Different organizations slammed the "despicable exclusion," calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to intervene and work to stop it.
In the picture which was published on the website Tuesday, the faces of Ministers Gila Gamliel, Ayelet Shaked and Miri Regev were blurred in accordance with the norms of most haredi media outlets and of the public domain in the haredi sector. Regev's legs, by the way, remained exposed – which caused many on social networks to ridicule the website's modesty norms – but were later blurred as well.
Galia Wolloch, chairwoman of the Na'amat movement, wrote in an appeal to the prime minister that the incident was "a great offense to women and an attempt to exclude them and even make them disappear completely," and that the new female ministers were being treated "as criminals if not worse."
According to Wolloch, the blurring of the women is even more offensive in light of the fact that one of those women is the gender equality minister – a role which aims to eradicate gender discrimination cases.
"This is an outrageous and offensive publication, a serious offense to the Israeli government and the presidency, and a serious offense to all women," Wolloch wrote. "The Israeli government's female ministers are not criminals and should not have to conceal their faces… Excluding them from the public domain and from the eye of the public is simply intolerable."
The Na'amat women turned to Netanyahu as the communications minister as well, asking him to ensure that the website would no longer be able to act in a way which offends, excludes and degrades female ministers and women in general in the State of Israel.
They further noted that "a picture issued by the Government Press office must be published in the exact way it was issued, without changing it and without degrading the photographed people."
Attorney Rabbi Uri Regev, CEO of the Hiddush - For Religious Freedom and Equality association, said in response to the censored picture: "It's sad that the Behadrei Haredim website has reached the 21st century from a technological perspective, but is still in the Middle Ages when it comes to the exclusion of women. No one demanded that the haredi media outlets publish the government picture. They could have omitted it, like some of them did. Censoring the picture is unnecessary vulgarity."
Regev added, "It's unclear why the website, which is so sensitive about the haredi public's image in issues like the attacks on haredi soldiers, couldn’t have demonstrated the proper sensitivity in this case as too. It's unclear why the website's editors think that the haredi representatives in the government can sit with women, cooperate with them and pose for pictures with them – but that the pictures must not be published."
He offered an answer: "State funds 'purify' women."
The censored picture was shared on many social media groups, where it was condemned and criticized.
The Behadrei Haredim website offered the following response: "'Behadrei Haredim' is the biggest haredi website in the world, and we would like to stress the word 'haredi.' As such, it does not publish pictures of women on its homepage, unlike other websites which pretend to be haredi. The haredi press has never and will never feature pictures of women. The basic right of freedom of expression does not stop at the entrance to Bnei Brak."