An American girl attempting to walk to her Jewish school in Israel is subjected to daily taunting and physical intimidation so bad that she says it makes her afraid to go to school. Her tormenters aren't fellow children, but rather adult men upset by the presence of the "immodest" girls attending school in their ultra-Orthodox neighborhood. And now, the town's male residents are clashing with police and media over their the gender integration they say insults their faith. Eight-year-old girls can be such whores.
The case of 8-year-old Naama Margolese, who was born in Chicago, has upset some Israelis, and for good reason. She says she's afraid to walk to her all-girls school in Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem, because of taunting from Ultra-Orthodox men. They spit on her, call her a whore, throw rocks, and shout at her. As a result, Naama says her "tummy hurts" when she walks to school.
Not that it should matter, but Margolese isn't full glitzing down the street in a Nicki Minaj outfit, gaily skipping off to Toddlers & Tiaras & Kippahs school during these impromptu stoning sessions; she's walking to an Orthodox all girls' school in her uniform, which consists of a long skirt, a high-necked, long sleeved shirt. But the clothing of Naama and her classmates, modest by nearly any other standard, are not modest enough for the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men of Beit Shemesh. Parents attempting to escort their daughters to the school are also subjected to the same treatment.
In recent months, tension between the secular, Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Beit Shemesh have escalated, especially with the erection of an all-girls school the Ultra-Orthodox say is encroachment on their beliefs. The community has erected signs warning sidewalk walkers to remain separated by gender and deployed "modesty patrols" designed to make sure the natural sluttery of women is kept in check. (I feel like I've heard this one before...)
The Israeli government doesn't support segregation of the sexes or the agenda of the Ultra-Orthodox, but, according to MSNBC, they have "turned a blind eye" to much of the community's practices while awarding them generous government subsidies, as the minority fundamentalist population typically kept their hands (and rocks) to themselves. But now that the group, which comprises about 10% of Israel's population, is becoming more aggressive, police have stepped in, and they've also found themselves the objects of the group's derision. Yesterday, protesters pelted police with rocks when they attempted to remove illegal gender segregating signs, lit some garbage cans on fire, and called a news crew who attempted to film the signs "anti-Semitic." Talk about stoning the messenger.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken out strongly against the conduct of Beit Shemesh, saying that those responsible would be stopped and arrested.
Fringe group responds to minor perceived trespass on their ideology with violent overreaction that escalates into something totally out of control that ends up harming everyone involved? People are called bigots because they dared identify something as bigotry? The world continues apace.