Rachel Azaria 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat fired Rachel Azaria (Yerushalmim) from his coalition
on Tuesday in response to the liberal councilwoman’s petition to the High Court
of Justice last week to remove barriers that separated men from women in the
ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea She’arim.
Azaria, who has long been
active in the fight against gender separation on buses and sidewalks in
ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, was also stripped of her portfolios of early
childhood education and community councils.
The municipality said that
while it is opposed to gender separation, a member of the coalition cannot file
a petition against the city. Azaria petitioned the High Court over canvas
barriers erected in Mea She’arim when many tourists come to the area to see the
traditional celebrations during the intermediate days of Succot.
court agreed to consider her petition and ruled that the barriers were
Azaria told The Jerusalem Post
that both the court and the
police thanked her for the petition, which brought the issue to the public
“The Municipality of Jerusalem is against separating genders in
public areas and will continue to assist the police with this issue as much as
possible,” a municipal spokesman told the media.
“I am very sorry to see
Barkat giving in to extremist haredi members of the coalition and going against
the High Court of Justice,” Azaria said on Wednesday. “It raises concern about
who is really running the city. I will continue to work for the things for which
I was elected.”
The firing of Azaria came just a few months after she was
seriously considered for a promotion to a deputy mayoral position. Haredi
coalition members staunchly opposed the move as they felt Azaria, a member of
the national religious community who has long clashed with the ultra- Orthodox
over social issues, to be anti-haredi.