PikiWiki Israel 11209 Landscape viewI’ve blogged numerous times about religious extremism. Most of the examples I cite deal with Christian extremism, and less often, Islamic extremism. But that’s not to say that other religions don’t have extremists, or that I don’t mention them. The latest example I’ve come across, is one of Jewish extremism. The AP reports via USA Today that some ultra-orthodox Jewish men have been harassing a little girl as she walks to school in Israel (WebCite cached article):

A shy 8-year-old schoolgirl has unwittingly found herself on the front line of Israel’s latest religious war.

Naama Margolese is a ponytailed, bespectacled second-grader who is afraid of walking to her religious Jewish girls school for fear of ultra-Orthodox extremists who have spat on her and called her a whore for dressing “immodestly.” …

The girls school that Naama attends in the city of Beit Shemesh, to the west of Jerusalem, is on the border between an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood and a community of modern Orthodox Jewish residents, many of them American immigrants.

The ultra-Orthodox consider the school, which moved to its present site at the beginning of the school year, an encroachment on their territory. Dozens of black-hatted men jeer and physically accost the girls almost daily, claiming their very presence is a provocation.

The problem with harassing people over “immodesty,” of course, is that “immodesty” is both subjective and relative. Almost any kind of outfit can be labeled “immodest” if one wishes to do so. And the context in which an outfit is worn can make it seem more or less “immodest.”

The tension between the hard-line Haredi Jews of Beit Shemesh and their more moderate neighbors is not new, though:

Beit Shemesh’s growing ultra-Orthodox population has erected street signs calling for the separation of sexes on the sidewalks, dispatched “modesty patrols” to enforce a chaste female appearance and hurled stones at offenders and outsiders. Walls of the neighborhood are plastered with signs exhorting women to dress modestly in closed-necked, long-sleeved blouses and long skirts.

In other words, they’ve carried on a campaign intended to force others — not of their sect — to act as though they believe as they do.

(Gee, sounds a bit like the Religious Right here in the US, no?)

Christian readers of my blog have complained previously that they feel I don’t criticize other religions. This blog entry — like a number of others — proves them wrong on what score. Moreover, even if I only pointed out examples of Christian extremism, that in itself does not make me wrong. Extremism is not relative; it doesn’t become acceptable in one religion just because it happens in another; and I don’t have to talk about the extremism of other religions in order to remark on Christian extremism.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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3 Responses to “Ultra-Orthodox Jews Bully Girl For “Immodesty””
  1. […] « Ultra-Orthodox Jews Bully Girl For “Immodesty” Jan 01 2012 […]

  2. […] I already blogged about some ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel who bullied a girl because they subjectively interpreted her attire to be “immodest.” They then reacted to criticism over their behavior by hurling a reductio ad Hitlerum at their critics. In spite of the outcry against that, they’ve continued their assault on women in Isreal, as the AP reports via the Boston Globe (WebCite cached article): […]

  3. […] believe as they do and whom they no longer wish to have to see. They’re no longer resorting to bullying schoolgirls; instead, a bunch of them ganged up on and viciously attacked a lone woman in Beit Shemesh, as the […]