JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel will take action against haredi Orthodox extremists who harass women in the public sphere, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned.
"We won’t accept spitting on people in the street just because someone doesn’t approve of their dress," Netanyahu said Wednesday at the Knesset, Haaretz reported.
He also warned against generalizing all haredi Orthodox people because of the actions of a few. "The vast majority of the Haredi public combines an adherence to Jewish tradition and a complete respect of the law," he said.
Netanyahu made his comments a day after thousands gathered in the Jerusalem suburb of Beit Shemesh to protest the exclusion of women and violence against women in the public sphere.
American Jewish groups condemned the public violence against women in Israel.
Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, said in a statement that it stands firmly against discrimination with regard to gender, religion and race.
"We denounce recent attempts by extremists to segregate and discriminate against women in public spaces in Israel," the organization said. "All of our institutions … are fully committed to equal opportunity for all."
The organization praised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres "for their public statements and call on religious and political leaders everywhere to join them in condemning and committing to end extremist positions against women."
The Jewish Federations of North America also praised Netanyahu and members of the government for their public condemnations of religious extremism and violence against women
“Our movement includes Jewish people from all streams and persuasions. Yet, despite our differing backgrounds, we unite today to strongly condemn, with one clear and loud voice, all acts of violence, intimidation, coercion and extremism, especially those that are undertaken, incredibly, in the name of Judaism,” said Jerry Silverman, president and CEO of JFNA. “We know that ‘deracheha darchei noam’ – the Torah’s paths are ways of peace. We stand firmly and resolutely behind the voices of reason and moderation in Bet Shemesh and throughout Israel.”