, wounded a reporter and stole equipment, police said. The crew was rescued by police, who said they were questioning suspected assailants…
Israeli media have debated the impact of religious gender segregation on public transport and the conscript army, where some pious troops prefer to shun female instructors and singers.
The ultra-Orthodox make up only about 10 percent of Israel’s population of 7.7 million. But their high birthrates and bloc voting patterns have helped them secure welfare benefits and wider influence. One of Netanyahu’s biggest partners in the coalition government, Shas, is a party run by rabbis…
“Beit Shemesh shocked Netanyahu not because of new facts but because of old facts that were recounted by a lovely little blond-haired girl with blue eyes,” said Nahum Barnea, senior commentator for the biggest-selling newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.
The “how and when” of a reactionary like Netanyahu speaking out isn’t especially different from Tea Party zealots’ prattle about defending the Constitution – while sermonizing against civil rights for Gay Americans in the next breath.
The tradition of hypocrites pretending above all else to defend the rights of ordinary people is as old as Imperal Rome. It’s not that any of these core values need revision. The task is to combat phonies who hold them up like a morality force field as if to say, “we are defending these rights; so, you have no right to challenge our deceit”!