‘Anti-feminist’ vandals in Israel deface images of women

‘Anti-feminist’ vandals in Israel deface images of women

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Advertisement

Recommended

After Arizona, election audits become a GOP rallying cry for 2022 races

Quiz: Who played these historical figures in biographical films?

‘There’s no control’: Border chaos invades America’s heartland

Quiz: Take the political scandals in U.S. history test

U.S. icebreaker gap with Russia a growing concern as Arctic ‘cold war’ heats up

Advertisement

SPONSORED CONTENT

Advertisement

Commentary

Dean Karayanis

Congress’ debt ceiling theatrics and lack of fiscal responsibility

Tom Basile

Top brass expose Biden’s biggest Afghanistan lies

Charles Hurt

Terry McAuliffe: ‘Smarmy used car salesman’

View all

Advertisement

Question of the Day

With news of global supply chain problems affecting industries across the country, which product shortage is most concerning to you?

Question of the Day

 
New cars

 
Holiday toys

 
Liquor

 
Toilet paper

  View results

Advertisement

Story TOpics

In this July 1, 2021, file photo provided by the The Lonka Project, people look at the defaced portrait of Holocaust survivor Peggy Parnass, outside Jerusalem City Hall, where it is on display as part of an exhibit that tells … more >

Print

By Laurie Kellman

Associated Press

Friday, October 1, 2021

JERUSALEM (AP) — The joyful glint in Peggy Parnass’ eyes is so sharp it can be seen from the walls of Jerusalem‘s bustling Old City. Posted across the street at the gateway to City Hall, twin images of the Holocaust survivor and activist gaze out at the ancient warren of holy monuments of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

But just outside this center of spirituality, someone saw her image as a problem. Five times since the photos of Parnass were posted as part of an exhibition that began in April, vandals – widely believed to be ultra-Orthodox extremists – spray-painted over her eyes and mouth.

The graffiti was cleaned each time, leaving Parnass smiling again. For many Israelis, however, the short-term fix highlighted a familiar pattern that’s all the more painful because the destruction is coming not from enemies across Israel‘s borders but from within.

TOP STORIES

Professor suspended for refusing to give Black students easier final exams sues UCLA

Democratic Texas border mayor denounces Biden: 'It was working under Trump'

Food stamp benefits to jump after Congress-ordered review

“It’s not anti-Semitic,” said Jim Hollander, the curator of The Lonka Project art installation at Safra Square. “This is anti-feminist.”

For all of its modernity, military firepower and high-tech know-how, Israel has for decades been unable to keep images of women from being defaced in some public spaces. Billboards showing women — including soccer players, musicians and young girls — have been repeatedly defaced and torn down by religious extremists in Jerusalem and other cities with large ultra-Orthodox populations over the past 20 years.

Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel was erased from a 2015 photograph of world leaders in Paris published by an ultra-Orthodox newspaper.

The pattern is especially uncomfortable now.

“This is not Kabul, this is Jerusalem,” said Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, a Jerusalem deputy mayor. “This is a concerted campaign by radicals to erase women from the public space, which belongs to all of us.”

The double photo of 94-year-old Parnass, who lives in Germany, is posted on an outside wall of Jerusalem‘s City Hall complex.

Hollander said he specifically chose it among dozens of others posted around the complex to hang in the marquee spot because it projects vitality, perseverance and survival across one of Israel‘s most famous expanses. Its central location makes it visible to thousands every day.

The vandalism is widely blamed on a small number of fringe members of the insular ultra-Orthodox community, which emphasizes modesty among women and has traditionally carried outsized influence in Israeli politics. The photo is posted next to a street that borders an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood and is a popular walkway to the Old City’s Western Wall, the holiest Jewish prayer site.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews make up about 12.6% of Israel‘s population of 9.3 million. That community’s population is growing faster than those of other Israeli Jews and Arabs, according to the Israel Democracy Institute, a nonpartisan Jerusalem think tank. A majority of Jerusalem‘s Jewish community is ultra-Orthodox, the institute said.

There is a difference, one expert cautioned, between the more pragmatic mainstream ultra-Orthodox Judaism and the vandals defacing photos of women.

“In the mainstream, they know that the world outside is functioning in a different way,” said Gilad Malach, who leads the ultra-Orthodox program at the Israel Democracy Institute. “And they know that in some situations, they need to cooperate with that.”

In the mainstream Orthodox community, some women have begun to push back on social media.

“The men aren’t in charge there,” said Kerry Bar-Cohn, 48, an Orthodox chiropractor and performer who a few years ago started posting YouTube videos of herself singing children’s songs. Recently, she tried to publish an ad in a local circular with her photo on it, and was refused.

“It’s straight-out discrimination,” said Bar-Cohn, wife of a rabbi and a mother of four. “I was thinking I want to sue them, but No. 1, who has the time? And No. 2, you don’t want to be that person.”

Advocates say erasing women carries dire societal risks.

“You don’t see women, you don’t hear their needs and their needs are not met,” said Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll, 46.

Keats Jaskoll recently launched a subscription-only photo bank of what she calls “positive” images of Orthodox women called Chochmat Nashim, or “women’s wisdom.” The idea is to sell images of women that are acceptable to an Orthodox audience and better understood by people in general.

None of these initiatives has halted the constant wave of vandalism.

The Israel Religious Action Center, which is connected to the liberal Reform movement of Judaism, has tracked the vandalism and other attacks on women’s images for five years and filed a court petition to compel the city of Jerusalem to crack down.

Over time, the municipality has responded by saying it is engaged in “massive, effective and focused enforcement” of city bylaws against vandalism, but it acknowledged difficulty in collecting testimony and prosecuting suspects.

“The Jerusalem municipality has and will continue to condemn any damage to public images and deals with the problem if appears on the spot,” the city said in a statement.

Police say they investigate all complaints of vandalism and property damage and try to find those responsible, but had no information about the Parnass case.

By refusing or being unable to crack down, “the state sponsors this practice,” said Ori Narov, an attorney for IRAC. “We keep getting this impression that they keep making excuses,” ranging from a shortage of labor to even more limits due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The municipality said the Parnass photos have been restored and it has increased patrols around City Hall.

Parnass’ niece, Keren-Or Peled, who lives in Israel, says Parnass has been told what happened. After her photos were cleaned for a third time, Peled traveled to Jerusalem to take a photo to send to her aunt.

By the time Peled got there, however, the set of photos had been defaced again. She helped clean it herself.

“They paint over your picture time and time again because you are a woman,” Peled wrote to her aunt in an article published in Haaretz. ”A beautiful, strong, confident 94-year-old woman.”

—-

Associated Press writer Ilan Ben Zion contributed.

American Jews take stock of internal divisions, antisemitism

American Jews take stock of internal divisions, antisemitism

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

‘I’m not a timetable person’: Congress to miss deadline on policing reform bill

Quiz: Take the Ultimate Acronym Test (UAT)

‘Tipping point’: Suspense builds ahead of major Pentagon report on UFOs

Quiz: Can you name the actors who played these 1980s TV characters?

Why are we restless? Two academics find answers in several French philosophers

SPONSORED CONTENT

Commentary

Clifford D. May

For Israelis, one more battle in a forever war for survival

Allen Bernard West

The good, the bad and the ugly Democrats: Race in America

Charles Hurt

A partisan ‘armed insurrection’ at the U.S. Capitol — but not what you may think

View all

Question of the Day

Now that we know the military is investigating Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UFOs), what do you think they might be?

Question of the Day

 
Alien life

 
Natural or weather events

 
Technical glitches

 
A vivid imagination

 
A hoax

  View results

Story TOpics

Pro-Israel supporters chant slogans during a rally in support of Israel outside the Federal Building in Los Angeles, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. A larger debate is playing out nationwide among many U.S. Jews who are divided over how to respond … more >

Print

By Mariam Fam and Luis Andres Henao

Associated Press

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

As fighting between Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers raged before last week’s cease-fire, U.S. rabbinical student Max Buchdahl wanted to be considerate of those in his community who are emotionally connected to Israel — but he also wanted to support Palestinians.

Buchdahl, 25, joined dozens of rabbinical and cantorial students who signed a letter expressing solidarity with Palestinians and appealing to U.S. Jews to demand change from Israel, which it accused of abuses.

Pushback came swiftly from Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, the dean of Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University, which trains a new generation of Conservative rabbis including a small number of the letter’s signatories.

TOP STORIES

Actor John Cena makes groveling apology video to China after calling Taiwan a 'country'

Rand Paul's wife rips activists, celebs itching for violence against senator: 'DNC ignores'

It's not just Arizona: Push to review 2020 ballots spreads

He penned a response saying he admired highlighting the suffering of Palestinians but disapproved of what he saw as a lack of solidarity with Israel and Israeli Jews, and silence on their suffering and on the “murderous tyranny” of Hamas.

Both letters were published in the Forward, a media nonprofit targeting a Jewish American audience, part of a larger debate playing out nationwide among many U.S. Jews who are divided over how to respond to the violence and over the disputed boundaries for acceptable criticism of Israeli policies.

“I do see us wrestling with degrees of culpability, degrees of responsibility,” Artson said in an interview. “The areas of disagreement might be to what degree is Israel alone responsible for the occupation? To what degree is the occupation also the responsibility of Hamas” and other regional powers?

Jonathan D. Sarna, director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University, said American Jews’ perceptions can vary greatly by generation.

To many who are old enough to remember the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation and later Arab-Israeli wars, “Israel is fragile, under attack, and its enemies want to destroy it,” Sarna said. “Younger Jews have been more influenced by a kind of David and Goliath narrative: To their mind, Israel has been stronger throughout their life. … They are concerned more about what they see as disproportionality.”

In a recently released survey of U.S. Jews by the Pew Research Center, 82% percent of respondents said caring about Israel is either an “essential” or “important” part of their Jewish identity. But the poll, conducted well before the latest fighting, also found deep skepticism toward authorities on both sides of the conflict, with just a third saying the Israeli government sincerely seeks peace and just 12% saying that about Palestinian leaders.

“There is a growing sense of alienation from the rigid, defensive script on Israel that fails to address Palestinian suffering and offer a path to peace,” said Rabbi Sharon Brous, co-founder of IKAR, a Jewish community in Los Angeles. The national racial reckoning has fueled an urgency among many U.S. Jews to help realize “a more just and equitable reality for Israelis and Palestinians,” she added.

“It breaks my heart that some in our Jewish community seem to believe that it is impossible, or at least unacceptable, to hold compassion, empathy and concern for the well-being of Palestinians along with compassion for our Israeli family,” Brous said.

The conversations sparked by the conflict have unfolded against the backdrop of reports of rising antisemitic incidents since the fighting. Preliminary data compiled by the Anti-Defamation League shows an increase in violent attacks, vandalism and harassment in the U.S. and around the world, as well as online, the group said before the cease-fire took effect.

“With anti-Semitism on the rise … there is an urgency for U.S. Jewry to find a common ground with each other across different denominations and age groups,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, a Boston-based philanthropical organization that works in both Israel and the United States.

“It also provides an opportunity for the American Jewish community and Israel to come together in a time when both groups need each other more than ever,” Ruderman added.

Brous said faith leaders should decry hate and affirm to their flocks that criticism of Israeli policies must not spill into antisemitism. At the same time, “criticism of Israel is not necessarily antisemitic,” she said.

Elliot Steinmetz, the men’s basketball coach at the Jewish Orthodox Yeshiva University in New York City, found himself enraged by the reports of antisemitic attacks and mounting criticism of Israel on social media.

On May 12 he posted on Instagram accusing some people of masking antisemitism behind political arguments. He challenged critics to be honest “instead of hiding behind Arab children,” saying “that’s what the terrorists do.”

“What prompted that was seeing some of our politicians — and it ultimately became celebrities and athletes as well — who like to chime in on issues they’re not educated on,” Steinmetz said in an interview.

“All of a sudden there’s attacks against Jewish people, and there’s nobody standing up,” he added. “Nobody.”

Steinmetz’s defense of Israel is a sentiment shared by former Yeshiva player Simcha Halpert, who moved to Tel Aviv in September to play professional basketball and has woken up several times in the middle of the night to rush to a bomb shelter. He defended Israel and accused Hamas of endangering innocents on both sides. Israel accuses Palestinian militants of causing civilian casualties by launching attacks from residential areas; many of Israel’s critics, meanwhile, accuse it of disproportionate use of force.

Halpert is also concerned about things back home — his father recently told his brothers in Los Angeles to avoid wearing in some areas the skullcap that identifies them as Jewish.

“It’s just a little crazy that we have to be worried,” Halpert said.

Buchdahl, the student who co-signed the letter published by the Forward, stressed that even as he supports solidarity with Palestinians, of course he opposes Hamas rockets being fired at Israeli civilians.

“I want people to see critiques of Israel as critiques of a nation-state,” Buchdahl said. “I want you to understand that I am critiquing policy, I am not critiquing your identity.”

Likewise, Artson, who penned the response, said he grieves innocent Palestinian casualties just as he does rockets that are “intended to create a massacre.”

“My heart has been ripped apart on multiple incompatible jagged edges,” Artson said.

An educator, he ultimately views the episode of the opposing letters as a learning opportunity.

“Two of the people who signed that letter came to my home, celebrated the holiday (of Shavuot) with me,” Artson said. “They hugged coming in, they hugged going out. And we even talked about the letter.”

___

Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through The Conversation U.S. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

Hamas fires rockets deep into Israel, escalating tensions

Hamas fires rockets deep into Israel, escalating tensions

Follow Us




Search
Search Keyword:

Sign Up For Our
Daily Newsletters

Breaking News Alerts
Enter your email address:

Manage Newsletters

Front Page Podcast

Recommended

‘I’m disgusted’: Mom targets liberal DA after son’s horrific killing

Quiz: How much do you know about the U.S. Congress?

Americans eager for ‘revenge travel’ battered by speed bumps

Quiz: Are you smarter than an 8th grader?

Olympic-sized battle looms over transgender athletes at Tokyo games

SPONSORED CONTENT

Commentary

Richard W. Rahn

Mainstream media misinformation and the high cost of COVID-19 ignorance

Kathy Barnette

Is the Biden administration the end of the American Dream?

Gary Anderson

Why the Iranian’s can’t be trusted

View all

Question of the Day

How do you feel about the state of the U.S. economy?

Question of the Day

 
Strong and getting stronger

 
Strong but starting to falter

 
Struggling but it will get better

 
Weak and getting weaker

  View results

Story TOpics

Israelis run to shelters as air attack sirens goes off during a Jerusalem Day march, in Jerusalem, Monday, May 10, 2021. Explosions have been heard in Jerusalem after air raid sirens sounded. The sirens came Monday, shortly after the Hamas … more >

Print

By Ilan Ben Zion and Joseph Krauss

Associated Press

Monday, May 10, 2021

JERUSALEM (AP) — Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip fired rockets toward Jerusalem on Monday, setting off air raid sirens throughout the city, after hundreds of Palestinians were hurt in clashes with Israeli police at a flashpoint religious site in the contested holy city. 

The early-evening attack drastically escalated what already are heightened tensions throughout the region following weeks of clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in Jerusalem.

Shortly after the sirens sounded, explosions could be heard in Jerusalem. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage. The Israeli Army said there was an initial burst of seven rockets, one was intercepted, and rocket fire was continuing.

SEE ALSO: More than 300 Palestinians hurt in Jerusalem holy site clash

Abu Obeida, spokesman for Hamas‘ military wing, said the rocket attack was a response to what he called Israeli “crimes and aggression” in Jerusalem. “This is a message the enemy has to understand well,” he said.

He threatened more attacks if Israel again invades the sacred Al-Aqsa compound or carries out evictions of Palestinian families in a neighborhood of east Jerusalem.

Earlier, Israeli police firing tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets clashed with stone-throwing Palestinians at the iconic compound. 

More than a dozen tear gas canisters and stun grenades landed in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites, as police and protesters faced off inside the walled compound that surrounds it, said an Associated Press photographer at the scene. Smoke rose in front of the mosque and the iconic golden-domed shrine on the site, and rocks littered the nearby plaza. Inside one area of the compound, shoes and debris lay scattered over ornate carpets.

In an apparent attempt to avoid further confrontation, Israeli authorities changed the planned route of a march by ultranationalist Jews through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. The marchers were ordered to avoid the area and sent on a different route circumventing the Muslim Quarter on their way to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray.

But tensions remained high.

More than 305 Palestinians were hurt, including 228 who went to hospitals and clinics for treatment, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. Seven of the injured were in serious condition. Police said 21 officers were hurt, including three who were hospitalized. Israeli paramedics said seven Israeli civilians were also hurt. 

The confrontation was the latest after weeks of mounting tensions between Palestinians and Israeli troops in the Old City of Jerusalem, the emotional center of their conflict. There have been almost nightly clashes during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, already a time of heightened religious sensitivities. 

Most recently, the tensions have been fueled by the planned eviction of dozens of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of east Jerusalem where Israeli settlers have waged a lengthy legal battle to take over properties. Monday was expected to be particularly tense since Israelis mark it as Jerusalem Day to celebrate their capture of east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war.

On Monday, two anti-Arab members of Israel‘s parliament, surrounded by an entourage and police, pushed through a line of protesters in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Several Arab members of parliament were among those trying to stop Betzalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir, amid shouting and jostling. Smotrich and Ben Gvir eventually got to the other side of a police barricade and entered a house already inhabited by settlers.

Over the past few days, hundreds of Palestinians and several dozen police officers have been hurt in clashes in and around the Old City, including the sacred compound, which is known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The compound which has been the trigger for rounds of Israel-Palestinian violence in the past, is Islam’s third-holiest site and considered Judaism’s holiest.

An AP photographer at the scene said that early Monday morning, protesters had barricaded gates to the walled compound with wooden boards and scrap metal. Sometime after 7. a.m., clashes erupted, with those inside throwing stones at police deployed outside. Police entered the compound, firing tear gas, rubber-coated steel pellets and stun grenades.

At some point during the morning about 400 people, both young protesters and older worshippers, were inside the carpeted Al-Aqsa Mosque. Police fired tear gas and stun grenades into the mosque.

Police said protesters hurled stones at officers and onto an adjoining roadway near the Western Wall, where thousands of Israeli Jews had gathered to pray.

The tensions in Jerusalem have threatened to reverberate throughout the region.

Before Monday’s rocket attack on Jerusalem, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Gaza, Palestinian militants had fired several barrages of rockets into southern Israel. Protesters allied with the ruling Hamas militant group have launched dozens of incendiary balloons into Israel, setting off fires across the southern part of the country.

The rare strike on Jerusalem came moments after Hamas had set a deadline for Israel to remove its forces from the mosque compound and Sheikh Jarrah and release Palestinians detained in the latest clashes. 

Hamas, an Islamic militant group that seeks Israel‘s destruction, has fought three wars with Israel since it seized power in Gaza in 2007. The group possesses a vast arsenal of missiles and rockets capable of striking virtually anywhere in Israel.

The rocket strike on Jerusalem was a significant escalation and raised the likelihood of a tough Israeli response.

After several days of Jerusalem confrontations, Israel has come under growing international criticism for its heavy-handed actions at the site, particularly during Ramadan.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled closed consultations on the situation Monday. 

Late Sunday, the U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke to his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben-Shabbat. A White House statement said that Sullivan called on Israel to “pursue appropriate measures to ensure calm” and expressed the U.S.’s “serious concerns” about the ongoing violence and planned evictions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed back against the criticism Monday, saying Israel is determined to ensure the rights of worship for all and that this “requires from time to time stand up and stand strong as Israeli police and our security forces are doing now.” 

In other violence, Palestinian protesters hurled rocks at an Israeli vehicle driving just outside the Old City walls. CCTV footage released by the police showed a crowd surrounding the car and pelting it with rocks when it swerved off the road and into a stone barrier and a bystander.

Police said two passengers were injured.

The day began with police announcing that Jews would be barred from visiting the holy site on Jerusalem Day, which is marked with a flag-waving parade through the Old City that is widely perceived by Palestinians as a provocative display in the contested city. 

But just as the parade was about to begin, police said they were altering the route at the instruction of political leaders. Several thousand people, many of them from Jewish settlements in the West Bank, were participating.

In the 1967 war in which Israel captured east Jerusalem, it also took the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It later annexed east Jerusalem and considers the entire city its capital. The Palestinians seek all three areas for a future state, with east Jerusalem as their capital.

The recent round of violence began when Israel blocked off a popular spot where Muslims traditionally gather each night during Ramadan at the end of their daylong fast. Israel later removed the restrictions, but clashes quickly resumed amid tensions over the planned eviction of Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah.

Israel‘s Supreme Court postponed a key ruling Monday that could have forced dozens of Palestinians from their homes, citing the “circumstances.”