|Naama Margolese, 8, the daughter of American immigrants who are observant modern Orthodox Jews.|
Oded Balilty/Associated Press
Little Naama, pictured above, has been spit upon and called a prostitute by hordes of black-clad men for dressing 'immodestly'. Her American parents dress her in a way that most of the world would consider quite conservative but the Haredim seem to wish to make a point. More from this article.
Israel, a beacon of light for Women's Rights in this otherwise blighted region, is feeling the strain from this sector of their democratic society. When the country was founded, David Ben-Gurion offered subsidies and army exemptions to the few survivors of this group, expecting them to be absorbed in the greater experiment. Instead, they multiplied and now number a million amongst the 7.8 million Israelis. Their votes are valuable and so they have been placated by generations of politicians, encouraging their excesses.
- Organizers of a conference on Women's Health and Jewish law barred women from speaking at the podium.
- The chief Rabbi of the Air Force resigned his post because the army refused to excuse ultra-conservative soldiers from attending events where female singers performed
- Protesters depicted the Jerusalem police commander as Hitler on posters because he instructed public bus lines with mixed-sex seating to drive through ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods
- Vandals blacked out women’s faces on Jerusalem billboards. More from this article
Tensions were further fueled by the arrest of an ultra-Orthodox man here last week on a charge of sexual harassment after he verbally abused a female Israeli soldier who had refused to move to the back of a public bus. More from this article.
Until now, Israel has been the Democratic, Modern, Western, beacon of hope for the region. We Americans could point there and show the way to the Arab countries that seem to revel in their brutal dictatorships, dismal Human and Women's Rights records and religious intolerance. Now those who are screaming for Shariah law in Egypt and Yemen can point to Israel and say, "Same thing here."