Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Protests Provoke Fury in Israel Leaders Denounce 'Appalling' Use of Holocaust Imagery

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Protests Provoke Fury in Israel Leaders Denounce 'Appalling' Use of Holocaust Imagery

Article excerpt

JERUSALEM -- With public fury over some ultra-Orthodox groups mounting, Israeli leaders on Sunday denounced ultra-Orthodox protesters who took to the streets of Jerusalem on Saturday night and put young boys on display wearing yellow stars and striped prison camp uniforms reminiscent of the Holocaust.

Organizers of the demonstration said they had been protesting what they called growing incitement against their community, with Israeli and foreign news media focusing on ultra-Orthodox zealots who have been increasingly encroaching on the public sphere, enforcing gender segregation and the exclusion of women and girls in accordance with their strict interpretation of religious modesty rules.

One Israeli television program recently reported how an 8-year- old girl, the daughter of American immigrants who are observant modern Orthodox Jews, had become terrified of walking to school in the city of Beit Shemesh after ultra-Orthodox men spit on her, insulted her and called her a prostitute because her modest dress did not conform exactly to their more rigorous dress code.

Tensions were further fueled by the arrest of an ultra-Orthodox man here last week on a charge of sexual harassment after he verbally abused a female Israeli soldier who had refused to move to the back of a public bus. An organizer of Saturday's protest in the ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood told Israeli television that the actions of the authorities were like a "spiritual holocaust."

But mainstream Israeli leaders expressed outrage over the provocative use of Holocaust imagery, saying it insulted the memory of victims of the Nazis.

Many Israelis are depicting the religious tensions as a battle over democratic values and the future character of the country.

The protesters numbered only a few hundred, but in the current climate of discord and animosity, the use of children and Holocaust imagery was calculated to cause the maximum aggravation. …

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