Israel's ultra-orthodox media blurs women politicians in govt picture

Two ultra-orthodox news outlets concealed the faces and bodies of female ministers in pictures of Israel's new cabinet Thursday, renewing public debate over the practice.
Members-of-the-newly-sworn-in-government-of-Israel-pose-for-a-group-photo-in-Jerusalem-AFP-photo
Members-of-the-newly-sworn-in-government-of-Israel-pose-for-a-group-photo-in-Jerusalem-AFP-photo
Updated on May 22, 2015 11:33 AM IST
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AFP | By, Jerusalem Jerusalem Jerusalem Jerusalem

Two ultra-orthodox news outlets concealed the faces and bodies of female ministers in pictures of Israel's new cabinet Thursday, renewing public debate over the practice.

Members of the newly sworn-in 34th government posed for the traditional group photo at the presidential compound in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
The picture shows three women at the centre -- Miri Regev (sports and culture), Ayelet Shaked (justice), and Gila Gamliel (minister for senior citizens) -- surrounded by 21 men.

Ultra-orthodox website Behadrey Haredim, which calls itself the "world's largest Haredim (ultra-Orthodox) portal", published the picture but blurred the women's faces.

"It's sad that technologically Behadrey Haredim has reached the 21st century, but as far as excluding women (from the public domain), it's still in the Middle Ages," said Rabbi Uri Regev, whose Hiddush movement advocates "religious liberty and the liberal movements of Judaism".
The ultra-Orthodox print press sidestepped the issue on Wednesday by not publishing the picture.

On Thursday, however, the weekly Yom Leyom newspaper, closely identified with the ultra-orthodox Shas that is part of the new coalition, published it, completely deleting the women, apart from Gamliel's feet which survived the cut.

"Shas's newspaper presents -- the transparent ones," head of the leftwing opposition Meretz party Zehava Galon wrote on Facebook, alluding to Shas declaration during campaigning that it would be a voice for the oppressed and "transparent" strata of the Israeli society.

Behadrey Haredim editor Avi Grintsaig said the practice of deleting women from pictures was not derived from Jewish law, "and certainly doesn't reflect our opinion on the women at hand".

Ultra-orthodox publications tend to avoid publishing pictures that include women on what they call grounds of modesty, but at times resort to creative solutions when the picture's value is high.

Behadrey Haredim's competition, Kikar Hashabat, hid US reality TV star Kim Kardashian in a handout photo of her meeting with Jerusalem's mayor last month.

In January, Haredi newspaper Hamevaser "vanished" German Chancellor Angela Merkel from a picture of world leaders marching in Paris against terrorism.

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