Several ugly acts against women are forcing a useful conversation in Israel over the increased, outsize influence of a few extreme, intolerant ultra-Orthodox residents and leaders. Saturday night, in Beit Shemesh, an ultra-Orthodox man reportedly spat on a 9-year-old girl on her way home from a school that some want moved (the girl is not religious enough by their standards, and not dressed modestly enough; she and her parents are from the States, as it happens). Last week saw a bona fide Rosa Parks moment as one woman refused to sit in the back of an ostensibly gender-segregated bus. (This came after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mentioned Ms. Parks in the context of Israeli women.) Amir Mizroch notices a video of Haredi men screaming at mothers escorting their daughters to that same religious school, which the men don’t want there.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has decried the “religious extremists.” Right-wing minister Uzi Landau added, “Haredi extremists should be dealt with like leftist anarchists and right-wing settler youth—decisively.” Presumably, however, they should not be treated the way Palestinian protesters are. Hopes that religious settlers who have vandalized mosques and even attacked an IDF base in the West Bank would face similar consequences to Palestinians who break laws protesting the occupation appear to be dashed now that the IDF has argued against trying the settlers in military courts (admittedly, the IDF is more concerned with dividing the army, which has a large religious-settler contingent).
Opposing this misogynist horribleness would seem like the easy move on Bibi’s part, but it’s actually not, and he’s likely going to pay a price for it: Arutz Sheva—a settler news outfit—reports that the United Torah Judaism party is considering parting with Netanyahu over his “bashing the Haredim.” The fact that it costs Bibi to condemn the obviously condemnable means that he does deserve credit for it. It also means, however, that if it continues, Netanyahu could feel that his coalition is threatened and he is forced to take a softer stance. That could become vomit-worthy very fast. Less nausea-inducing? Tonight’s protest, endorsed by President Peres and expected to draw thousands, against this noxious bigotry.
Here is the news segment that has helped stoke the righteous outcry.
Israel’s ‘Rosa Parks’ Refuses to Take Back Seat [CNN]
What Would You Do to Solve This? [Forecast Highs]
Netanyahu: Israel Is a Democracy and Won’t Tolerate Discrimination [Haaretz]
End of Haredi Partnership With Right Wing? [Arutz Sheva]
Earlier: Jewish Violence Leads to Legal Equality