We have previously discussed attacks by orthodox Jews on women and others in Israel. The demand for segregation of the sexes however has triggered a national debate after accounts of women being asked to sit in the back of buses. There is also an outcry over Orthodox Jews ripping down any advertisements showing women in public areas.
Orthodox Jews represent only 10 percent of the Israeli population but, due to the country’s dysfunctional constitutional system, small political parties exercise exaggerated power over the political system which produces coalition governments. Orthodox rabbis also retain considerable power over defining who is Jewish as well as other aspects of Israeli life (as also here and here). We have also had such conflicts in the United States over the degree to which religious Orthodox communities are accommodated by the government (here and and here and here).
The ultra-orthodox block has been increasingly vocal in its demands for segregation, including a recent incident where religious soldiers walked out of a military event because women were allowed to sing — which is contrary to Jewish law. Even Hilary Clinton found herself erased to satisfy Orthodox readers recently.
Tanya Rosenblit, 28, recounted how one Orthodox Jewish man not only demanded that she move to the back of a bus but stood in front of the bus to prevent it from moving. Notably, the police officer called to the scene asked Rosenbilt “to respect” others and move to the back. She refused and the man declined to ride on the bus. Now, Orthodox leaders are telling supporters that they cannot insist on segregation but they are demanding that the government supply segregated buses for Orthodox riders.
This is the problem of a constitutional system that does not require a separation of Temple and State. It is part of the inherent conflict in Israel which has a large civil liberties and secularist population (here). Such a sectarian line of buses should be a non-starter, but the government routinely enforces religious values, as we have discussed earlier. To its credit the government has come down solidly against such forced segregation, though it has not answered the new demand for separate segregated bus lines.
Part of the problem would be rectified if someone standing in front of a bus like this man was arrested instead of accommodated by a police officer who asks the woman to respect Orthodox beliefs.
Source: Haaretz as first seen on Reddit.
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