Egged and the company in charge of bus advertisements have decided that rather
than be forced to put up ads with women in Jerusalem due to court action
claiming discrimination against the gender, they will remove all people – both
men and women – from the bus advertisements.
Starting August 1, Cnaan
Advertising quietly removed all persons from their bus advertisements in the
capital. The policy was clearly laid out in a letter from Egged to Cnaan
obtained by The Jerusalem Post
: “In the Jerusalem area there will be no images
of people at all, though in other parts of the country it will be possible to
use such images,” the letter from July 31 stated.
Cnaan, the company
responsible for the bus ads, claims that haredi extremists have defaced buses
with paint and stones and even set an empty bus on fire because of ads featuring
images of women they deemed “immodest.” Cnaan refused to run any advertisements
with women, claiming that it will cause the company financial damage, and
activists accused the company of discrimination against women. After the
Transportation Ministry said it would refuse to work with any companies that
discriminate based on gender on July 11, legal advisers from Egged and Cnaan
decided the best course of action would be to remove any people from bus
“The fact that they are taking down pictures in a
democratic state is very problematic,” said Rabbi Uri Ayalon, CEO of the
Jerusalemites Movement, a political group whose aim is to promote pluralism and
equal rights in Jerusalem. “This is very destructive to freedom of
“They spell it out, that’s the worst part, that it is OK for
them to say something like this,” he added. “Our struggle is not about bus
advertising, it’s about the character of Israel.”
Egged spokesman Ron
Ratner said that advertisements will have “text and visuals but no photos of men
“We think the central thing that we need to worry about is the
quality of the bus and the safety of the passengers, the advertising is just
something on the sidelines,” he said.
Ratner said the policy will be
enforced until the end of Egged’s contract with Cnaan in October
The saga started in November 2011, when the Jerusalemites Movement
tried to launch an advertising campaign titled “Women of Jerusalem, Nice to Meet
You.” The group purchased advertising space on Egged buses and
photographed women of various ages and backgrounds wearing modest clothes, with
the goal of “reclaiming the public sphere,” the movement’s community organizer
Marik Shtern said earlier this year.
But Cnaan refused to run the
advertising campaign. The Jerusalemites Movement turned to the courts, and filed
a petition to require the Transportation Ministry to withhold licenses from any
companies that engage in gender discrimination. Before the court submitted their
ruling, the ministry accepted all of the movement’s requests in July, negating
the need for a court decision, and assumed responsibility for enforcing the
Aviad Hacohen, the lawyer for the Jerusalemites Movement who
filed the petition, said on Tuesday that the organization will wait to see
whether the Transportation Ministry plans to intervene. They will also
request that the court reexamine the issue.
Ayalon said that prior to the
decision to remove all men and women from advertisements, Cnaan had requested
the group make a number of changes to their advertising campaign. At first,
Cnaan asked that the women in the campaign wear T-shirts and not tank tops.
Ayalon said he grudgingly agreed, because he believed the goal of the campaign
was more important than fighting over the tops. But then Cnaan asked them to
have women wearing only long sleeves past their elbows, he refused.
didn’t agree to that, we’re not going to agree to lengthen the sleeves even a
millimeter more,” he said. He added that the requests were most likely stalling
tactics while the legal advisers made the final decision to remove all people
from the ads.
Cnaan refused multiple requests for comment.
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