(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Bayit Yehudi MK Bezalel Smotrich slammed Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit on Thursday for backing the Tel Aviv Municipality’s decision to disallow gender segregation at a Chabad rally next week in Rabin Square.
In a letter of appeal to Mandelblit, Smotrich wrote that the decision was a mortal blow to the right of religious people to live according to their faith and way of life in the public sphere.
“I ask you to instruct the Tel Aviv Municipality immediately that the sweeping prohibition it imposes on the gender segregated events is unconstitutional and that it is not within its power to prevent the ‘Messiah in the Square’ event, which was approved by the municipality many months earlier,” he wrote.
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai released a statement on Thursday morning announcing he would not allow gender segregation in public spaces in Tel Aviv-Jaffa. He made the announcement after Mandelblit issued a decision saying that the municipality has the authority to disallow gender segregation at events that need its approval to take place.
“Our town Tel Aviv-Jaffa, in which the Declaration of Independence was read, has always been a pioneer when it comes to protecting human rights, equality and gender equality in particular. This decision is consistent with the values of the State of Israel which strives for equal rights in eradicating the grave phenomenon of exclusion of women from the public sphere,” Huldai said.
He noted that the municipality had taken into account that the event was to be held in a central square through which many people pass and was supposed to be open to the public and not exclusively religious.
Likud MK Yehudah Glick addressed the issue via Twitter earlier this week, slamming the mayor: “Mr. Huldai, mayor of Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv is the capital of Israeli prostitution. The mayor is not disturbed by the strippers, pimps and prostitutes. He is not disturbed by entire streets that have become prostitute centers. But a Chabad event that separates men from women, good heavens, hurts women’s dignity! Hypocrisy has never broken such a record!”
The event – under the slogan “faith, joy, redemption” – is scheduled for the Hebrew date Tammuz 12, which marks both the birthday of the sixth Lubavitcher rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, and the anniversary of his release from imprisonment and a capital sentence in Soviet Union in 1927.
Chabad released a statement saying the event will go ahead as planned, and that it filed a petition with the Administrative Court appealing the decision to ban the use of a mechitza
(partition used by Orthodox Jews to separate men and women) at the event.
A spokeswoman for the municipality told The Jerusalem Post
that as long as Chabad agrees to the event will not be gender segregated, it can go ahead.