Residents of Beit Shemesh had to string up Israeli flags down a central
thoroughfare in the city for Independence Day, because, they say, the
municipality refused to do so.
Although many streets throughout Beit
Shemesh have been generously festooned with flags, Herzog Street, which runs
directly between the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet and
the more modern neighborhood of Givat Sharet, was not included in the patriotic
The municipality does not hang flags inside the
city’s haredi neighborhoods at all.
According to anti-extremism community
activist Rabbi Dov Lipman, an official in the Beit Shemesh Municipality said
that there was no point putting flags along the streets since extremists would
simply burn them.
The Beit Shemesh Municipality spokesman could not be
reached to verify the comment.
Herzog Street has become something of a
fault line in the city’s struggle between ultra-Orthodox extremists and
residents fighting what they see as the “haredification” of Beit
Extremists last year regularly picketed the Orot Banot
elementary girls school, which is on Herzog Street, in protest of what they said
was the pupils’ “immodest” dress and the close proximity of the school to their
“When the girls left school this morning, they could see
and feel that they are living in a Zionist city and not one under the control of
extremists,” said Lipman. “The time has come to do what’s right and not to give
these extremists any control whatsoever. By refraining from putting the flags up
along this street it reinforces the notion they have that ‘this is our turf.’
“Whatever happens in this city, if the municipality won’t stand up to the
extremists then the residents will.”