Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Women's rights amongst the Haredim

Naama Margolese, 8, the daughter of American immigrants who are observant modern Orthodox Jews.
Oded Balilty/Associated Press
As if the horrid and worsening state of Women's Rights in the Middle East wasn't bad enough already with Shariah law likely to become more common; in Israel, the Haredim are increasingly exerting their ultra-conservative demands on their neighbors.
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.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men in Beit Shemesh, Israel, rallied around a sign that reads in Hebrew: “Women are asked not to linger in this area.”  By ISABEL KERSHNER
  • 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

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish demonstrators in Jerusalem were denounced by Israeli leaders on Sunday after wearing yellow stars and alluding to other images from the Nazi era.   By ISABEL KERSHNER
Israeli leaders on Sunday denounced ultra-Orthodox protesters who took to the streets of Jerusalem on Saturday night and put young boys on display wearing yellow stars and striped prison camp uniforms reminiscent of the Holocaust. One little boy was instructed to pose for cameras with his hands raised in surrender, mimicking a famous photograph of a small, frightened Jewish boy surrendering to the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II.
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."


  1. Fanatic extremists can be found in the Christian, Jewish and Muslim religions, giving religion a bad name all over the world, not just in the Middle East. Example: Christians who shoot abortion providers or bomb their clinics. What a about those Amish man who were cutting the beards off rivals and otherwise abusing people of a different sect? Societies are seeded with marginal types who act out during times of stress... this is no different...

  2. In the US, the worst is the evangelical Christians trying to take over the GOP and the country to send us back to the Victorian age!

  3. I agree with anonymous that fanatics can be found in many religions. I'm reporting on disturbing trends I see.

    What disturbs me is the political power the Haredim currently have. And the political power those asking for Shariah law in Egypt will have.

    Amish cutting off beards of their rivals actually struck me as funny, while men calling an 8 year-old girl a prositute is sad.