Meretz Apologizes for Campaign Ad Featuring Little Girl Harassed by ultra-Orthodox Man

9-year-old Na'ama Margolese last year became the symbol of the struggle against angry Haredi opposition to a religious girls school in Beit Shemesh; mother Hadassah tells Haaretz: I hope no one else uses Naama's picture for their political agenda.

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Meretz party leader Zahava Gal-On has apologized to a Beit Shemesh mother for using a picture of her daughter, who was harassed by an ultra-Orthodox man, in its televised campaign ad last week.

Hadassah Margolese's 9-year-old daughter Na’ama last year became the symbol of the struggle against angry Haredi opposition to Orot Banot, a national religious girls’ school bordering on their ultra-Orthodox neighborhood. The little girl turned into a household name after Channel 2 broadcasted a segment in which she described being spat on and accosted by ultra-Orthodox men over what they deemed to be her indecent apparel.

Hadassah Margolese told Ha’aretz that Meretz was very gracious in receiving her complaint. “Gal-On said that they just wanted to make a point that this is unacceptable behavior, they in no way meant to upset us, and as soon as they heard that we did not want her picture up, they took it down.”

In the phone call, Margolese said that she explained to Gal-On that she was upset about the use of the photograph because: “Na’ama is very sensitive. She’s a child and as far as she’s concerned, her story is over with.” She said she was pleased that Meretz took action promptly. “I appreciate the call, and that they responded and took Na'ama's picture off quickly. End of story as far as I'm concerned.”

During Meretz's televised campaign ad, a newspaper headline and photograph of Na’ama appear briefly on the screen. Margolese sent a letter of complaint to Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, head of the Central Elections Committee, requesting that her daughter’s image be removed, saying that she didn’t want her daughter’s image used to endorse any political party, even ones that she herself supports.

Margolese pointed out that she had even refused a request from the list she personally endorses, Likud-Beiteinu, to participate in their campaign activities.

“I hope that no one else thinks of using Na'ama's picture for their political agenda, including the party that I support," Margolese said.

Na'ama Margolese and her mother Hadassah in Beit Shemesh.Credit: Michal Fattal

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