Haredim stand near an Egged bus
Ad agency Canaan Media will include women in an upcoming ad campaign on Egged buses. Photo by Emil Salman
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Eliyahu Hershkovitz
Orthodox woman climbing abaord an Egged bus line to Jerusalem. Photo by Eliyahu Hershkovitz

The women are coming back into the public sphere in Jerusalem. After several years in which the Canaan Media advertising agency, the concessionaire with rights to place ads on Egged buses, refused to place ads featuring women on buses running in the nation's capital. Now the company will launch an awareness campaign paid for the local NGO Yerushalmim with ads featuring photos of the women.

Over the years, Canaan caved into pressure from Haredi groups in the city by refusing to post ads depicting women. The company explained that it came to that decision after repeated vandalism by extremist groups in the city that damaged buses and caused serious economic losses to Canaan Media and its advertising clients.

Eight months ago, the NGO Yerushalmim petitioned Israel's High Court to force Canaan to run ads containing photos of women in its bus advertisements. In the government's official position submitted to the High Court in June, the government stated its belief that the company should be obligated to advertise women's photos despite the financial damage it might incur as a result. Canaan responded by stating that it would study the government's response. However even before the High Court has issued its ruling on the matter, the company has announced that it will promote a new ad campaign on municipal buses featuring women.

"In light of the government's position, we have accepted the request to run the present ad campaign in the hope that the acts of vandalism that occurred in the past and caused serious financial damage to the company will not reoccur," said Canaan CEO Ohad Gibli. "Canaan is a company that respects the feelings of all groups within society – secular as well as religious, and we hope that the public in Jerusalem will display tolerance and sensitivity towards each other."

The Yerushalmim NGO welcomed Canaan's decision.

"This is an important day for all those concerned about Jerusalem about the future of the State of Israel as a place where equality between men and women is viewed as an irrevocable value," said Yerushalmim CEO Rabbi Uri Ayalon.

Ayalon added that the movement negotiated with Canaan over the past three weeks. "We expect to see all photos that were sent to Canaan [on the advertisements]," Ayalon said.