Ultra-conservatives are forbidden to look at women as per their faith

Jerusalem police received help from an unexpected quarter when officers riding horses tried to disperse a street protest by ultra-Orthodox Haredi Jews on May 18 -a few women stripped the upper part of their bodies, and wore only bras- making protesters go away as they are forbidden as per dictates of their faith to look at the partially undressed women. This was a welcome relief for the police in Jerusalem as hundreds of protestors have earlier clashed with law enforcement on the issue of holding Eurovision Song Contest final during the day of Shabbat. Tel Aviv hosted the Eurovision event in 2019. The final started after Shabbat ran its course in the evening. Preparations for the event, however, were done all day.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews blocked Haneviim Street and paralyzed traffic during the weekend. A few protestors even attacked police officers who responded to control the demonstration. They were heard to shout “Shabbes” in the Yiddish language and claimed that the Eurovision schedule desecrated. In retaliation a small women group counter-protested by taking off their respective shirts, revealing bras. The ultra-Orthodox Jews were forced to exit the venue.

The protests were ignited after work permits for Eurovision was issued in the morning. The permits incensed an ultra-Orthodox political party so much that they temporarily suspended all coalition negotiations and began their Jerusalem protest march. Jews who follow the ultra-Orthodox strain of Judaism strictly follows a day of no work on Shabbat, the day of rest every week. It begins on the sundown of Friday and continues until night falls on Saturday.

One of the chief rabbis of Israel was not happy with the Eurovision schedule. He asked those who follow Shabbat to extend the observance of the custom in the holy day by about 20 minutes to mark their protest against the “great desecration.” The ultra-Orthodox Jews follow several customs which can only be described as outdated. A few conservative Jews even go to the extent of objecting to photographs of women, even if the women in question are clothed. The reasoning behind such a conservative attitude is seemingly that of modesty. It is not unusual to see pictures of women defaced in many Israeli cities, including Jerusalem, the capital city of the country. These defacements are usually the handwork of Haredi protesters who strike during the night or at times when passersby are fewer in number.

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