A female soldier who was called “slut” and a “shiksa” by extremist haredim last
December after refusing to move to the back of a “mehadrin” bus reentered the
public sphere this week when she was featured in a modeling campaign from
well-known Israeli model agency owner Adi Barkan.
Some of the
ultra-Orthodox forums online called the publication of Doron Matalon’s photos “a
direct provocation” and accused her of using the shiksa incident for her own
On December 29, 2011, the 19-year-old soldier was sitting in
uniform towards the front of bus No. 49, which runs from the northern Neveh
Ya’acov neighborhood through Ramat Eshkol toward the haredi neighborhood of
According to police, a man in haredi garb asked Matalon to
move to the back of the bus.
When she ignored him, he reportedly called
her a slut and continued to harass her.
Matalon told reporters that other
men started joining in, calling her “slut” and “shiksa” and insisting she move
to the back of the bus, until the driver called the police.
“It was very
frightening,” Matalon told Israel Radio, adding that she had replied to the man,
“You can move to the back if you want. Just like you don’t want to see my face,
I don’t want to see yours.”
Shlomo Fuchs, 44, was arrested and indicted
for sexually harassing Matalon, though he maintained during police proceedings
that women have no right to sit in mixed seating and the action against him was
the result of anti-haredi bias.
“If we’re in a democratic society, it
shouldn’t be that people can yell at you when you get on the bus because of the
way you’re dressed,” Adi Barkan told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. “She’s not
a shiksa, she’s not any more impure than you, and however she chooses to go you
need to respect this. I don’t hear people yelling at religious women because of
the way that they’re dressed,” he said.
Barkan dismissed claims that
Matalon decided to pursue a modeling career in order to provoke the haredim, or
that the model exaggerated the shiksa incident in order to launch that career.
Matalon signed with Barkan 16 months ago but is only working with him part-time
while she is in the army. Barkan added that Matalon turned down an offer to work
in Milan as a model for six months that would have required her to postpone her
Barkan is best known as the force behind the “photo shop
law” an initiative to cut down on eating disorders among models, that requires a
healthy BMI (Body Mass Index) for all models, which will go into effect in
The shiksa incident came at a time of increased tensions between
extremist haredim and the rest of the Israeli public, who were shocked by
similar attacks on Natalie Moshiach traveling on the Ashdod- Jerusalem line, and
eight-yearold Naama Margolese who was terrified to walk to school because of
haredi protesters outside her elementary school.
Two days after Fuchs
harassed Matalon, thousands of haredim gathered in Kikar Shabbat, some dressed
in Holocaust- style prisoner outfits, to protest the “persecution” against
haredim that they claimed was similar to the treatment of Jews in Europe in
World War II.
Because it serves primarily Orthodox neighborhoods, the No.
49 bus is one of the lines considered “de facto mehadrin,” meaning men sit in
the front and women sit in the back.
In January 2011, the High Court of
Justice accepted the recommendations of the Transportation Ministry, mandating
that seating on Egged buses be completely voluntary. The passengers may decide
to sit separately according to gender, but it is illegal for passengers to force
someone to sit in a specific part of the bus.
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