An ultra-Orthodox man has been filmed riding his bike up to a bus and vandalizing the image of a woman in an advertisement on the back of the vehicle in the city of Bnei Brak, drawing outrage.
In footage published Sunday by Hebrew-language media, the man can be seen riding an electric bike on Rabbi Akiva Street, the main street of the Haredi-majority city near Tel Aviv, and following a bus belonging to the Dan company.
As the bus stops at a traffic light, the man stops and proceeds to tear off the image of Israeli model Galit Gutman from a poster advertising a beauty salon.
Gutman subsequently said the act was “ugly, shameful and violent.”
תיעוד: חרדי רכוב על אופניים משחית תמונת אישה על אוטובוס בבני ברק pic.twitter.com/iZjhu95ShX
— חדשות 13 (@newsisrael13) December 8, 2019
“I’m shocked,” she told Channel 12. “There isn’t anything in that photo that should annoy anyone, and despite that my very existence as a woman is a disturbance to a certain sector in society.
“We need to wake up. I do not intend to minimize my femininity for anyone. Our presence in the media, in politics and everywhere should be increased,” Gutman added.
Uri Keidar, executive director of liberal advocacy group Be Free Israel, called the incident “criminal vandalism.”
“Whoever isn’t interested in seeing women in the public sphere and in decision-making positions should understand that that backward viewpoint cannot get a honorable place in Israeli public discourse,” he said.
“It is time for advertising agencies and public transportation companies to start taking action against this phenomenon in cooperation with police, including personal lawsuits for damage caused by those who vandalize posters with women’s images,” he continued.
“The State of Israel will not become ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,'” Keidar added, referring to the dystopian novel and TV series in which women are subjugated.
MK Yulia Malinovsky of the right-wing secular Yisrael Beytenu party commented: “Gender-based vandalism of posters is continuing to happen as a matter of routine, and in broad daylight.” She added that she had tried to pass legislation to punish such offenders, but it was opposed by the government.
Some ultra-Orthodox Jews object to photos of women in public places or media on grounds of modesty. For decades there have been repeated incidents of posters featuring women defaced in Jerusalem and other cities.
המשטרה חוקרת מי משחית חלונות ראווה באשדוד בהן מוצגות בובות נשים ושלטי חוצות בהן מופיעות תמונות נשים. הבובות והתמונות הוצגו בלבוש מלא. מ"מ ראש עיריית אשדוד אבי אמסלם: "חייבים למצות את הדין עם מי שעושה מעשה ונדליזם ולוקח את החוק לידיים@pozailov1 (צילום: אשדודנט) pic.twitter.com/0DX2hrub1X
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) December 3, 2019
Last week, billboards bearing images of women and storefronts displaying female mannequins were found vandalized in the southern city of Ashdod.