Friday, April 3, 2009

Jewish Taliban

"Now you see the women in the Israeli cabinet – and now you don't"

The original photograph of the Israeli cabinet, top, and the digitally altered image that appeared in the ultra orthodox newspaper Yated Neeman

Two female ministers in Israel's new right-wing government have already lost their cabinet posts – at least in certain ultra-orthodox Jewish newspapers.
In the most recent issues of Yated Neeman and Shaa Tova, the inaugural cabinet photograph has been doctored to erase ministers Limor Livnat and Sofa Landver. Ultra-orthodox newspapers consider it a violation of the core religious principle of modesty to print pictures of women, so that they are left out of, or deleted from, photographs and advertisements.
Yated Neeman moved two male ministers into the places occupied by the women. Shaa Tova simply blacked out Ms Livnat from Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party and Ms Landver from the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beytenu party.
Menachem Kenig, a hardline ultra-orthodox activist, said that the tampering did not reflect any specific animosity towards either minister. "You will never find pictures of women in ultra-orthodox newspapers, even if they are the most righteous spouses of rabbis in the world," he said. During the election campaign, posters featuring Kadima's candidate Tzipi Livni were defaced near ultra-orthodox neighbourhoods, while posters of male rivals were left untouched.
Israel's new cabinet has 30 ministers – one for every four MPs. The size reflects the deals Mr Netanyahu needed to cut with coalition partners and promises made to his own party stalwarts, but it has been criticised for being bloated and inefficient.

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