a different side of Israel

Tag: Haredi Life

Girl Censorship in Haredi Press 2012

In a weird story of religious based censorship, a local newspaper blurred the faces of little girls that appeared in a toy store ad, without telling the store, drawing the ire of both customers and the chain. It seemed that this newspaper, which should be somewhat neutral in the process, angered everybody, and now the toy store Red Pirate is paying the price for it. This is a report of the recent events in Beit Shemesh.

It all started with innocent sounding ads, where boys and girls modeled some Purim costumes for a series of ads. These ads were then sent to Haredim papers, and that’s where the trouble began. According to the store, the newspaper board of editors took the decision to blur the girls faces, while the boys stayed fully exposed, without ever telling them about it. The firs to find out were those who read the paper and were shocked to see the advertisement. It didn’t take for many people in Beit Shemesh, where the papers are produced, to flock to the Red Pirate Facebook page and complain. One writes “I am a woman with a face, now I’ll know not to buy from your store!” Another asks “How disgusting.. Do you also spit on little girls?” The Facebook page in question was still growing daily with disappointed girls posting their thoughts.

Red Pirate meanwhile has to deal with the angry customers, while it claims it actually knew nothing of the situation. In a press release, the chain says that the newspaper took the decision and did not tell them about it. Meanwhile, the ultra-orthodox paper responds “Haredim won’t have an unclean paper enter their home.” indicating that it was done purposely. The protest meanwhile grew to impressive proportions in the community, and has no sign of stopping. It remains to be seen whether the paper will change it’s views or not on the issue, and whether the store will try to get financial reparation from Haredim. These types of cases often end up in court, as the store will no doubt suffer from loss sales because of this. Historically, there’s been many such calls for action from protest groups, and the stores affected usually see drops in sales.

This isn’t the first time religious based decisions lead to anger, and likely won’t be the last. Many religious texts prone things that have become known as unjust in modern civilizations, such as inequalities between men and women, or archaic practices. Often however, these religions change much slower than many would like to. One thing is certain, this event is more than likely not over, and we’ll see how each party handles this issue in the future.

Ignorance is Divine

26,000 Haredi children will reach the age of 18 without knowing basic mathematics, civics, or any English at all.

SeclusionUp until now, the 260 Haredi Yeshivas that did not teach the Core Curriculum to their children were deemed inappropriate to receive governmental funding. They received such funding anyway, contra legem. But since the matter had been exposed, these Haredi institutions faced the threat of being revoked of any governmental funding unless they incorporate some math and English lessons in their curriculum.

A new law that passed in the Knesset late last week now allows this absurd situation to resume, lawfully! Ignorance is not state sponsored.

This novel measure only perpetuate the cycle of ignorance and poverty within the Haredi population, and further divides the Israeli community as a whole. Another implication of the Haredi educational system is the inability of Haredi children to be exposed to contradictory dogmas, and when some of these already grown-up children decide to question religion and to enter the realm of secularism — and be sure, these people do exist — they step outside with no tools or knowledge to help them face the secular reality.

In short, it’s an educational system that perpetuates control no less than it perpetues ignorance. While I deeply respect my Haredi brothers, I don’t think this ever-growing seclusion is doing them good.

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