Women who sued to remove Israeli city’s modesty signs get death threats


JERUSALEM (JTA) — At least two of the women who asked Israel’s Supreme Court to remove signs in Beit Shemesh that demand women dress modestly have been targeted with death threats.

The women said they received calls on Thursday and Friday threatening them with a kabbalistic ritual calling for their deaths, Israel’s Ynet new website reported.

Posters also were hung in the city, which has a large and growing haredi Orthodox population, giving the women’s personal details including their addresses, phone numbers and the names of their children. The posters urged people to call the women and stop agitating against the signs, according to Ynet.

The women lodged a complaint with the Beit Shemesh police.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the municipality of a lower court order in July to remove the signs. The high court ruled the signs must come down by mid-December, with the justices saying they exclude women from the public sphere.

The court also ordered the Israel Police to prevent new signs from being put up to replace the old ones.

On Thursday, the municipality attempted to remove the signs for the second time in less than a week, but were blocked by extremists, who immediately began to replace the signs.

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 haredi and non-haredi 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 haredim on the way to school for her perceived immodest dress.

Recommended from JTA