"…we function in Jerusalem as a haredi media company because the buses pass through haredi neighborhoods, and just as haredi media won't post an ad with a message that calls for opening businesses on Shabbat, and just as other media outlets don't feature women, the same is true of me. In the wake of the petition to the High Court it was decided [by me] that there would be no figures at all, and to our regret that is the situation today."
Egged Public Bus Company CEO: As Far As I’m Concerned, We’re A “Haredi Company” And As Such We Will Continue To Refuse To Post Ads Depicting Women, Girls, Men, Boys, Animals, Extinct Animals, And Cartoon Figures
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Egged bus company and its advertising contractor Cnaan Media have taken their cowardice and appeasement of haredim to a new low.
First it banned all ads depicting women or girls, even if modestly dressed, if if cartoon figures, due to haredi vandalism and violence.
Then Egged and Cnaan banned all ads that depicted any human or animal figure, even cartoons, if babies, even if modestly dressed, even if (in the case of animals) kosher.
Then last week, Egged and Cnaan banned an ad that depicted a cartoon space alien for fear of provoking haredi violence.
Rachel Azaria is a member of the Jerusalem City Council. She also heads the Yerushalmim faction which fights for freedom of (or from) religion and women’s rights in Israel’s capital. She is also an Orthodox Jew.
Azaria has led the battle to return women’s images to advertising billboards and placards in the city, and filed the petition to the High Court of Justice that forced Egged and Cnaan to stop refusing to post ads that depicted women.
But in what was a surprise to Azaria (and apparently to the High Court, as well), Egged and Cnaan chose to ban all depictions of humans rather than bring women’s images back.
In response to Egged’s and Cnaan’s more recent actions, Ha’aretz reports that Azaria sent an ad with a picture of herself. The ad’s text reportedly reads, "This is the last time that they'll put me in the back of the bus."
Canaan refused to run the ad.
Instead, after consulting with Egged’s advertising point person, Azaria sent Cnaan a new version of her proposed ad. Instead of her picture, Azaria had the words, "Here there was supposed to be a picture of Rachel Azaria."
Egged and Cnaan rejected that ad, as well.
"Sending the ad to the Canaan agency is tainted by an extreme absence of good faith. The ad presents mistaken data, because today it is not permitted to post pictures of women and of men (not only of women),” Canaan CEO Ohad Gibli fumed in a letter to Azaria’s Yerushalmim faction, adding that his agency would likely lose money if it ran the ad – presumably because haredim would vandalize the buses as they have so many times before with near impunity, because Israel’s previous governments – especially those headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, refused to enforce the law.
Azaria called Canaan to clarify its policy.
"No figure, not a man, not a woman, not a boy, not a girl, not even an alien," a Cnaan representative allegedly told her.
"Let's say animals, is that possible, a bitch?" Azaria allegedly responded.
"They cause problems with that, don't count on it, better not," Cnaan’s representative allegedly answered.
"Inanimate objects, you're saying, nothing living, [only] inanimate objects?" Azaria allegedly responded.
Gibli, Egged’s CEO, blamed Azaria when pressed by Ha’aretz and contended that Egged – a public bus company – is “haredi.”
"The present situation is one in which we find ourselves due to Azaria's battle. In the first place we function in Jerusalem as a haredi media company because the buses pass through haredi neighborhoods, and just as haredi media won't post an ad with a message that calls for opening businesses on Shabbat, and just as other media outlets don't feature women, the same is true of me. In the wake of the petition to the High Court it was decided that there would be no figures at all, and to our regret that is the situation today,” Gibli said.
Azaria told Ha’aretz that she and Yerushalmim will not give up.
"In the past five years we have succeeded in bringing women back to the public sphere in Jerusalem on billboards, at bus stops, and on bulletin boards. The only place where you still can't post pictures of women is on buses, and that's due to the stubbornness, obtuseness and cowardice of Canaan and Egged. The purpose of the Yerushalmim campaign is to state, loud and clear, that we won't give up even on the last bastion of exclusion of women in the city,” Azaria said.
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