Hiddush: Freedom of Religion for Israel uploaded a short film to YouTube today in protest of gender segregation and discrimination against women in Israel. The film was released in honor of International Human Rights Day which began today, December 10th.
Israeli artists, who volunteered for the film, are asking the public to send letters of protest to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, calling on him to act swiftly to combat gender discrimination on all fronts by ending state-funded gender segregated public transportation (in which women sit in the back of the bus) and by passing legislation that will levy heavy fines to deter those who intentionally discriminate against women in any way.
Examples of gender discrimination in Israel:
· Contrary to myths, gender separated bus lines do not operate only in solely Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) communities- they operate over the country in dozens of bus lines with thousands of passengers each day. In segregated lines, women are required to sit in the back of the bus.
· The “Egged” bus company refuses to publish advertisements with pictures of women- and after public outcry, said they would eliminate men as well.
· The Yehud Municipality replaced a statue of a woman with that of a man, bowing to pressures from religious residents who claimed the statue was “immodest”.
· A sign was hung on a bomb shelter in Ashdod during Operation Pillar of Defense which forbade women from entering, as it was a shelter “for men and boys only”.
· Haredi political parties running in the elections do not include women, and a Religious Zionist rabbi went as far as to issue a halachic (Jewish Law) edict banning women from being voted into the Knesset.
Hiddush President Adv. Rabbi Uri Regev said “If we don’t stop the exclusion of women in the name of religion immediately, the current reality could be a glimpse of a future where things could be much worse, including further decline in dark policies”. Regev underscored that
“The 2012 Religion and State Index revealed that two-thirds of the public support turning the exclusion of women into a criminal offense. The time has come for the government to rise up and take action. In order for that to happen, we must put the issue on the agenda of Israel and of the international Jewish community”.
The film was produced with the support of the New Israel Fund and the following Israeli artists:
Shmil Ben Ari, Hani Nahmias, Hila Feldman, Dalia Shimko, Einat Shroff, and Yossi Marshek