Seperate but equal?
Attempt to allow voluntary segregation of buses fails
A bus was delayed half an hour after a woman refused to give in to ultra-Orthodox demans to sit in the back. CEO of Hiddush, Rabbi Uri Regev says: Ultra-Orthodox zealots enforce bus segregation with violence
A Haredi man sitting on a segregated bus in Jerusalem. 17.05.2010. Photo: Abir Sultan, Flash 90
Tanya Rosenbluth boarded a bus Friday morning from Ashdod to Jerusalem, bus line 451. She didn’t realize this bus was a “Mehadrin line”, where women are expected to sit in the back behind the men. She wanted to sit in the seat behind the driver to ask him where exactly to get off, but dozens of ultra-Orthodox men sitting on the bus tried to force her to the back. Rosenbluth refused their demands and the bus was delayed half an hour. A policeman was called to the scene and tried to persuade her to give in, but she refused.
Hiddush CEO, Rabbi Uri Regev, said: "The case is further proof that the decision of the High Court to allow voluntary segregation on buses has failed; what is needed is a complete ban on this discriminatory practice. Zealots interpret the ruling as a weakness and enforce the ruling through violence. Particularly worrisome is the involvement of the police office called, who played into the violation of these laws and encourage further abuse of this woman."
Regev added that he "calls on the police to disseminate this message: that the role of the police is to ensure that every passenger has the right to choose his or her seat. ". He called the police "to use photographs taken by Tania to find the bullies that prevented the bus’ journey. Israeli law must apply to these individuals too."
It should be clear, attempts to allow voluntary separation between men and women on buses is bound to fail.
At a cabinet meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that the fringe groups cannot be allowed to damage the shared value system of Israeli society. "We must maintain the public space as open and safe for all citizens of Israel," Netanyahu said on Channel 1.
Ynet reported that Transport Minister Israel Katz announced that he intends to launch an investigation into the event. Katz explained that his office would check if the bus driver and Egged company violated the regulations of the Ministry of Transportation by failing to prevent ultra-Orthodox passengers from demanding Rosenbluth move to the back of the bus.
VP of Hiddush, Shahar Ilan, said: "There is no limit to the hypocrisy of the Netanyahu government. In recent years the Ministry of Transport did all he could to allow expansion of the despicable phenomenon called “Mehadrin lines”. Now suddenly Netanyahu and Minister of Transport Katz act surprised when ultra-Orthodox thugs coerce women to move to the back; these lines are directly responsible for this violence. It should be clear, attempts to allow voluntary separation between men and women on buses is bound to fail. Some ultra-Orthodox see this as an expression of weakness and violence is only encouraged. The government must prohibit the operation of such lines clearly and definitively. Only then there is a chance it stops rapid deterioration back to the Middle Ages. "