Israeli minister warns religious-secular tensions could tear apart country’s society

The deepening tensions between ultra-Orthodox extremists and more moderate Jews that are roiling Israel “will tear Israeli society apart” unless cooler heads prevail, the nation’s minister of religious affairs told Reuters on Wednesday.

His comments follow growing alarm over clashes between extremist sects within Israel’s small but growing ultra-Orthodox community, and more moderate and secular Jews in the country.

The minister, Yaacov Margy, decried to Reuters an incident last month in which ultra-Orthodox men harassed and spat on 8-year-old girl Naama Margolese, who attends a religious girls’ school in Beit Shemesh, a city that has been a flashpoint in the tensions.

The men claimed she was dressed immodestly — her attire did not meet their specifications of propriety –  and called her a whore. The ultra-Orthodox protesters see the school as an intrusion on their traditional neighborhood.


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