Israeli president Shimon Peres urged Israelis Tuesday to join the rally against ultra-Orthodox Jews imposing codes of conduct on women and girls in Beit Shemesh. "We are fighting for the soul of the nation and the essence of the state," Peres said during remarks to reporters at his official residence.
Peres continued, "We saw yesterday how the officers fight for basic equality in Beit Shemesh on behalf of the entire country. If they value women so much, let them move to the other sidewalk. No one has the right to raise a had or threaten any girl or woman. We are all citizens."
"Today is a test in which the entire nation will have to mobilize to rescue the majority from the claws of a small minority that is chipping away at our most hallowed values," Peres said.
"No person has the right to threaten a girl, a woman or any person in any way," he said. "They are not the lords of this land."
Secular and religious Jews have clashed over segregation on public buses. Most recently, an 8-year-old girl has become the face of the conflict, as she confessed during a television special this weekend that she was afraid to walk to school because of the religious Jews that would spit on her along the way.
More than 10,000 are expected to attend tonight’s rally, organized by pro-democracy and equality activists. The rally begins at 6 p.m. near the Orot girl's school.