Supreme Court orders Beit Shemesh to remove modesty signs
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Supreme Court orders Beit Shemesh to remove modesty signs

Court rules placards must come down by December 12; justice says 'Israel does not have streets that are closed to women'

Ultra-Orthodox Jews stand in front of a sign in Beit Shemesh asking women not to loiter there on December 26, 2011. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
Ultra-Orthodox Jews stand in front of a sign in Beit Shemesh asking women not to loiter there on December 26, 2011. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

The Supreme Court ordered the Beit Shemesh municipality to remove signs that demand women dress modestly.

On Monday, the court rejected an appeal by the municipality of a lower court order in July to remove the signs. The court ruled the signs, which the justices say exclude women from the public sphere, must come down by December 12, the Ynet news site reported.

Beit Shemesh, a city of some 110,000 that is 19 miles west of Jerusalem, was to have been fined 10,000 shekels a day, nearly $3,000, for every day the signs remained posted.

In its appeal, the municipality said the signs demanding conformity to ultra-Orthodox dress are just “ideological signs.”

“Israel does not have streets that are closed to women,” Justice Hanan Meltzer responded in the courtroom, according to Ynet.

Beit Shemesh was first ordered to remove the signs in 2015, when the High Court said that they “cause serious harm to human dignity, equality, personal choice and autonomy,” Ynet reported.

Two years later, when the signs were not removed, the women who filed the original lawsuit turned to an administrative court to enforce the ruling.

Beit Shemesh has seen conflict between ultra-Orthodox, non-ultra-Orthodox and secular residents over restrictions on women’s dress and gender-segregated seating on public buses. In a widely publicized incident in 2011, an 8-year-old Orthodox girl was spat on by ultra-Orthodox men on the way to school for her perceived immodest dress.

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