Feb 6, 2012
In Israel, a minority of several thousand religious fanatics tries to impose segregation from the Middle Ages on half the population, women – especially in the neighborhoods where the fanatics live.
Women are excluded from certain public ceremonies, from funerals, forced to bunch together on the sidewalks or in spaces reserved for them, and to sit at the back of buses. This is applied not only to the women who belong to the haredim, the ultra-orthodox “men in black,” but on all women.
Three women have recently reacted. An eight-year-old girl was seen in tears on Israeli television, refusing to return to her religious school in a settlement in the west of Jerusalem, because she was afraid of being once again insulted and spit upon because of her dress and her sleeves, which these Jewish Taliban think aren’t long enough. Some days before, a 28-year-old student refused to sit at the back of a bus. And another woman, even wearing a wig and long skirt in the manner of orthodox Jews, chose to sit just behind the bus driver, refusing to be sent to the back of the bus.
On December 27th, several thousand demonstrators gathered against this segregation that the fanatics try to impose through moral and sometimes physical violence. The reaction of the fanatics was to respond by a grotesque march where they wore the yellow star, their children being dressed in the stripes of deportees to Hitler’s camps, implying by this that the rest of the Israeli population were no better than ... Nazis.
Although the government of Netanyahu and the far-rightist Lieberman is officially hostile to this segregation, it makes the population pay the price of compromises so that it can gain the parliamentary support of religious parties like Shas. The dictatorship exercised by a more and more extremist Israeli power against the Palestinian people once again has consequences for the Israeli population itself.