Sunday, August 30, 2009

'Mehadrin' Bus Protest On. YNet Reports Story Wrong, As Usual


There are so many things wrong with this story that it is hard to know where to start! First, this is not a fight between the secular and the religious, as Ynet would like to make it, it is a fight against the brutish, non-Jewish, non-Religous behavior of a few men who want to use tzniut as a weapon.

The women who filed the original complaints weren't secular, they were religious women on their way to the Kotel who refused to submit to what they knew to be non-Jewish non-Halachic behavior.

One of my friends, who is very religious, was attacked and beaten by the men who tore off her head-covering and called her names that cannot be repeated here. This was the impetus for what has happened legally. My friend's incident occurred in 2006, not last year, as Ynet reports. You can see her original letter here, as it was posted on Dov Bear's page. In addition, religious author Naomi Ragen was verbally abused on a bus in 2004. This is not how Jewish men should treat Jewish women. This behavior has no standing in Halacha!

She and author Naomi Regan, who was also attacked on a bus in much the same way, and another friend of mine who suffers an orthopedic problem and can't walk to the back of a bus, have all been verbally and/or physically assaulted whenever they take the bus. This is unacceptable.

The only reason that Ynet is able to try to present this issue as a secular-vs-religious problem is that the Reform movement's Israel Religious Action Center was the only group that stepped to the plate for these religious women. No religious legal organization would do it because they fear the Haredim. A very sad account of how deeply our religious organizations have been damaged by those who would add to Torah and claim their additions are "halacha."

If you don't believe my claim, please see this story, which talks about a court case instigated by another group of religious women, who want the bus segregation and the assaultsto end.


Women protest gender-segregated buses,7340,L-3769141,00.html

Roy Elman
Published: 08.30.09, 14:41 / Israel Jewish Scene <,7340,L-3443,00.html>

Dozens of people, mostly women, ride on 'mehadrin' buses in which men and women sit separately and sit at front of bus in protest. Protesters demand an end to discrimination that forces women to sit at back of bus for modesty reasons. Protesters make sure to respect religious ban on coming in physical contact with opposite sex

The protest against gender-segregated bus lines stepped up. Dozens of protesters, mainly women, rode en masse on buses labeled 'mehadrin lines' in Jerusalem in which women must sit at the back of bus out for modesty reasons.

Under the banner "Free transportation day – putting an end to discrimination in public spaces," the protesters flocked early in the morning on Sunday to 'mehadrin line' bus stops. When the buses arrived, they sat in the men's section at the front of the bus. The protesters, among them members of city council Laura Wharton and Rachel Azaria, wore red bracelets on their wrists as a sign of their protest and distributed to the passengers information booklets against the controversial separation between the sexes.

"We are acting as responsibly as possible. We instructed all our male and female activists to act respectfully and to dress appropriately," said Ella (Academia without Harassment) Spokesperson Shiran Dadon. "We instructed all of our activists not to sit next to bachelor yeshiva students and for men not to sit next to women out of respect of their desire not to come in physical contact with the opposite sex."

"We are not fighting against the haredi community or against Jewish religion, but against the scheme 'to hide' women under the robe of 'modesty.' We act with the most possible sensitivity, but also with the necessary determination in order to fight against the severe physical and verbal shows of violence that women are subjected to on these bus lines on a daily basis," explained Dadon.

Contrary to expectations, the protest did not provoke a violent response from the haredi public. Except a few shouts and threatening glares, no ultra-Orthodox passenger tried to forcibly block the women from sitting at the front of the bus. On one of the buses, a haredi passenger approached the driver to complain about the women sitting in the men's section of the bus, asking that the driver instruct her to move to the back. The driver ignored the request and kept on driving.

The 'mehadrin lines' started running a number of years ago in response to demands made by the haredi population. The Egged bus company responded to the request and has ever since operated a number of such lines in Jerusalem. The bus lines very quickly became a new source of friction between seculars and haredim.

In recent months, there have been an increasing number of reports of violence against secular people, mostly women, who rode on the 'mehadrin lines' and refused to sit at the back of the bus.

The fight against 'mehadrin lines' was initiated some two years ago when the Reform movement's Israel Religious Action Center petitioned <,7340,L-3759656,00.html> the Supreme Court to shut down the lines. Public protest against the lines has recently been renewed following the convening of a special committee within the Transportation Ministry slated to discuss legalizing segregated bus lines.

1 comment:

  1. I think the poster says it all: "Ladies prefer to travel only with Egged Buses - Punctual, Comfortable, Safe".

    I invite readers to add their new poster slogan for the Mehadrin buses.

    Religion and State in Israel


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