Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Israel: the bit that's not so Liberal...

Judy Mandelbaum:

The controversy over the mehadrin or “strictly kosher” bus lines through Haredi areas began a decade ago when the government-subsidized Egged bus company decided to compete with the private companies that were already servicing these parts of town. Not only are female passengers required to sit in the back third of the vehicle, they face withering looks and vocal insults men if they board the buses wearing “immodest” clothing, particularly trousers.

Moving women to the back supposedly ensures the “purity” of the men in front, and women who ignore this masculine imperative do so at their own risk. In 2006, a woman claimed to have been “slapped, kicked, punched and pushed by a group of men who demanded that she sit in the back of the bus with the other women.” In 2007, a group of five Haredi men beat an Ultra-Orthodox woman and a uniformed IDF soldier for sitting next to each other. When police cars arrived on the scene, a crowd of Haredi men punctured their tires, allowing the attackers to escape. In another typical story,

A pregnant woman got on the 318 midnight bus from Bnai Brak to Rehovot. She sat in the front because of motion sickness, explaining this to the other passengers. One Hareidi man stopped the bus by standing with one foot outside and one on the step up so the driver couldnt close the door. The woman finally fled into the street in the middle of the night. The other passengers went looking for her and found her under a tree, humiliated, hurt, and refusing to re-board.

Israel currently has as many as sixty-three segregated bus lines making 2,500 trips a day.

Trailer for the coming Israeli documentary 'Black Bus':


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