"Why is the bank cooperating with extreme haredi elements that push women out of the public space in the name of modesty?" Kenan asked in his Room 404 blog.
"The bank said in response that 'Bank Hapoalim respects all its customers, regardless of their religion, race and gender and uses professional judgment only when it comes to advertising.' This is for the information of the free men and women whose money supports this bank."
Approached by Ynet, the bank offered the exact same comment. The pictures presented here are of ads posted on Bnei Brak's Kahanman Street, near the Givat Shmuel bridge. Similar ads were spotted in mixed areas in Jerusalem.
A Givat Shmuel female resident told Ynet, "I'm religious, not haredi, and I'm very annoyed by this. But I do know that these ads were posted in order to appease the haredi public opinion, not in order to hurt my feelings."
Hapoalim ad in Bnei Brak (Photo: Dana Kopel)
Bank respects all its customers? (Photo: Dana Kopel)
According to the blog, other famous women – including Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni and Knesset Member Shelly Yacimovich – have been removed in the past from ads presented in haredi areas.
It's a known fact that companies cover exposed body parts in ads presented in haredi areas, but the phenomenon of "deleting" women is relatively new. Ultra-Orthodox newspapers even avoid mentioning the first names of senior female politicians.
Haredi public unfamiliar with actress
Ari Galahar, a journalist who writes for Ynet about haredi advertising, explains. "I ran into this billboard in Jerusalem, in a mixed area. They removed Alma Zack from the sign because it's unconventional to show images of women on the haredi media.
"There are still newspapers that publish pictures of women, but only under the age of three. Yated Ne'eman issued a special supplement for women for Passover, which did not include even one picture of a woman.
"And there's another reason: The haredi public is unfamiliar with Alma Zack. Only few people know her, she means nothing to them and they can't identify with her character."
So they don't know Erez Tal (the man appearing in the ad) either.
"Yes, but they won't change the entire concept of an ad presented in mixed communities. Because of the haredi sector's sensitivity, they'll remove the woman."
Do women cause such a provocation?
"I wouldn't say so. In principle, there's a desire to avoid sexual issues in street ads as much as possible.
"The stricter people won't even look at women on the street. They'll move their eyes to the other side and lower their gaze when talking to a woman. Not because they don't respect woman, on the contrary, 'The Honor of the King's Daughter is Within.' Because of modesty."
"A billboard is the opposite of 'The Honor of the King's Daughter is Within'. It turns a woman into an icon, a symbol. And in the haredi society it's uncustomary to see a woman, to turn her into a character, into a product's presenter.
"Haredi women can serve in senior roles, as CEOs, but it's true that if a woman wants to be a public figure in the haredi sector, it'll be much harder for her."
Is there a desire to hide women?
"There's no goal to erase women and ignore their existence. It's a certain lifestyle, which some want to act according to. And even in the haredi society – those who don’t want to don't act accordingly."
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