Young Girl Spit Upon, Terrorized by Ultra-Orthodox Men Sparks Rally of Thousands Against Religious Extremism in Israel

Cross-posted from Tikkun Daily.

For years, secular citizens and municipal authorities alike have turned a blind eye as ultra-Orthodox extremists – mirroring the Taliban – have imposed strict gender segregation and modesty rules in public spaces in Israel, forcing women off of sidewalks, banishing them to the back of buses and assaulting those who dare show tiny amounts of skin.

However, after a recent Channel 2 news report on 8-year-old Na’ama Margolis and her heartbreaking story of trauma – a story of the gauntlet of abuse she suffers at the hands of ultra-Orthodox men on her walk to school every morning – few in Israel are turning a blind eye anymore. Indeed, it’s all the country has been able to talk about in recent days.

The news report, which aired on Friday and shows Na’ama crying as her American-born mother shields her while walking to school, immediately galvanized the anger of a nation that for too long has been quiet on the issue of gender segregation and rising religious coercion.

By Tuesday evening, that galvanized anger had suddenly and unexpectedly translated into a massive rally near Na’ama’s school in Beit Shemesh (near Jerusalem), where nearly 10,000 citizens from across the country chanted against religious extremism and offered support to those who, like Na’ama, were suffering at the hands of a tiny, yet powerful religious minority.

With settler violence on the rise – violence that has led to attacks against both Palestinians and Israeli police, violence that has led to the burning of mosques and vandalism on IDF bases – the issue of religious extremism was already one that had taken center stage in the public discourse.

Now, after the airing of Na’ama’s story and Tuesday’s massive rally, Israel’s very soul – its nature and future as a State – is an issue that not only hangs in the balance, but now hangs on the tongues of citizens everywhere.

What Israel will look like in twenty years remains uncertain. However, what is certain today is this: Tuesday’s rally brought tears of joy to Na’ama’s mother and a smile to Na’ama’s face, for they know that they are not alone in what is becoming a national struggle against religious extremism.


Follow me on Twitter @David_EHG.

To read more pieces like this, sign up for Tikkun Daily’s free newsletter, sign up for Tikkun Magazine emails or visit us online. You can also like Tikkun on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


About David Harris-Gershon

David Harris-Gershon – a blogger for Tikkun magazine and a freelance writer on Israel, the Middle East and America’s role in the region – has recently published work in The Jerusalem Post, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, AlterNet, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Colorado Review and elsewhere. His memoir – What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife? – is forthcoming from Oneworld Publications (2013). He received his MFA from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and has worked extensively as an educator, teaching creative writing and Israeli History / Jewish Studies in university and high school classrooms. Follow David on Twitter @David_EHG

Posted on December 27, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. If Na’ama Margolis is a Statesider [US Citizen] this puts a new twist on her being attacked by
    haredim [hassled, spit upon, called whore, etc.]…She cud wear a US Flag pin on her clothing
    and/or a US Flag kerchief over her hair? She cud yell, “Quit touching me, pervert!” and shoot
    her molesters with a water pistol filled with pepper-juice? Other women cud unite and shove
    the ‘leader’ of the ultras off the bus, sidewalk, etc. scream Hebrew invectives and slap the spitters [with open hands]?..Whatever can be legally self-defense, not assault?..Aaron Allen…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: