An impressive array of world leaders came together for the unity march in Paris on Sunday, paying tribute to those who had died in the previous week's violence. One Orthodox Jewish newspaper, however, decided that the inspiring image of presidents and prime ministers arm-in-arm could use a little tweaking. The editors of HaMevaser used Photoshop to remove all of the visible women from the scene in their version of the image.
Mediaite's Tina Nguyen points out that the newspaper went to great lengths to erase nonmale leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and ended up with an amateurish mess. The remains of a blue scarf worn by the inconveniently female mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, wound up blurred on the front of the clothes of a man who was standing next to her. The subtraction of President Simonetta Sommaruga of Switzerland also left a ghoulish image floating over the crowd on the right.
Women have long been scrubbed from the news by Orthodox Jewish publications in order to confirm with rules governing "modesty," which they say bar them from publishing women's images or, in some cases, their names. Images are altered even when that means ignoring events that involve heads of state and other powerful political figures. Di Tzeitung made headlines in 2011 by removing Hillary Clinton from a photo taken in the White House Situation Room during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
In reponse to the Clinton controversy, Di Tzeitung's editors released a statement claiming that the change was necessary to maintain "modesty" and should in no way be construed as dismissing or degrading the contributions of female leaders whose existance it would prefer not to acknowledge.
The allegations that religious Jews denigrate women or do not respect women in public office, is a malicious slander and libel. The current Secretary of State, the Honorable Hillary R. Clinton, was a Senator representing New York State with great distinction 8 years. She won overwhelming majorities in the Orthodox Jewish communities in her initial campaign in '00, and when she was re-elected in '06, because the religious community appreciated her unique capabilities and compassion to all communities. The Jewish religion does not allow for discrimination based on gender, race, etc. [...]
In accord with our religious beliefs, we do not publish photos of women, which in no way relegates them to a lower status. Publishing a newspaper is a big responsibility, and our policies are guided by a Rabbinical Board. Because of laws of modesty, we are not allowed to publish pictures of women, and we regret if this gives an impression of disparaging to women, which is certainly never our intention. We apologize if this was seen as offensive.
The female leaders who traveled to Paris to show solidarity with France in its time of mourning walked down the same street as their male colleagues (albeit a well-guarded street far from the larger rally) and should be recognized for their contributions to the healing process for the French people. To some Hasidic publications, however, it's as if they don't exist.