Is it time to speak up?
In the article “Relax Israelis: live and let live” (AJN, 7/12/11) Avi Rath puts it well when he stated that “the last thing Israeli society needs is constant squabbling over religious affairs”.
When Hilary Clinton reportedly expressed concerns about some aspects of domestic Israeli and religious politics, was she so wrong about the women’s issues in particular?
Modern Orthodox, ‘secular’ and Progressive Israeli women are voicing alarm at the intrusion of ‘haredi’ influences on Israeli society which impacts first and foremost on the civic and just plain human rights of girls and women and they are challenging us to help them from the Diaspora. Well known activist, Sharon Shenhav quoted from her article:” as an Orthodox women's rights activist and lawyer, I am very concerned about increasing efforts by religious extremists to remove women from public areas. My friends and colleagues, who include Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and secular (non-observant) Jews are equally concerned about these efforts to silence women's voices. In Jerusalem, we are particularly concerned about the elimination of women's faces and bodies from billboards and public advertisements on buses. As I mentioned in the article I published, I am concerned about the response of secular organizations and companies who have voluntarily agreed to eliminate women from public areas or comply with demands for gender segregation in public areas. These secular organizations include the IDF, Egged Bus company, Magen David Adom, the city of Jerusalem, and private commercial companies.”
The time may have come for Diaspora Jews to also voice our concerns about the circumstances which face many of our Israeli sisters. Women must be permitted to be HEARD as well as to be SEEN -- in Israel and in all other countries. With affiliates in over 40 countries in the world, The International Council of Jewish Women ( ICJW) strongly supports this position to help all women including the Israeli ones with social issues which do not depend solely on throwing money at them. The “squabbling” Rath describes over religious affairs is based on real problems many women and families face.
PM Netanyahu and the Knesset should enforce a Jewish religious edict of “live and let live”.
It is bad enough that the whole Arab Middle East seems to be returning to the Middle Ages religiously, especially vis-à-vis women,-but we do not wish such a fate creeping onto the Israelis.
There is a small minority of Jewish religious extremists,- why give them such influence in a democracy? .
Rath’s “Live and let live” is a wonderful slogan for coexistence. If only her Arab neighbours would also embrace it vis-à-vis Israel as a whole!
( Hon. Life Member of ICJW Executive).
Letter to Australian Jewish News (Published 12/1/2012).
As Jewish women we are deeply concerned about the recent reports of the treatment of women in Israel. There is a disturbing trend in Israel lately to give in to the more extreme elements who do not want women to be seen or heard in the public sphere. This is a disgraceful abuse of human rights and must not be tolerated in any way.
The shameful way a young girl from an observant family has been mistreated by those who believe they are acting according to higher laws, is but one instance of the despicable behaviour of a growing number, albeit a small minority, of ultra-orthodox. We do not lump all ultra-orthodox together as one community. They are many communities with different views, and to their credit ultra-orthodox community leaders have come out strongly condemning the actions of these fanatics as going against Torah values and teaching.
We call on all men and women, including Jewish community leaders here in Australia and in Israel to speak out against the violation of Israeli women’s rights.
Women must not be forced to sit at the back of public buses so that some ultra-orthodox men do not have to look at them.
Women must not be forced to cross a street to walk on the other side.
Women’s faces must not be taken down from billboards.
Women’s voices must not be silenced.
Di Hirsh OAM
President, National Council of Jewish Women of Australia
Australian Affiliate Head of International Council of Jewish Women
Robyn Lenn OAM
Vice President, International Council of Jewish Women
Dr Anne Morris
Chair Status of Women, International Council of Jewish Women
and National Council of Jewish Women of Australia
LETTER IN AJN 13/1/2012.
(THE CHUTZPAH OF SOME MEN!)
The continuing debate about the treatment of women by and in the Haredi community in Israel is more than timely.
Martin D Stern’s letter from the UK (AJN 6/1/’12) shows up the hypocrisy of the men’s stance supposedly on Halachic grounds.
Women ORDERED to the BACK of a bus?
Why should not the women sit in the front and the men who don’t want to sit next to them go to the back?
The chutzpah of those men is unbelievable!
Are they living in racist segregationist American South or in the South African apartheid era like the Blacks were?