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Controversy over dance studio's curtains illustrates battle for soul of Israeli society

Oded Balilty / AP

People outside a dance studio watch dancers perform with the curtains open for the first time in three years in Jerusalem, Israel, on Nov. 21.

The Kolben Dance Group opened the curtains at its Jerusalem dance studio last Monday, allowing passers-by to see through the building's large picture windows as its dancers engaged in rehearsals for upcoming performances.

The move would seem uncontroversial, but the dance studio's curtains have become a symbolic front in what the Associated Press today described as a battle for the soul of Israeli society.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz said that the curtains had been kept closed for several years, reportedly under pressure from the local municipality and members of the ultra-Orthodox community who had also threatened the company's members. The sight of the dancers might inflame the passions of men, some believed.

Oded Balilty / AP

People are reflected in a window as they watch dancers perform in a dance studio in Jerusalem on Nov. 21.

Read more in the AP's report on the wider cultural and political conflict which pits radicalized religious activists and conservative lawmakers against secular, liberal Israelis.

Previously on PhotoBlog: Gender segregation on the rise in Israel