Jerusalem's old-new face? Dozens of Khan Theater ads were destroyed last week along the entrance to Jerusalem and Highway 1. The vandals sprayed the image of an actress presented on the posters with paint, causing damage estimated at thousands of shekels.
The Jerusalem Police arrested two young ultra-Orthodox men spotted defacing the billboards.
The theater's new subscription campaign was launched with ads promoting its 2013-2014 season. They included pictures of actor Ariel Wolf and actress Tamar Alkan, who star in "The Imaginary Invalid."
"It should be stressed that the two actors' clothing is modest and respectable, and does not aim in any way to create a provocation," a source in the theater said Thursday. Yet in recent days, Alkan's image was covered in turquoise and beige paint.
Dozens of ads ruined along entrance to Jerusalem
The Jerusalem District Police chased two young haredi men seen defacing the billboards and arrested them. According to the police, one of the men denied the allegations while the other told his investigators that the pictures offended the haredi public's sentiments.
The two were released under strict conditions by the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, and the police plan to recommend that they be prosecuted.
Danny Weiss, the Khan Theater's executive director, appealed to the Jerusalem Municipality in an urgent request to handle the phenomenon and increase its enforcement.
"The fact that this is the third time in a row that Khan Theater ads are destroyed because of the presence of a woman in them is infuriating," he said. "We call on the Jerusalem Municipality to act firmly against this phenomenon, which causes great damage to the city's image."
He added that beyond the emotionally charged issue of excluding women, there was the practical question of how anyone could even destroy billboards located so high, on a main traffic artery like the entrance to Jerusalem.
"The Khan Theater will continue, as always, to present its actors and actresses in all its publications, including on billboards in Jerusalem."
The theater added in a statement that "this is the third year in a row that the Khan Theater's subscription campaign, which refuses to give in to the demand to avoid posting signs with pictures of a woman in Jerusalem, suffers due to the growing intolerance in the city.
"Last year, posters with the illustrated image of actress Orit Gal were posted across Jerusalem, and the year earlier we included a picture of actress Nili Rogel. Those signs were defaced too, although those female characters had nothing provocative about them."
In a letter to Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Joseph ("Pepe") Alalo, who holds the culture portfolio in the Municipality, the Khan Theater director demanded that the Municipality reprint the ads, stating that "the signs were approved by the Municipality. They feature a bold caption, 'New Season,' with the Khan Theater logo, as well as two images of a man and a woman from 'The Imaginary Invalid.'
"The signs are modest and are not provocative, and so we were amazed to learn that once again, for the third time in a row, the signs posted on the city's Solomon's Pillars at the entrance to the city, near Givat Shaul, were vandalized.
"I urge you to act firmly on this matter in order to demonstrate that the Jerusalem Municipality will not tolerate such cases of exclusion of women. I ask that the Municipality reprint these signs and repost them, as well as increase enforcement so that such incidents will not repeat themselves."
The Jerusalem Municipality said in response that it "condemns any phenomenon of vandalism and destruction of ads carrying women's pictures. The Municipality has already turned to the police following similar cases in a bid to increase enforcement against vandalism."
The statement added, however, that "the ads are private and the Municipality is not responsible for their content."
The Municipality further said, "It should be noted that in the current term there has been a feminine revolution in Jerusalem, and that beyond returning to important key positions in the city's management, women's pictures have appeared in the Municipality's official publications on billboards throughout the term."
Merav Yudilovitch contributed to this report