Tensions remain high in Israel
Two Ultra-Orthodox Jewish boys cover their faces as a man passes in Beit Shemesh. AP photoHundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews protested the evening of Dec. 29 on a Beit Shemesh street, throwing rocks, blocking traffic and burning trash cans in the ongoing tension between secularists and ultra-Orthodox Jewish extremists. The protest came two days after thousands of Israelis gathered to protest against ultra-Orthodox extremism.
The incident began as a small local gathering of about 20 people, who waved signs with slogans attacking Zionism, daily Haaretz reported. Earlier Dec. 28, an 8-year-old girl, Naama Margolese, who became the symbol of a recent public struggle against gender segregation and religious extremism, returned to school for the first time since a violent incident that sparked a nation-wide protest movement. Margolese said on national television that ultra-Orthodox men had spat at her on her way to school, accusing her of immodest dress. Interior Minister Eli Yishai came out strongly against splitting Beit Shemesh into separate haredi and non-haredi cities, telling a haredi radio station that such a move would be disastrous for the haredim, black-coated Jews who are in “awe” of God. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s associates confirmed the prime minister had discussed such a possibility with Yishai but said it was unlikely to be adopted.