Two defaced posters bearing the images of women remain hung in the entrance to Jerusalem on Sunday two weeks after they were vandalized.
Photos of singer Achinoam Nini and musician Ofra Yitzhaki remain in place, with the faces in the photos blackened. The photos were part of an exhibition by photographer Eyal Hirsch, called “Making music out of trauma.”
Hirsch documented war-traumatized male and female soldiers playing music with musicians in order to raise money for people serving in the armes forces who suffer from such trauma. Photos from the exhibition that were hung up at light rail stations in Jerusalem were also vandalized, but the police have not arrested any suspects so far.
Posters with images of women are regularly vandalized in Jerusalem and in other cities that have a large ultra-Orthodox population. An exhibition called “stand firm,” displaying female soccer players at the entrance to Jerusalem, was vandalized three months ago. Following public protests, the municipality replaced the disfigured photos with new ones, which were also defaced.
The women’s lobby and the Israel Music Conservatory, which is part of the initiative for raising money for soldiers suffering from PTSD, have appealed to Mayor Moshe Leon and to the commander of the Jerusalem District police force, Doron Turgeman, asking them to complete the investigation. “These acts undoubtedly constitute criminal acts,” they wrote.
“Non-enforcement only bolsters and encourages the actions of extremists who treat women as a ‘hazard’. From here, the road to segregating half the population from public spaces in practice is short and alarming,” read the statement.
They also claimed that the entrance to the city is monitored by surveillance cameras, which should make it easy for the police to find the perpetrators.
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Following the vandalizing of the “stand firm” exhibition, a debate was held in December by a Knesset committee devoted to improving the status of women. During the debate, a police representative said that over the last three years 21 files had been opened following vandalizing of women’s photos in public areas. He said that all these files had been closed except for one, which had been transferred to the State Prosecutor’s Office.
The police said in response that “any report or complaint that is received is investigated and examined thoroughly and professionally, employing various investigative methods and this was the case with the recent two instances in Jerusalem. We’ll continue to investigate any suspicions of criminal wrongdoing, based on the law and using the tools at our disposal, with the purpose of ascertaining the truth.”
The Jerusalem municipality said that any vandalizing of signs is a matter of grave concern, particularly those with images of women. “We welcome the appeal to the police, calling on them to thoroughly investigate this and find the perpetrators. The city will assist the police in anything required.
"The city has recently held a meeting to discuss these issues and has decided to place surveillance cameras in locations prone to vandalism in order to enhance deterrence and assist in apprehending people who break the law.”