(photo credit: UBIZHUTAN FACEBOOK PAGE)
A decision issued by the Lod District Court compelling the Yated Ne’eman daily to publish an election campaign ad from a haredi women’s party was overturned late Sunday night by the Supreme Court.
The U’bezchutan party, led by Ruth Colian, has objected to the lack of any women on any of the electoral lists of the haredi political parties – Shas, United Torah Judaism and Yahad – saying the needs and concerns of haredi women are not being addressed by the male MKs in the different haredi parties.
Colian has sought to gain exposure in the haredi community, including placing election campaign advertisements in haredi newspapers, which are for a lot of the haredi public the main resource for news and current events.
The largest selling haredi daily, Yated Ne’eman, as well as other haredi newspapers, refused however to publish her advertisements, and so Colian approached various courts and institutions to gain a legal writ forcing the paper to publish the ads.
In it’s arguments for rejecting Kolian’s advertisements, Yated claimed that doing so would contradict its longstanding policy of only publicizing material that is approved by the paper’s supervising rabbis, and that publishing those ads would constitute a severe injury to the religious and cultural autonomy of the newspaper.
In responding to Yated’s arguments, Supreme Court Justice Neal Hendel firstly criticized Colian for repeatedly delaying and postponing her lawsuits so that the appropriate address for the suit, the Lod District Court, was only approached on March 11, six days before the election.
He said the tight timescale of the lawsuit had not allowed for the requisite deliberation on the issue at hand and that the Lod District Court has therefore erred in granting a writ against Yated.
Hendel said the issue was “complicated and very important, which needs to be handled thoroughly and not under pressure or in haste,” saying that it was a case of “human error” in which the issue had not reached the appropriate court in time.
He therefore canceled the writ but said Colian could re-submit her suit at a later date.
Prof. Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, the chairwoman of the Rackman Center, which represented U’bezchutan, spoke out fiercely against the ruling for not dealing with the merits of the case and the discrimination against women it dealt with.
“The meaning of the ruling is that the only electoral list that has female haredi representation on it and is comprised solely of haredi women will not be brought to the attention of its target audience,” said Halperin-Kaddari.
“The court preferred to rely on formal legal explanations without showing any understanding of the great barriers and obstacles placed in the way of the women of U’bezchutan, without addressing the threats and pressures against them, and is in effect a partner to their exclusion and the fact that they have become invisible in all meanings of the word.”