Ultra-Orthodox men and boys from the most stringent sects have hurled rocks and eggs at the police and journalists, shouting “Nazis” at the security forces and assailing female reporters with epithets like “shikse,” a derogatory Yiddish term for a non-Jewish woman or girl, and “whore.” Jews of varying degrees of orthodoxy and secularity headed to Beit Shemesh on Tuesday evening to join local residents in a protest numbering in the thousands against religious violence and fanaticism.
For many Israelis, this is not a fight over one little girl’s walk to school. It is a struggle that could shape the future character and soul of the country, against ultra-Orthodox zealots who have been increasingly encroaching on the public sphere with their strict interpretation of modesty rules, enforcing gender segregation and the exclusion of women.
In Mein Kampf, Hitler blamed the Jews for all of Germany’s troubles. As Führer, Hitler set out to remove Jews from public life. On September 15, 1935, the Nazi-dominated Reichstag passed the first of the Nuremberg Laws, depriving Jews of their German citizenship and forbade marriage or sexual relations between Jews and “citizens of German or cognate blood.” Subsequent laws defined as Jewish anyone with a Jewish grandparent, and declared Jews could not vote or hold public office.
An ultra-Orthodox man who verbally accosted a female Israel Defense Forces soldier on a segregated Jerusalem bus was charged with sexual harassment on Thursday, Army Radio said.
The man, Jerusalem resident Moshe Fuchs, 44, was arrested on Wednesday after he called Doron Matalon a “prostitute” after she had refused to move to the back of a bus in the city’s Ramat Eshkol neighborhood.
Ultra-Orthodox men riding a sex-segregated bus in Jerusalem.
Photo by: Emil Salman
Speaking to Haaretz on Wednesday, the soldier said she “didn’t want to move back, both on principle and because there wasn’t any room. It’s always stuffy and disgusting in the back,” Matalon said, adding that “everything was fine, I was almost at my stop, and then the conductors came on.”
At that point, the IDF soldier said, the ultra-Orthodox man chastised a woman who had come over to the front of the bus to have her ticket checked, saying: “You don’t have to come up front to check your ticket, a woman shouldn’t move to this side of the bus.”
“And then he turned to me,” Matalon said, and said ‘you too soldier, move back, and then he called me a prostitute.” According to the IDF soldier, the man was soon joined by other religious men in the bus, who proceeded to yell out “prostitute,” and “Shikse “(gentile woman).
Matalon said that at that point she “felt threatened and a huge commotion began. I yelled out for the conductor to come quick, and two male conductors rushed in. They pushed him away from me and said: ‘Why are you shouting, she’s a soldier,’ but he continued to be abusive.”
The bus was eventually ordered to stop in the city’s Levi Eshkol Blvd, where the conductors called the police. Eyewitnesses reported that the Haredi men continued his disruptive behavior even after a police officer arrived at the scene.
All those involved were taken to questioning, with the ultra-Orthodox man the only one to be arrested following the incident.
“This isn’t the first time this has happened, I just asked for help this time,” Matalon said, adding that she had experienced “worse incidents on this line,” including one in which she was shoved off the bus when her stop arrived.”
“I’m slowly calming down, but I’m not over it yet,” the IDF soldier said.
Police sources indicated that the suspected was to be held until Thursday, at which point he will face a court remand hearing.
Shiksa (Yiddish: שיקסע, Polish: siksa) or shikse, is a Yiddish and Polish word that has moved into English usage, mostly in North American Jewish culture, as a term for a non-Jewish woman, initially and sometimes still pejorative but now often used satirically. Shiksa usually refers to an attractive (stereotypically blonde) gentile woman or girl who might be a temptation to Jewish men or boys, e.g., for dating, intermarriage, etc. For some Jewish people (especially more religious types), the term may be used pejoratively (e.g. implying loose morals), but among others, it is more often used self-mockingly and satirically, to poke fun at the supposed view among Jews that non-Jewish women are more attractive than Jewish women.
Professor Frederic Cople Jaher writes:
The shiksa obsesses many Jews: Rabbis see her as an intermarital threat to the survival of Judaism; parents fear that she will lure their sons away from family and faith; and Jewish men fantasize about her sexual and social desirability. She figures prominently—even compulsively—in popular movies and bestsellers by Jewish directors and writers.
Among Orthodox Jews, the term may be used to describe a Jewish girl or woman who fails to follow Orthodox religious precepts.
The equivalent term for a non-Jewish male, used less frequently, is shegetz.
In South America (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay), the term “shiksa” is used by both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews to indicate a housekeeper or maid and not simply a non-Jewish female.
The word shiksa is etymologically partly derived from the Hebrew term שקץ, sheketz, which means “abomination”, “impure,” or “object of loathing”, depending on the translator.
Several dictionaries define “shiksa” as a disparaging and offensive term applied to a non-Jewish girl or woman.
In Polish “siksa” (pronounced “s’eeksa”) is a popular pejorative word for an immature young girl or teenage girl (or, in its masculine form, “sikus”, boy), as it is a conflation between the Yiddish term and usage of the Polish verb “sikać” (“to piss”, “to urinate”). It means “pisspants” and is roughly equivalent to the English terms “snot-nosed brat”, “little squirt”, or “kid”.[5
Ultra-Orthodox men and boys from stringent sects have hurled rocks and eggs at the police and journalists, shouting ”Nazis” at the security forces and assailing women reporters with epithets like ”whore” and ”shikse”, a derogatory Yiddish term for a non-Jewish woman or girl.
BEIT SHEMESH: The battle over religious extremism in Israel now has an unexpected public face – that of a blonde, bespectacled eight-year-old girl.
She is Naama Margolese, the daughter of US immigrants who are observant modern Orthodox Jews. A television program at the weekend told the story of how Naama had become terrified of walking to her primary school in Beit Shemesh, a Jewish city between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, after ultra-Orthodox men spat on her, insulted her and called her a prostitute because her modest dress did not adhere exactly to their more rigorous dress code.
The country was outraged. Naama’s picture has appeared on the front pages of all major Israeli newspapers. Although the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said on Sunday that ”Israel is a democratic, Western, liberal state” and pledged that ”the public sphere in Israel will be open and safe for all”, there have been days of confrontation.