Female soldier harassed by haredim becomes model

Female soldier called “slut,” a “shiksa” by extremist haredim after refusing to go to back of “mehadrin” bus, makes it big.

Haredi man near a bus 311 (photo credit: (Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post))
Haredi man near a bus 311
(photo credit: (Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post))
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 benefit.
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 Sanhedria.
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 army service.
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 January.
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.