MK Tzipi Hotovely, chairwoman of the Committee for the Advancement of the Status
of Women, described on Wednesday the growing number of incidents in which women
are excluded from the public space as “apartheid” which contradicts basic
In recent months, a spate of incidents have come to
public attention in which proponents of equal rights say women have been
marginalized in a variety of ways.
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In September, during Succot,
separation barriers were erected in Jerusalem’s Mea She’arim neighborhood to
prevent men and women mixing during the crowded and busy period of the
Religious IDF soldiers also refused to listen to women singing
at an army event because of a prohibition within Jewish law of listening to
women sing in person.
A complaint was submitted to the broadcasting
authority about the exclusion of women on the haredi radio station Kol Berama,
and the issue of gender-segregated buses in haredi neighborhoods has also not
Hotovely made her comments during the first-ever hearing
of the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women into the
issue, initiated by MK Einat Wilf (Independence).
“The committee... sees
the exclusion of women as apartheid which contradicts the values of the state of
Israel and Jewish law,” Hotovely said. “We have to fight this phenomenon of
radicalization that is being expressed through the exclusion of women [in public
life], because it seriously injures [the rights] of women and society as a
The committee will initiate legislation designed to deny public
funds to any agencies that participate in the exclusion of women and will also
closely watch further incidents of segregation and marginalization.
phenomenon is a blatant infraction of equal rights carried out through the
exploitation of public money which is provided by the state,” Hotovely
The committee said that it would be asking that Egged and the
Transportation Ministry provide within three months a document detailing any
occurrences in which the ruling of the Supreme Court outlawing gender
segregation on buses is infringed.
MK Orit Zuaretz (Kadima) was also
present at the hearing and further proposed that Egged demand that its drivers
complete a form whenever any incident of segregation occurs.
Court ruling was in January, how long does it take to draw up correct
procedures,” she asked.
The committee will consider the issue in a number
of sittings throughout the Knesset winter session, and will discuss in
particular the marginalization of women in the army, and in cities with large
haredi populations such as Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh.
The hearing was
also attended by Rachel Azaria, a member of the Jerusalem City Council who was
fired from the council coalition and stripped of her portfolios after
petitioning the High Court against the Jerusalem Municipality to enforce the
removal of segregation barriers during Succot.
“It’s amazing that an
alliance has been formed between extremists and the establishment,” Azaria said.
“The haredi public realizes that it needs to be part of society, so we see
military enlistment and participation in the workforce increasing in this
But this threatens the extremists, who are burdening their
communities with fabricated [laws] which are not halachic.
“Their goal is
not to isolate women from the public sphere but to isolate the haredi community
from the general community.”