Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

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ISRAEL: Writing on the wall

February 27, 2008 |  1:59 pm

Modesty Modesty is at times an issue in Israel ,too. Its self-appointed enforcers are perhaps less institutionalized than in some of its neighbors. Shopping malls are safe. But ad-hoc patrols have been known to scold, intimidate and even assault women failing to conform to strict modesty standards — mostly in ultra-Orthodox circles.

In January 2007, a rally attended by rabbis in Jerusalem ended with the burning of 'impure' clothing. "We will get rid of the tight clothes," read a sign held by one protester. Among the abominations was, of course, lycra. Actually, I know several liberal dressers who'd agree.

"Your modesty [is] for your own good," reads the graffiti. Whether merely a brotherly piece of advice or missing an "or else," this slogan appeared on several walls in the town of Beit Shemesh this week.

— Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem