President Shimon Peres
President Shimon PeresIsrael news photo: Flash 90

President Shimon Peres called on Thursday to distinguish between the extreme hareidi-religious Jews who exclude women and those who hareidim who do not do so.

Peres made the comments during a visit to the home of Tel Aviv’s Chief Rabbi, Rav Yisrael Meir Lau, who is sitting shiva following the death of his brother, Rabbi Yehoshua Hager-Lau, who passed away last week in Jerusalem.

“We have to condemn those responsible for excluding women, but for the sake of justice we must at the same time also distinguish between those who are guilty and those who are not,” Peres said.

“Whoever is at fault should be convicted, but we should not generalize to include those who are not guilty,” he added. “It is insulting and offensive to generalize an entire population.”

Rabbi Lau responded to the president by assuring him that the individuals who exclude women “are not individuals who are following the advice of any rabbi. Whoever spits in the face of a seven-year-old girl is not obeying the orders of a rabbi.”