Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Religion and Sex in Israel: Street Clashes Over Defining a Jewish State


Israel seems to be at war with itself. For two weeks the Hebrew media have been dominated by street clashes between Jews arguing viciously over such matters as sleeve length and bus seating, which in the Israel of the moment are markers for the kind of country people want: Religious, or secular, or what balance of the two? It’s a conflict that goes back at least to the founding of Israel six decades ago, and grows more and more potent with the dramatic population growth of the most piously observant.

The latest flashpoint speaks volumes about the state of the nation: An eight-year-old girl stopped going to school after neighborhood men spat on her and called her a prostitute because even in long sleeves and a skirt her dress was deemed “immodest.” The men were extremist members of the ultra-Orthodox, the fastest-growing segment of Israel’s Jewish population. Known in Hebrew as Haredim, which roughly translates as God-fearing, ultra-Orthodox men are easily recognized by their signature black clothes and headgear (either wide-brimmed black felt or brimless beaver skin) their side locks and their agitation at being seated near women. [...]

1 comment :

  1. From Arutz Sheva:

    "Hareidi Girl Attacked by Secular on Bus: After a hareidi man was shown spitting on a girl as she walked to school, the attacks are now going in the other direction.

    By Elad Benari. 1/4/2012.

    After a Channel 2 News report, which showed an extreme hareidi-religious man spitting on a seven-year-old religious Zionist girl as she walked to school, escalated to a protest in Beit Shemesh last week, it appears as the attacks are now coming from the other direction.

    Channel 10 News reported on Tuesday about 10-year-old Bluma Shpitzer, a hareidi-religious girl who was attacked by a young secular man on Monday, as she was on the bus on her way to school.

    “He began to spit at me and told me that I’m cursed because I’m hareidi,” the girl told Channel 10, adding she did not go to school on Tuesday, fearing the unpleasant incident would repeat itself.

    “He said he knew where I get off the bus and said he would come with all his friends to get back at me because I’m hareidi,” Shpitzer said. Her father, Moshe, told Channel 10 that his daughter could not sleep during the night and stayed in his room because she was scared.

    The girl added that when she got off the bus she immediately hid behind a garbage can so the attacker would not be able to find her. Channel 10 reported that police are working to find the attacker.

    Last week’s protest in Beit Shemesh served for many as a venue to express their opinion about the divide between secular Israelis and hareidi-religious Jews.

    On Saturday night, hundreds of hareidim demonstrated in Jerusalem against what they said was the unfair treatment of them in the media over the past several weeks.

    Dozens of adults and children were wearing yellow stars with the word “Jude” on it – reminiscent of the Nazi era – while several children were wearing striped concentration camp uniforms. Demonstrators said that the intention was not to compare Israel to Nazi Germany, but to compare the anti-hareidi sentiment and incitement to the anti-Jewish incitement in Germany before the Holocaust."


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