UPDATE: Border policeman hospitalized after being hit by stone thrown by Palestinian terrorist in Jerusalem.
In the past month, an open ugly sore in the fabric of Israeli society has been laid bare for the world to see.
For far too long, secular Zionist Israelis have turned a blind eye to the attempt of anti-Zionist religious fanatics such as Neturei Karta, Vizhnitz Hasidic, Toldos Aharon, Satmar, and Breslov to degrade and segregate women. It seems that as long as these groups were tiny, and confined by their own choice to their own communities that had little connection with the outside world, what went on in those communities was ignored.
Women have been forced by ultra-orthodox men to ride on the back of buses, walk on the opposite side of the street than men, not sit in public spaces, and dress in a way completely dictated by men. But now, as these ultra-orthodox, anti-Zionist fanatics have begun to spread out from their original communities into secular areas such as Beit Shemesh and Ashdod, they have sought to deny non-ultraorthodox women basic rights in these communities as well.
Three events of the last month have suddenly awakened the Israeli public to the gross inequities being endured by Israeli women.
First came the case of orthodox soldiers walking out of an IDF performance being given by an IDF group that included female singers
because the men found the sound of female voices “sexually suggestive.” This event led to the head of the IDF declaring that such behavior (walking out of IDF concerts) would not be tolerated.
Second was the case of Tanya Rosenblit
who started a near riot in your humble servant’s home city of Ashdod when she sat down on the front of a bus that traveled through Ashdod’s ultra-orthodox neighborhood on its way to Jerusalem. When ultra-orthodox men spotted her, one of them blocked the bus while others cursed her for being a “prostitute” and a “slut”. Defiantly she held her ground, and police eventually removed the ultra-orthodox and allowed the bus to continue.
On Friday, Channel 2 news in Israel documented the case of Naama Margolese,
an eight year old orthodox religious girl from Bet Shemesh, who told how she is cursed and spit upon by older ultra-orthodox men for being “immodest” on her 5 minute walk to her elementary school each morning. Margolese told Channel Two that she is now terrified to go to school–the news broadcast showed how she must now be accompanied by her mother who is similarly treated by the Beit Shemesh ultra-orthodox.
It is gratifying today to see the Sephardic orthodox community, led by Eli Yishai of Shas, call the treatment of Margolese “nauseating and disgusting.” Another former leader of Shas, Arieh Deri called the actions of the ultra-orthodox “a crime” and actions that will “not be forgiven on Yom Kippur.”
It is also gratifying this morning to see Israeli women and men from across the political spectrum rallying to condemn the ultra-orthodox, anti-Zionist treatment of women. It is a condemnation that should have come long ago and a treatment that should never have been tolerated in Israel–or anywhere.
THIS DAY IN ISRAELI HISTORY
Tonight, December 26, 2011, the community of Itamar has lit Chanukah candles in front of the Fogel family home where the five Fogel family members–Udi, Ruthi, Yoav, Elad, and Hadas– were so brutally slaughtered earlier this year.
More than this, the Itamar community is remembering all those of Itamar who have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists over the years:
Itamar security officer Shlomo Miller; Arye Agranyoni, who was murdered on the hill of Itamar; Gilad Zar; security officer, Meir Liksenberg, shot on his way home to Itamar; the Shabo Family – the mother Rachel and her three children Nerya Avraham, Zvi Yaakov and Avishai Yosef, who were murdered by a terrorist in their home in Itamar; Yosef Twito, who was killed while trying to come to their aid; Gilad Shtiglits, Netanel Riachi, Avraham Yosef Siton, three “Hitsim” High School Yeshiva students who were shot by a terrorist who infiltrated their school; Shmuel Avraham Yerushalmi, who was murdered in the Giv’a Tzarfatit junction; and soldier Matan Zigron, who was killed in a terrorist attack in Ariel, and Eliyahu Asheri who was kidnapped and murdered (list provided by Arutz Sheva).
Few communities have suffered like Itamar.