Five times since the photos of Parnass were posted in April, vandals — widely believed to be ultra-Orthodox extremists — spray-painted over her eyes and mouth.
The joyful glint in Peggy Parnass’ eyes is so sharp it can be seen from the walls of Jerusalem’s bustling Old City. Posted across the street at the gateway to City Hall, twin images of the Holocaust survivor and activist gaze out at the ancient warren of holy monuments of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, the Associated Press reports.
But just outside this center of spirituality, someone saw her image as a problem. Five times since the photos of Parnass were posted as part of an exhibition that began in April, vandals — widely believed to be ultra-Orthodox extremists — spray-painted over her eyes and mouth.
The graffiti was cleaned each time, leaving Parnass smiling again. For many Israelis, however, the short-term fix highlighted a familiar pattern that’s all the more painful because the destruction is coming not from enemies across Israel’s borders but from within.
“It’s not anti-Semitic,” said Jim Hollander, the curator of The Lonka Project art installation at Safra Square. “This is anti-feminist.”
For all of its modernity, military firepower and high-tech know-how, Israel has for decades been unable to keep images of women from being defaced in some public spaces. Billboards showing women — including soccer players, musicians and young girls — have been repeatedly defaced and torn down by religious extremists in Jerusalem and other cities with large ultra-Orthodox populations over the past 20 years.
Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel was erased from a 2015 photograph of world leaders in Paris published by an ultra-Orthodox newspaper.
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