Israeli girl’s plight highlights Jewish extremism

By ARON HELLER, Associated Press

Monday, December 26, 2011



Oded Balilty / AP

Naama Margolese, 8, sits with her mother Hadassa in their home in the central Israeli town of Beit Shemesh, Monday, Dec 26, 2011. The story of Naama Margolese, an 8-year-old American girl that has unwittingly found herself on the front line of Israel’s latest religious war, drew new attention to the religious tensions in Beit Shemesh, a city of some 100,000 just outside Jerusalem, which has become a symbol of the growing violence of Jewish extremists in Israel in recent years.

(12-26) 23:07 PST BEIT SHEMESH, Israel (AP) —

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

Naama Margolese is a pale, blue-eyed, 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.”

Her plight has drawn new attention to the simmering issue of religious coercion in Israel, and the increasing brazenness of extremists in the insular ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.

“When I walk to school in the morning I used to get a tummy ache because I was so scared … that they were going to stand and start yelling and spitting,” she said softly in an interview with The Associated Press Monday. “They were scary. They don’t want us to go to the school.”

The new 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 an encroachment on their territory. Dozens of black-hatted men jeer and physically accost the girls almost daily, the students say.

Televised images of Naama sobbing en route to school have shocked many Israelis, elicited statements of outrage from the country’s leadership, sparked a Facebook page with nearly 10,000 followers dedicated to “protecting little Naama” and plans for a demonstration this week in her honor.

“Who’s afraid of an 8-year-old student?” blared Sunday’s main headline in the leading Yediot Ahronot daily.

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.

Naama’s case has been especially shocking because of her young age and because she attends a religious school and dresses with long sleeves and a skirt. Extremists, however, consider even that outfit, standard in mainstream Jewish religious schools, to be immodest.

This week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke out against the violence. (GEE, WOW)

“The Israel police are taking, and will take, action to arrest and stop those who spit, harass or raise a hand. This has no place in a free and democratic state,” he told his Cabinet.

The abuse and segregation of women in Israel in ultra-Orthodox areas is nothing new, and critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye.

The ultra-Orthodox are perennial king-makers in Israeli coalition politics — two such parties serve as key members of Netanyahu’s coalition. They receive generous government subsidies, and police have traditionally been reluctant to enter their communities.

The ultra-Orthodox Jews make up 10 percent of Israel’s population and are its fastest growing sector because of a high birth rate. In the past, they have generally confined their strict lifestyle to their own neighborhoods. But they have become increasingly aggressive in trying to impose their ways on others, as their population has grown and spread to new areas.

“It is clear that Israeli society is faced with a challenge that I am not sure it can handle,” said Menachem Friedman, a professor emeritus of Bar Ilan University and expert on the ultra-Orthodox, “a challenge that is no less and no more than an existential challenge.”

Most of Israel’s secular majority, in cities like Tel Aviv and Haifa, is not directly affected, but in a few places like Beit Shemesh — a city of 100,000 people that include ultra-Orthodox, modern Orthodox and secular Jews — tensions have erupted into the open.

The abuse of the girls is an example. The girls’ parents take turns escorting their daughters into school property to protect them. The parents, too, have been cursed and spat upon. (DO NOT TRY THIS IN TEXAS FOLKS)

Hadassa Margolese, Naama’s 30-year-old Chicago-born mother, an Orthodox Jew who covers her hair and wears long sleeves and a long skirt, says, “It shouldn’t matter what I look like. Someone should be allowed to walk around in sleeveless shirts and pants and not be harassed.”

On Monday, dozens of ultra-Orthodox men heckled AP journalists who were filming a sign calling for segregation of sidewalks outside their synagogue, chanting “shame on you,””get out of here” and “anti-Semites.”

Also Monday, several dozen ultra-Orthodox men threw rocks at a Channel 10 TV crew and at police and set a trash can on fire, police said. One man was arrested.

City spokesman Matityahu Rosenzweig condemned the violence but said it is the work of a small minority and has been taken out of proportion.

“Every society has its fringes, and the police should take action on this,” he said.

For Margolese, the recent clashes — and the price of exposing her young daughter — boil down to a fight over her very home.

“They want to push us out of Beit Shemesh. They want to take over the city,” said Margolese.

http://972mag.com/watch-ultra-orthodox-spit-on-immodest-8-year-old-girl-in-bet-shemesh/31268/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2011/12/26/international/i230741S00.DTL#ixzz1hivcl1qN

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About RICK MILLER

Hello, my name is Rick Miller, welcome to comprehensive photography. In the name 'comprehensive', means to have a pretty solid grasp about the art of contemporary photography, and how the tools (both hardware and software) are all used together to produce a very precious product to meet your needs. Photography simply means that we are able to capture an image through the use of light and film, or, by using digital chips in very sophisticated cameras. My guess is that you "GOOGLED" something about photography to find us here on this website (don't you love Goggle?). I live in Santa Rosa and Eureka, California, about 40 miles (Eureka is a bit further north) north of the golden gate bridge with my wife Pat and our two boys — Ben, and Jeremy. My daughter, Sarah, is grown and lives in Portland Oregon. I am strictly a digital photographer, although I have purchased thousands of rolls of Fugi ASA 400 (now called ISO, the digital cameras auto-correction, for light compensation). Our negatives are all digitized and burned onto a DVD. I've been shooting digital for over five years, with my previous 28 working for AT&T (in digital transport via fiber, DS1, and DS3) — during which time I was a manager in charge of 911, and all "First Responder" communications, for 5 years. I shoot mostly with Canon products — my two camera bodies, and all my lenses are Canon. I edit in a variety of software. Adobe Lightroom and I use Apple's "Aperture" (I'm a Mac person), "Light Room" and "Adobe CS4 Extended". These are tough economic times, anyone out of work and financial issues knows what I mean. I also know how important it is to document special times in our personal lives, without costing a lot. I love working with you, and creating a quality product that will best capture those special moments in time forever. So don't let these tough times stop you from documenting YOUR special times, let's get together and make memories. Have you ever been feeling a little low and maybe started thinking of someone special, and then gone to a photo album or watched a slide show and re-filled your heart with joy? It is truly worth it. This website is growing very fast, it is meant for business but it is also meant for fun (Thank You Rod Remelin). Please feel free to shoot me an E-Mail, and tell me what you like, hate or feel indifferent about. Thank You for being here Sincerely Rick Miller

Posted on December 27, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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