In apparent reaction to recent outbursts by Chareidim in Israel protesting incidents where women were allegedly dressed publicly in immodest fashion, the United States State Department has warned American tourists to refrain from visiting ultra-Orthodox areas of the country unless they are wearing modest clothing, so as to prevent possible assaults. The State Department did not go into specifics regarding which neighborhoods are considered problematic or what exactly constitutes “modest” attire.
In its recently published travel recommendations for tourists to Israel, the State Department wrote – in a paragraph about visiting Jerusalem – “travelers should… dress appropriately when visiting the Old City and ultra-orthodox Jewish neighborhoods. Assaults on secular visitors for being ‘immodestly dressed’ have occurred in these neighborhoods.” The recommendations further advise American tourists to dress appropriately when visiting religious sites in the Old City, and to avoid driving through Chareidi neighborhoods during the Sabbath. “Most roads into ultra-orthodox Jewish neighborhoods are blocked off on Friday nights, Saturdays, and Jewish holidays,” notes the travel advisory, which was added to the State Department’s website for travel to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
The travel recommendation comes in the aftermath of statements made by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton two months ago at the Saban Conference, when she expressed concern about certain bus lines in Jerusalem requiring that women sit in separate seating areas. “It’s reminiscent of Rosa Parks,” Clinton said, referring to the black American woman who famously refused to surrender her seat to a white passenger in the 1950’s, thereby greatly sparking the civil rights movement. Clinton also commented at the time on the phenomenon of religious soldiers walking out of military ceremonies where women were singing, saying that it sounded like behavior in Iran.