For the second time in less than two weeks, the Prosecution has filed sexual harassment charges in a case involving demeaning behavior by hareidi men toward women whom they believe are behaving immodestly in public. However, video from a security camera may prove that police are guilty of entrapment and fabrication of evidence.
The latest incident took place in the hareidi neighborhood of Meah Shearim in Jerusalem. Plainclothes police pounced upon a man who allegedly spat at a woman for supposedly immodest behavior. The man is Ze'ev Frank, who is described as a member of the extremist Sikrikim group.
Last Thursday, the charge sheet says, a woman whose identity is not known to the police walked down Harav Sonnenfeld Street in Jerusalem when Frank approached her in a threatening manner, called her a slut ("pritzeh") and spat on her. The charge sheet says that the spittle hit the woman (but does not explain how police could determine this if they do not know the woman's identity – ed.).
Two undercover police allegedly leapt out of their unmarked car and informed Frank that he was under arrest. A melee ensued, as numerous onlookers assaulted the police and tried to prevent them from taking Frank away in their car. Frank allegedly also began to resist arrest, kicking and pushing the policemen. The crowd proceeded to "hurl rocks and metal bars" at the policemen and their car. The car's body was damaged, the windshields were smashed, and one policeman was injured in the hand, before the policemen managed to spirit Frank away.
However, security camera video shows that Frank (marked with a red circle in the Channel 2 report) did not even stop when he passed the woman (marked with blue circle) and does not show him resisting arrest in any way. It also is not clear how police who were inside the car could have heard what he told the woman.
The case indicates that the Prosecution has decided to use the 1998 Sexual Harassment Law to prosecute male hareidim who verbally assault, spit at and otherwise intimidate women who they see as breaking the rules of modesty in hareidi neighborhoods and "mehadrin" buses that serve the hareidi community.
The Prosecution and police have changed their policy regarding these incidents following a deluge of press reports on the phenomenon referred to as "women's exclusion." The campaign is generated by groups supported by the New Israel Fund, which use the term in a generalizing manner that can refer to cases of extremist misbehavior, but also to separation between sexes which is practiced by all streams of Orthodox Judaism in various spheres of life and religious ceremonies.
The previous similar case involved a man who insulted a female soldier who got on a bus line that serves hareidim but refused to move to the women's section.
While hareidi women have also been known to react negatively when men sit in the women's sections of buses, the current public campaign regarding "women's exclusion" is does not target them.
While the term "sexual harassment" usually refers to overtures made toward another person who has shown that he or she is not interested in them, it also defines harassment as "a demeaning or humiliating remark made toward a person because of his sex or sexuality."