Women in Israel have the right to sit anywhere they want, Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu told a crowd of 3,000 people at a Taglit-Birthright
mega-event in the Jerusalem International Convention Center on
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“This is a country where Arabs have rights, the president of
the Supreme Court is a woman and where a woman can sit anywhere she wants,” he
said. “It’s a free country.”
The prime minister responded to the ongoing
controversy that erupted last month about bus lines catering to the
ultra-Orthodox where women sit in the back of the bus.
During his speech,
Netanyahu broke with official Taglit-Birthright policy and urged participants
from over a dozen countries to immigrate to Israel.
“I want you to come
here to make aliya,” he said.
“Whether you do that or stay there, be
proud of your birthright.”
As for the mega-event itself, it featured the
same loud music, pyrotechnics and troupes of drummers and dancers that are the
norm at such events.
Philanthropists Michael Steinhardt and Lynn
Schusterman, who donate generously to the program, addressed the participants
and spoke about their first visit to Israel.
“I remember walking the
streets of Jerusalem belonging to something bigger,” Schusterman said. “Even
though I was far from my home in Oklahoma, I felt at home.”
Menajovsky of Buenos Aires, Argentina, the Birthright trip to Israel was her
first time in the country.
The 26-year-old journalist said Israel looked
the way she imagined it would, but that the trip had affected her in a way that
took her by surprise.
“It’s been fantastic,” she said. “I realized what a
small country it was and was impressed by the Jewish history.
best moment was visiting the Hebrew University and seeing the
She said she has no plans to make aliya but she would like to
study for a semester at university here or volunteer on a kibbutz.