Israelis face a lot of hostility in the Middle East – even within their own borders. Tensions are at a new high between one group of ultra-orthodox Jews and other, less-religious Israelis.
Beit Shemesh in Israel is home to many ultra-orthodox Jews known as the Haredi. Orthodox and secular Jews live there as well. And they don’t necessarily live in peace. The community is a flashpoint of religious tension.
Women have been at the center of the unrest. Last month, some Haredi men heckled and spat on an eight-year-old girl for dressing in a way they considered immodest. Haredim have become outraged when women refused to sit at the back of the bus on routes they consider theirs. Many secular Israelis are uncomfortable with the segregation of the sexes in Haredi communties. And they resent supporting Haredi men who don’t work so they can study the Torah.
The ultra-orthodox population is also exempt from serving in the armed forces. In the past month, Haredi and secular Israelis have protested against what they believe are infringements on their rights. Many Israelis feel this can’t continue.