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PR Firm Hiring Anti-Hareidi Provocateurs?

Woman claims she was offered money in order to provoke hareidim on buses and on the streets, with hidden cameras taping.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 8/8/2013, 4:47 PM

Hareidi Jews in Mea Shearim
Hareidi Jews in Mea Shearim
Israel news photo: Flash 90

An Arab Israeli woman, Annette Haskiya, says she was offered money to create provocative scenes that would paint hareidim as biased against women, which would be recorded on hidden cameras.

Haskiya, an independent-minded Muslim woman who gained some fame recently by speaking in favor of Arab enlistment to the IDF, reported the matter on her Facebook page last week.

Haskiya told her friends that she had received a telephone call from a PR and media firm, which went like this:

"Hello, Annette?”

"Yes.”

"I have an offer for you and I am sure you will not refuse, if you are smart and the matter of women's exclusion is important to you.”

"Of course I care about it.”

"I am from the PR and media office of […]. We would like to invite you to a meeting and of course, we will pay you accordingly.”

She asked the person for more details and he was evasive, insisting that everything would be clarified at the meeting.

“I was persistent," wrote Haskiya, "and I understood that they are looking for tough and courageous women for an anti-hareidi project. To provoke them on buses and on streets throughout Israel with a hidden camera!”

At this point, Haskiya recalled, she began berating the speaker, saying: "Shame on you, they are Jews like you... Why this mean spirit?... You are trying to entrap innocent people!”

The man hung up, she recounted.

"I am not religious, but I respect all people,” she told the Dossim website, which contacted her following the Facebook post. “I know that hareidim are forbidden from sitting next to a woman or standing close to her on the street, so why should I go and bother them in the matters that are forbidden to them?... How can you talk about peace when people fight each other in such a dirty way?”

Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Haskiya said that she did not want to publicize the original email message that she received from the firm, before the telephone call, until the campaign materializes, but that she will not hesitate to use it to fight the campaign and expose its origins.

"The day this [provocation - ed.] happens, I will publicize it," she said.

Haskiya also told Arutz Sheva that she had no idea the story would provoke so much interest when she posted it on her Facebook page. Since doing so, she claims to have received at least a dozen calls from the media.

The campaign against "women's exclusion" portrays the religious lifestyle, which believes in some degree of public separation between men and women and sees their roles as distinct and complementary ones, in a negative fashion. It seeks to "prove" that the secular lifestyle is more just and moral, and that religion is immoral because it oppresses women through concepts of modesty and family structure.

At the height of the public campaign against "women's exclusion" in late 2011, there were two instances in which secular women boarded "mehadrin" bus lines that cater specifically to the hareidi public, became involved in a confrontation with hareidi men, and involved the media and police. 

In the second case, police actually stopped the bus and arrested a man who supposedly shouted an epithet at the woman involved, and a charge sheet was filed against him the very next day, in an unprecedented show of police efficiency. He was accused of "sexual harassment" for allegedly calling the woman "a slut" in Yiddish.

The way the media and law enforcement systems treated the incidents caused many people to suspect that they had been pre-planned, but Haskiya's post may be the first solid evidence that this is indeed the way some of these events are "born."