An indictment was filed Thursday against Jerusalem resident Shlomo Fuchs,
44, an ultra-Orthodox man who hurled sexist slurs at a female soldier on
a public bus in the capital.
Police officials said Fuchs' behavior was unruly, and that he sexually harassed the soldier, Doron Matalon,
by humiliating her and making sexual
The indictment follows a warning issued by Israeli authorities saying they would not tolerate the exclusion of women from the public sphere or any acts of violence towards women. State Prosecutor Moshe Lador stressed that "the prosecution will work with the police to bring this radical phenomenon of haredi extremism to an end."
Jerusalem Magistrate's Court released Fuchs under limiting conditions, forbidding him from using public transportation until the next hearing in his case, set for early January.
According to the court, Fuchs committed a felony given his behavior towards the female soldier. "In light of this growing phenomenon of women's exclusion and offending women who object their exclusion, I believe a dangerous cause exists here, because the aggravation of such a phenomenon endangers a democratic society when done forcibly," the judge wrote.
The female soldier, Doron Matalon (Photo: Atta Awisat)
The court also stated that sexual harassment does not only apply when the harasser demands something of sexual nature from the harassed, but also when the harassed is humiliated based on remarks relating to his or her sex. The judge ruled such was the case in this incident, since "there is no dispute that Fuchs spoke bluntly and shouted harsh and humiliating words at the soldier aboard the bus, calling her a 'slut' three times."
"I am not a sexual offender," Fuchs told his attorney afterwards. "If anything – she harassed me. I wanted to move away and she kept moving closer."
Fuchs' attorney claimed this was not a criminal offense. "We live in a free country. We're allowed to curse, it's part of the freedom of expression," he explained.
Shlomo Fuchs in court on Thursday (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
If the court does decide this is a sexual harassment case, said the attorney, then any man who calls a woman a "bitch" or other curse words would be considered a sexual offender.
Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said Israel's
citizens should not be afraid to file complaints, adding: "It's the most important thing right now. Once complaints are filed an investigation will begin and indictments will follow."
The Jerusalem police on Wednesday arrested Fuchs for calling Doron Matalon, the female soldier, a "slut"
after she refused to sit at the back of an Egged bus travelling from the Neve Yaakov neighborhood to the Central Command base in Jerusalem.
Another female passenger who was approaching the front of the bus in order to pay the driver was told by Fuchs that "a woman shouldn't pass through the front of the bus to pay." He then demanded she return to the back of the bus.
Matalon said, "I wanted to make room for her, but a man sitting nearby said to her: 'Why are you at the front of the bus? You're a woman.' He looked at me and asked: 'You too, why are you here?'" Matalon responded: "Women are not restricted to the back of the bus."
"I told him that just as he doesn't want to see my face, I don't want to see his, and that's when he called me a 'slut, shiksa
(a disrespectful term in Yiddish for a non-Jewish woman).'"
Matalon added that Fuchs yelled: "Slut, slut, slut. You have no respect. You're standing among yeshiva students and it's shameful."
She then recounted that Egged bus company employees would not allow Fuchs to get off the bus until police arrived.
"I told him I was just as Jewish as he is. I alerted the bus employee as yeshiva students were crowding all around me. It's happened to me before, when I was shoved off a bus because I refused to sit in the back."
Fuchs was arrested by the police, and during his interrogation he admitted to calling Matalon a "slut", explaining that the slur was a proper response to "her provocative behavior."