Shame on them

December 29, 2011

If anything positive can be drawn from the disgraceful events in Bet Shemesh in recent weeks, it is that the increasingly appalling behaviour of the city's strictly Orthodox residents has rallied almost all of Israel in opposition.

From President Peres down, Israelis have made clear their anger.

Israel is indeed a light unto the nations, and it remains one of the main tasks of the diaspora in 2012 to correct the distortions and lies told by Israel's enemies. But that becomes more difficult when images travel around the world which appear to contradict the idea of Israel as a modern and free society.

Worse, this deeply worrying trend within a significant part of Israeli society is becoming the norm in some areas – not least, of course, parts of Jerusalem. Israel is not, can not, must not and surely will not ever be a nation where discrimination has any place – whether between religions, between sects within Judaism or between sexes. The behaviour of the strictly Orthodox in Bet Shemesh has no place in any modern society, let alone in Israel.

Their actions shame them. But they also shame Israel, which needs to deal with this assault on the very essence of the Jewish state.

Last updated: 11:26am, December 29 2011