Girl’s plight deepens Israel debate on zealot Jews
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stepped up pledges to curb Jewish zealotry in Israel on Sunday after an 8-year-old girl complained of being menaced by ultra-Orthodox men who deemed her dress immodest.
While his conservative government insists such incidents are fringe phenomena in the mostly secular country, Netanyahu’s repeated announcements on the matter reflected concern about widening religious and political schisms.
“In a Western, liberal democracy, the public realm is open and safe for all, men and women both, and neither harassment nor discrimination have any place there,” the prime minister told his cabinet in broadcast remarks.
He said he had ordered law enforcement authorities to crack down on “whoever spits, whoever lifts a hand (in violence), whoever harasses” and to remove street signs segregating men from women in some ultra-Orthodox districts.