The cover picture on the Israeli newspaper HaMevaser may seem familiar to those who watched the historic march for free speech in Paris this weekend, but something is missing. If you said, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, you have a keen eye and the qualifications to be an ultra-Orthodox Jewish newspaper editor. The newspaper removed not just Merkel’s picture but the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo and Simonetta Sommaruga, the president of Switzerland as well as a European Union official. The reason? God does not want men to see pictures of women, even world leaders, for reasons of modesty and religious purity.
I have noted before the irony of the similarities between the view of such groups and extreme Muslim religious beliefs (particularly with regard to women) despite the historic tensions between the religions (here and here and here). The notion of Andrea Merkel corrupting the morals of Jewish ultra orthodox men is a new concept. It appears that the very appearance of Merkel can drive an Ultra Orthodox man crazy with desire and impure thoughts.
The best response came from an Irish satirical newspaper Waterford Whispers that released a photo that removed the male leaders. (For the photo, click here).
It is almost as if the Ultra Orthodox did not want to be out crazied by their Muslim counterparts after a Muslim cleric ruled that building Snowmen is a sin and potentially arousing.
Allison Kaplan Sommer of the newspaper Haaretz condemned the act as a national embarrassment “at a time that the Western world is rallying against manifestations of religious extremism, our extremists manage to take the stage.”
Others noted that the newspaper did not just blur the faces but actually removed the female leaders entirely as if the world is led by men alone.
Rama Burshtein, the ultra-Orthodox filmmaker of the critically acclaimed 2012 movie “Fill the Void,” explained “It’s very, very, very, very, very hard for a nonreligious person to understand the purity of eyes.” Yep, though many would call it insanity rather than purity to remove world leaders from historic pictures. He added “By us, men don’t look at women’s photos, period. As long as you don’t know that, then it sounds ridiculous, or changing history or events. But we’re not here to get the events the way they are. We are here to keep the eyes.” Well, most people know that you do not look at women or apparently allow airplanes to take off if there are women in your row. However it still sound ridiculous . . . even if you “keep the eyes.”
I expect that many people in Paris, still reeling from the attack of Muslim extremists, feel a bit like Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets:
Source: NY Times