The notices read: “Women should please walk along this side of the road only,” in English and Hebrew.
Turns out that the people who put up the posters are part of a Jewish group that wants to avoid gender cooties during a religious parade.
Explained a member of a Jewish advocacy organization:
“Traditionally at these Torah Parades in the Orthodox Jewish community which is usually attended by a large number of people, men and women are in separate groups, as people dance and make physical contact with fellow dancers, which is avoided between the opposite gender in Orthodox Judaism.”
However, except for a small logo in Hebrew, nothing on the signs indicated that the request applied to the parade only, and non-Jewish residents argued that the request was still troubling even with that limited scope.
The local council also took the latter view and promptly had the signs removed.
Stamford Hill has long been the scene of of tensions between Jews and goyim. In 2010, Christina Patterson, a columnist for the liberal-skewing Independent, let loose with her frustrations as a resident of the area, describing a spate of rude behavior that she said she’d been forced to put up with for years.
“I didn’t realize that a purchase by a goy was a crime to be punished with monosyllabic terseness, or that bus seats were a potential source of contamination, or that road signs, and parking restrictions, were for people who hadn’t been chosen by God. And while none of this is a source of anything much more than irritation, when I see an eight-year-old boy recoiling from a normal-looking woman (because, presumably, he has been taught that she is dirty or dangerous, or, heaven forbid, dripping with menstrual blood) it makes me sad.”
Damian Thompson, a local Catholic blogger, was on the same page:
Jewish hostility towards Christians isn’t confined to the ultra-Orthodox… I could tell stories of unbelievable haughtiness by leaders of Anglo-Jewry, which would have led to diplomatic incidents if the Christians involved weren’t afraid of being accused of anti-Semitism. I suppose I’m afraid of that, too.
Patterson, for her part, concluded that “goyim [are] about as welcome in the Hasidic Jewish shops as Martin Luther King at a Klu Klux Klan [sic] convention.”
The posters by God’s Chosen People probably did little to repair the relations between the groups.
***Update*** [by Hemant]: The Freethinker quotes one councillor’s crystal-clear response:
Rosemary Sales, a councillor for Stamford Hill West, described the posters as “unacceptable” and said they had been taken down.
“Several residents in my ward in Stamford Hill have drawn these posters to my attention. It is of course quite unacceptable to try to restrict women’s movements in a public place and council officers removed these posters as soon as it was reported to them.”