Women journalists have expressed outrage over the “special treatment” they received during Vice President Mike Pence’s Israel visit. One journalist was subjected to a humiliating strip search and all were forced to stand behind male journalists during Pence’s visit to the Western Wall, one of Judaism’s holiest sites.
A visiting journalist from Finland’s state television, who happened to be of Palestinian descent, was barred from covering Pence’s visit with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday after she refused to remove her bra during a strip search by Netanyahu’s security detail. During Pence’s visit to the Western Wall, where praying areas are segregated by gender in accordance with the rules dictated by the infamously ultra-Orthodox Jewish Western Wall Heritage Foundation, women journalists were forced to cover the event from across a barrier. To make matters worse, the viewing platforms were set up so that the male journalists were directly in front of the women — preventing many women journalists from being able to see anything besides the cameras and microphones of their male colleagues.
The foundation has claimed that the setup was the same as “during President Trump’s visit to the Western Wall in May 2017,” but many women journalists disagreed vehemently, and sent out tweets using the #PenceFence to criticize the unequal treatment. Acclaimed Israeli journalist Tal Schneider tweeted that the women journalists were “stuck in isolation and cannot photograph, work,” adding that she felt they were being treated as “second-class citizens.” i24News reporter Ariane Ménage shared a picture of the media setup at the wall, in which virtually nothing beyond the male journalists in front of her can be seen.
When it's a bit hard to do your job / women journalists forced to stand behind the men at the separation fence at the western wall for Mike Pence's visit #PenceInIsrael #PenceFence pic.twitter.com/IsXbJ0jTi5
— Ariane Ménage (@ariane_menage) January 23, 2018
In recent years, groups such as Women of the Wall have pushed to give women the right to read aloud from the Torah, wear prayer shawls, and sing at the wall — acts for which women can, and have been, arrested. In 2016, Netanyahu’s government said they would allow for an egalitarian mixed-gender prayer space at the Western Wall, only to renege on the promise following pressure from ultra-Orthodox members of his government.
Read the full story at The Washington Post.