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Anti-Women Protests Come to a Head

Netanyahu condemns spitting, but his coalition could be threatened

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Beit Shemesh on Sunday. The sign asks women to cross the street.(Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

Several ugly acts against women are forcing a useful conversation in Israel over the increased, outsize influence of a few extreme, intolerant ultra-Orthodox residents and leaders. Saturday night, in Beit Shemesh, an ultra-Orthodox man reportedly spat on a 9-year-old girl on her way home from a school that some want moved (the girl is not religious enough by their standards, and not dressed modestly enough; she and her parents are from the States, as it happens). Last week saw a bona fide Rosa Parks moment as one woman refused to sit in the back of an ostensibly gender-segregated bus. (This came after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mentioned Ms. Parks in the context of Israeli women.) Amir Mizroch notices a video of Haredi men screaming at mothers escorting their daughters to that same religious school, which the men don’t want there.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has decried the “religious extremists.” Right-wing minister Uzi Landau added, “Haredi extremists should be dealt with like leftist anarchists and right-wing settler youth—decisively.” Presumably, however, they should not be treated the way Palestinian protesters are. Hopes that religious settlers who have vandalized mosques and even attacked an IDF base in the West Bank would face similar consequences to Palestinians who break laws protesting the occupation appear to be dashed now that the IDF has argued against trying the settlers in military courts (admittedly, the IDF is more concerned with dividing the army, which has a large religious-settler contingent).

Opposing this misogynist horribleness would seem like the easy move on Bibi’s part, but it’s actually not, and he’s likely going to pay a price for it: Arutz Sheva—a settler news outfit—reports that the United Torah Judaism party is considering parting with Netanyahu over his “bashing the Haredim.” The fact that it costs Bibi to condemn the obviously condemnable means that he does deserve credit for it. It also means, however, that if it continues, Netanyahu could feel that his coalition is threatened and he is forced to take a softer stance. That could become vomit-worthy very fast. Less nausea-inducing? Tonight’s protest, endorsed by President Peres and expected to draw thousands, against this noxious bigotry.

Here is the news segment that has helped stoke the righteous outcry.

Israel’s ‘Rosa Parks’ Refuses to Take Back Seat [CNN]
What Would You Do to Solve This? [Forecast Highs]
Netanyahu: Israel Is a Democracy and Won’t Tolerate Discrimination [Haaretz]
End of Haredi Partnership With Right Wing? [Arutz Sheva]
Jewish Violence Leads to Legal Equality

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Oy, Marc, seriously, there are so many English speaking Anglo writers here in Israel, there’s no budget at Tablet for even one honest-to-God Israeli to write, I don’t know, about Israel?

And Israeli girl was not spat at on Saturday night on her way home from school, because we don’t have school on Saturdays (otherwise known as “Shabbat”) and we don’t have school at night (elementary school ends at 12:45 pm daily). She was spat at numerous times since the start of the school year by lunatic charedim who stand outside her school and insist that they have no right to be there, even though the city and state allocated the land where their school sits to them and only them.

If you read the Jpost article correctly, it said there was a report on Israeli TV on FRIDAY night about the situation in Beit Shemesh. Nothing happened Saturday night, except possibly some overindulgence in sufganiot.

What I find interesting about this whole story is the role of the media; None of these anti-woman activities are new and they represent an extremely small number of occurrences which of course must be condemned. This has been a slow period in the news cycle so the local press in Israel picked up on it and is actively fanning the flames. Now I see that international media outlets are also featuring it, so that the BBC, which has nothing to say about the fact that around 1000 African refugees have been murdered by Bedouins in Sinai, while trying to escape into Israel, has a prominent story about it on its web page.

Carl, I don’t think it’s an accident that these issues are coming up now. I think this is leftover energy after the summer protests. Once the economic issues got squared away, it was time to address the glaring way chareidim are taking over the public square. And make no mistake, this is not “an extremely small number of occurances”. For years now, women have been completely absent from advertising in Jerusalem. At first I thought it was funny, then, I realized it’s not so funny. When the charedi anti-women agenda gets to decide what is and isn’t permitted in the public square, which has been happening more and more over the last 5 years, that’s a huge problem for everyone.

There aren’t an “extremely small number” of mehadrin busses. There are a number of lines in Jersualem, Bnei Brak, Ashdod and numerous other charedi enclaves. And, just to remind readers, these are public busses. If the charedim want to start their own private bus system that puts women in the back, that’s their own business.

Carl, where’s your source about all of those murdered Africans in Sinai? I clearly notice you haven’t one. And am I surprised? In a word no.

There must be an international media conspiracy Carl that can be the only explanation.

esthermiriam says:

Along with Haaretz, best place to follow this story (ongoing for longwhile, and in various forms) is on Sisterhood Blog at

Jules–Don’t take my word for it. Last month CNN ran a long story about it in their ant-slavery series.

Outrageous and disgusting. Why doesn’t the father walk her to school? I know how I’d handle it.
Why do they tolerate such anarchy?

Bernie Pearl says:

A few backward ultra-orthodox? It looks like a lot, but one is more than enough. Ugh! Feh! Phooey! Ptui!

My point is that this behavior is of course disgusting and should be eliminated. However, stories in which people are actually killed are ignored while stories that involve a relatively small amount of people being inconvenienced and/or humiliated receive screaming headlines. I’d also like to point out that the treatment of women in the Arab sector in Israel by Arab men is terrible and I can guarantee you that you’ll never see a story about this either in the Israeli press or the international press.

Robert Smith says:

And we wonder about Muslim extremism it seems that we have our own religious nuts to worry about. If these two groups have their way we will all be living 2000 years in the past. How can we as Jews who have faced intolerable cruelty because of our faith, allow this type of religious bigotry to take place among our own peple.

Mildred Bilt says:

Why is it that the Israelis point to the Arabs and their behavior when trying to say bad Israeli behavior is OK because it’s not as bad as the Arabs? Are the Arab customs the ideal for the Israelis and the Israelis have to become like the Arabs? (That is, like the nastiest Araba). So why fight the Arabs? The charedi and the Arabs can all live happily together doing and thinking exactly the same. See-problem solved.

Sure it’s just a few harsh forbidding intolerant radical orthodox zealot bad apples, we shouldn’t even bring this topic up.

What I’m pointing out is the bias of the press. Israel certainly needs to correct the situation but the press (because of its anti-israel bias) jumps all over stories like these while ignoring much more serious situations in neighboring countries.

Anti-Israel bias my ass. You seriously need to get your shit wired straight Carl before you become the biggest bumbling idiot simpleton on the block. Grow up. Maturity isn’t such a major leap, look into it.

Wow Jules you opened my eyes. Thanks for the great advice.

Hershl says:

Tracy, when will your remedial writing lessons start to kick in?

You are establishing new heights of illiteracy.

Hershl says:

The best aggregation of coverage on this issue that I have found and have been following for months ( this is not a recent issue) is on the failedmessiah site:

Bill Pearlman says:

The draft exemption for the haredi needs to be ended forthwith. If these guys were in the army they wouldn’t have the energy for this bullshit.

Carl, it doesn’t matter whether it is a slow news cycle or not, or whether the Arab actions against their own women are worse.

At issue here, is that a group of Jews is acting like a street gang. They are attacking young children and threatening to riot if the local government takes down segregationist signs.

Sorry, but that’s news to me. The behaviour by these Haredi Jews is disgusting, period.

The media here should be commended, not condemned for exposing such hatred and violence. This is not a moment for ‘sha – shtill!’ It is a moment to stand up and say that such behaviour and the extreme philosophy behind it is unacceptable and should be condemned wholeheartedly by the wider Jewish community.

I wouldn’t accept such bullying behavior from other kids against my children, why should this be acceptable behaviour for a group of adults? Because they are Frum? Because they are Yeshiva Bochur? Because they are Chassids?

NO! We wouldn’t accept such actions from anyone else, and we shouldn’t accept it if it is being done by Jews. Plain and simple.

Carl — took about 15 seconds to find some in-depth coverage of the Sinai issue on BBC:

That the coverage didn’t happen to occur when you wanted it to happen doesn’t show bias.

Shlomo says:

What do these spitters do for a living? How do they survive financially ? Is the State paying these peoples rents ? All you need to do is stop this charity, and these leaches will disappear. I think in the next Knesset the numbers will be different and hopefully the money flowing to these clowns will stop.
The State is undermining itself by paying these peoples ways. Clearly.
But this story is great, it is the beginning of the end for the fanatics.
Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

jacob arnon says:

Oh yea, Jules women have it a lot better in Iran.

How many women PM’s did Itran have? How many judges?

Give you Jew hatred a break and spare us your nonsensensical biases.

jacob arnon says:

The most egregious apartheid States in the world today are Muslim countries from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia, from Iran to Iraq.

And watch what happens in Egypr after Jules confreres the Muslim Brotherhood take over.

jacob arnon says:

If you are not a Muslim (or a woman) in those countries you are less than human.

The only non Muslims Muslims respect are people with power.

james says:

Worth noting that Palestinian children have needed an IDF escort to attend school because of rock thowing settlers in the Westbank.

No outrage or condemnation, in fact the escort was withdrawn for a while when tensions with the settlers peaked, forcing the kids to syay at home.

JoshK says:

End the welfare and draft exemption and this is fixed.


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Anti-Women Protests Come to a Head

Netanyahu condemns spitting, but his coalition could be threatened

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