Translated from daily De Volkskrant in The Netherlands:
No women any more on the Jerusalem city bus
Rolf Bos – 05/09/12, 08:52
In the city where women are the majority, they are disappearing more and more from ads on the streets. This week the Israeli bus company Egged decided that they will ban an ad campaign with pictures of women on the sides of city buses in Jerusalem. The company fears vandalism by ultra-orthodox Jewish men.
Egged defies a ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court. The judges ruled two months ago that censorship of the female images in advertising is illegal. Egged, one of the largest bus companies in the world, however, has a creative solution. In Jerusalem, the green buses will have no more images of any humans – both women and men.
In Jerusalem, but also in other places in Israel like Bnei Brak and Beit Shemesh, there is a quickly growing group of ultra-Orthodox Jews. Some of the men within this community are strongly opposed to advertisements in the streets which women are portrayed.
They tear images of women from walls or smear them with paint.
In Jerusalem, a city that is becoming more religious, the self-censorship of companies in advertising was already evident. In the center there are no longer ads showing depictions of women. Banks which used to have female actresses in their campaigns now use puppets or just texts.
The progressive organization Yerushalmim (Jerusalem people) tries to turn the tide. With a female-friendly advertising campaign on the sides of the green Egged buses, the organization wanted to get the precarious position of women in Jerusalem into the spotlight.
The intended text under the photos of four decently dressed, cheerful women was: “Women of Jerusalem, it’s good to meet you. For Jerusalem belongs to us all. “
Egged decided this week that the ad, after months of wrangling about the length of the sleeves of the depicted women, would not be used. A spokesman said: “The display of these advertisements on buses driving through ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods would be hazardous to the passengers. Also, the vehicles might be destroyed.” …
On Internet forums Israelis decry it as a disgrace that the national bus company bows to the demands of the fanatics within the Jewish community. ‘Ultra Orthodox = Ayatollahs’, they say, and “What is really the difference between sharia and halacha (Jewish religious law, ed)?”
From daily Haaretz in Israel:
It is possible and desirable to boycott Egged of whose drivers only 0.4 percent are women – also part of its discrimination against them – and not even one has succeeded in becoming a member with a share in the cooperative.