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Ultra-Orthodox site blurs face of Labor’s female leader

Merav Michaeli censored from group photo of party chiefs in so-called ‘change bloc’

An ultra-Orthodox news site in Israel blurred the face of the only woman in a photo published on June 7, 2021. (Screenshot from Behadrei Haredim via JTA)
An ultra-Orthodox news site in Israel blurred the face of the only woman in a photo published on June 7, 2021. (Screenshot from Behadrei Haredim via JTA)

An ultra-Orthodox publication in Israel published a photo on its website Monday that blurs the face of the Labor Party’s leader, Merav Michaeli.

Behadrei Haredim did not explain its decision on the photo, which was used with a story about Israel’s incoming government, but the reason was likely because Michaeli is a woman.

Haredi publications have blurred, photoshopped, or otherwise excluded photos of women from their pages for years.

Most famously in the United States, Der Zeitung photoshopped Hillary Clinton, then serving as secretary of state, out of a photo taken in the Situation Room on the day that US forces assassinated Osama bin Laden in 2011.

(L-R) Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, Yamina chair Naftali Bennett, New Hope chair Gideon Sa’ar, Blue and White head Benny Gantz, Ra’am chair Mansour Abbas, Labor head Merav Michaeli and Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz at a meeting of the heads of the would-be-coalition in Tel Aviv, June 6, 2021. (Ra’anan Cohen)

The publications have argued that the decision to exclude women from their photos stems from the modesty required of women in Orthodox Jewish communities and that readers would not buy publications that show the faces of women. The policy has inspired campaigns to push the ultra-Orthodox publications to print women’s faces, but few have changed their policies.

Labor head Merav Michaeli celebrates with supporters in Tel Aviv on March 23, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/ Flash90)

Michaeli is slated to serve as transportation minister in the new government, which is expected to be seated in the next week. The Labor leader — a gender-equality activist and the only female party leader in the Knesset — is famously didactic in combating the gendered nature of Hebrew by referring to Israelis in both the male and female pronouns.

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