Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hadarat Nashim

I knew the ultra-Orthodox were becoming a more powerful social force in Israel, but am still shocked at the emergence of a full-blown public battle over women's rights:
"In the three months since the Israeli Health Ministry awarded a prize to a pediatrics professor for her book on hereditary diseases common to Jews, her experience at the awards ceremony has become a rallying cry...

"Not only did Dr. Maayan and her husband have to sit separately, as men and women were segregated at the event, but she was instructed that a male colleague would have to accept the award for her because women were not permitted on stage...

"The list of controversies grows weekly: Organizers of a conference last week on women’s health and Jewish law barred women from speaking from the podium, leading at least eight speakers to cancel; ultra-Orthodox men spit on an 8-year-old girl whom they deemed immodestly dressed; the chief rabbi of the air force resigned his post because the army declined to excuse ultra-Orthodox soldiers from attending events where female singers perform; protesters depicted the Jerusalem police commander as Hitler on posters because he instructed public bus lines with mixed-sex seating to drive through ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods; vandals blacked out women’s faces on Jerusalem billboards."

There has always been underlying resentment of the Haredim (ultra-Orthodox) in Israel because the community does not have to serve in the army and mostly lives off government aid while the men study in yehsivas so that they can learn the proper Judaism they think everyone else should follow. This resentment and the clash with Israel's largely secular liberal culture is boiling over as they become a higher share of the population due to birthrate differentials, and thus expand the areas where they seek to impose their ways.

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