“There is no reason on earth for a person to raise a hand – let alone on helpless girls.” Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbul said Tuesday in reference to Na’ama Margolis, the seven-year-old girl who was spat on by a haredi man who claimed she was not dressed “modestly enough.”
Addressing the recent acts of violence against women in his city perpetrated by local ultra-Orthodox, the mayor said “there is no pardon for those who behave provocatively. Rioters should be dealt with a firm hand.”
Abutbul spoke to reporters at his office just hours before a mass demonstration is expected to take place in the city against the exclusion of women from the public sphere. “Beith Shemesh denounces such behavior. Violent men belong behind bars. I urge Israel Police to act with a firm hand against all the rioters, and I call on you (the press) not to put all (the ultra-Orthodox) in one basket,” the mayor said.
The mayor’s office rejected claims that municipality was backing the exclusion of women in the city. City officials mentioned that since Abutbul took office five women – all secular – were appointed to senior positions in the municipality.
“The exclusion of women may exist on some streets or in some neighborhoods, but it has nothing to do with the municipality or its policies,” one official said. Jerusalem Police has completed its preparations for the mass rally, with hundreds of officers being deployed to maintain order and secure the demonstrators.
Mayor Abutbul said he welcomes the protesters to Beit Shemesh “to send a clear message against violence perpetrated by a few (members of the Sicarri sect) who shame the city and all of Israeli society.”
On Monday the City of Beit Shemesh announced that it would install between 300 and 400 surveillance cameras throughout the city as part of the effort to curb the growing violence.
On Sunday, The Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs approved the expansion of a bill banning fur trade in Israel.
The committee unanimously approved an amendment to Knesset Member Ronit Tirosh’s bill, which called for the prohibition of the trade of the fur of cats and dogs. Currently the bill calls for a ban on the trade of fur from all animals. Although this does not apply to fur that is used to make clothing items regularly worn by the ultra-Orthdodox, such as shtreimels – while on the other hand there is no halachic requirement to wear such hats.
A comprehensive ban on all fur is also expected to ease the work of the Customs Authority in preventing the importing and distribution of fur products, because its agents will not have to distinguish the animal of origin of each particular item.
Now that the amendment has gone unanimously approved by the legislative committee, the Education, Culture and Sports Ministry committee is scheduled to hold a vote on the new amendment later in the month. After the committee’s approval, the bill will be put to a second and then third reading before finally being passed into law.
The sale of fur in Israel is relatively limited because of the short winters and the steep prices of imported clothing items. Boutiques that do sell fur get by with importing a very small amount of items.
One boutique owner who has imported fur coats to Israel for years, expressed her dissatisfaction with the legislation:
“I don’t understand who they are trying to target with this bill…Over the past few years importers have reduced the number of fur coats they order in the wintertime due to the warm climate, so now they want to pass a law that would ban the importing of fur items? Who exactly does this law relate to? Four boutiques at Kikar Hamedina?”
A store owner in Bnei Brak said of his shtreimels:
“Contrary to popular belief, the hats are made from tails of animals that have already been killed for the fashion industry. So they should first stop making fur coats for all the millionaires.”