An ultra-Orthodox Jewish newspaper in Israel has prompted outrage for blurring the faces of young girls, but not young boys, pictured in its advertisements, Ynet News reported.
The newspaper, Hadash BeBeit Shemeh, is a Haredi Orthodox publication: Haredi Jews were recently accused of attacking an Israeli news crew and of spitting on an 8-year-old girl on her way to school and calling her a "whore" for dressing "immodestly."
The ads in question were for the Red Pirate toy store chain to promote its children's costumes for the upcoming Jewish holiday of Purim. According to Ynet, the first person to protest the advertisements was Hadassa Margolese, the mother of the girl targeted on her way to school.
Margolese posted pictures of the censored ads to Red Pirate's Facebook page and wrote, "Although I like your store here in [the Haredi neighborhood] Beit Shemesh, I will not shop in a place which agrees to blur little girls' faces in advertisements. I find it shocking."
She explained more of her decision to protest to the Jewish Daily Forward: "The store and the company needed to be told that we don’t believe in blurring female faces and anyone who wants to put their advertisements in our mailboxes in our neighborhood with blurred faces would lose our business.”
According to Ynet, others quickly joined Margolese on Facebook, writing their own messages on the company's page, including: "How disgusting…Do you also spit on little girls? That's the fashion now in Beit Shemesh" and "I am a woman with a face. Now I'll know not to buy from your store!"
Following the outcry, Red Pirate issued a statement clarifying that it did not make the call to blur the girls' faces, and that it was not consulted on the decision.
According to the statement, it was the newspaper's kashrut -- or Jewish law -- supervisor who made the decision to blur the ad, and it happened shortly before the issue went to print. The chain vowed it would "prepare accordingly" the next time it runs an ad in a Haredi area and "put an end to this phenomenon."
“On behalf of the Red Pirate chain and the Beit Shemesh store, we apologize for the offense and discomfort cause by our advertisements in the local papers of Ramat Beit Shemesh. Unfortunately, their publication was not under our control," the statement said.
But Hadash BeBeit Shemeh is standing by its decision to blur the faces, claiming in its own statement that it was "not a case of women's exclusion or girls' exclusion."
"The ads were blurred by the advertising company, at our request, out of respect to our readers – both men and women – who want to receive a paper which matches their worldview and lifestyle," the newspaper said. "The attempts made by people who are not part of the Haredi public to meddle in the desires of a different public are pathetic and doomed to fail, as Haredi readers will not bring an unclean newspaper into their home."