JERUSALEM: A small Jewish newspaper in Israel is making waves internationally for removing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo from a photo of this week’s Paris march because ultra-Orthodox beliefs do not allow pictures of women in newspapers and magazines.
World leaders had linked arms to march in Paris on Sunday against terrorism after the attack on French magazine Charlie Hebdo last week. Angela Merkel stood in the front row between French President Francois Hollande and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas.
But readers of Hamevaser newspaper’s Monday edition didn’t know as she had been digitally removed, leaving Abbas standing beside French President Francois Hollande.
Israeli media joked it was meant to bring Mahmud Abbas closer to Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu, who was standing nearby.
In Jerusalem, ultra-Orthodox Jews frequently deface buses and billboards bearing advertising carrying images of women. Visitors to the religious neighbourhood of Mea Shaarim are greeted with signs saying: “Please do not pass through our neighbourhood in immodest clothes.”
“A woman’s exterior should not be seen and photographed or paraded in front of men,” said Yosef Haim, a neighbourhood resident.
“I think it’s a very positive thing. Binyamin Lipkin, editor of Hamevaser, said the newspaper is a family publication that must be suitable for all audiences, including young children.
“The eight-year-old can’t see what I don’t want him to see,” he told Israel’s Channel 10 television station.
“True, a picture of Angela Merkel should not ruin the child, but if I draw a line, I have to put it there from the bottom all the way to the top.”
Shmuel Pappenhym, an ultra-Orthodox commentator, had another view. He said that while Jews must preserve their values, the newspaper had gone too far.
“The Hamevaser newspaper does a thing like this, tomorrow it appears in Germany, it appears all over Europe, the rest of the world.
“It mocks the Jewish Orthodox community. It makes us look narrow-minded. It makes us look obtuse,” he said.
Published in Dawn January 15th , 2015