Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger criticized Sunday the segregation of men and
women on public transportation.
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The haredi community does not have the
right to impose its practices on public bus lines, according to
“If we want there to be segregation, it would be legitimate for
us to establish our own transportation company,” he explained, speaking in an
interview with Army Radio.
“We [the ultra-Orthodox] don’t have the
authority to force our ideas on others,” he continued. “This country does not
belong to the haredi community.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also
addressed the controversy over the increasing exclusion of women in the public
domain, saying “a fringe group must not be allowed to dismantle what we share in
The public domain must be kept “open and safe” for all Israeli
citizens, Netanyahu said at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting. Israel is
a “mosaic” of Jews and Arabs – secular, religious and haredi.
that while up until now there was peaceful coexistence and mutual respect,
recently there have been attempts to unravel that coexistence.
minister said he was “strongly opposed” to separate seating for males and
females on buses, and that “marginal groups cannot be allowed to dismantle our
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni praised 28-year-old
Tania Rosenblit, a woman who refused last week to submit to the demands of
haredi passengers to take a back seat on a bus traveling from Ashdod to
“Even if [Tania] didn’t intend to become a symbol for her
actions, there’s no doubt that her perseverance shows the need for everyone
fearing for Israel’s character to fight and not give up,” Livni wrote on her
Facebook wall. “Tania revealed personal courage and in this decisive moment I
call on all to join the struggle over Israel before it is too
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz met with Rosenblit on Sunday
and ordered an investigation into the incident. It will check whether the bus
driver and the Egged bus cooperative violated the Transportation Ministry’s
policy against gender segregation.
Rosenblit on Sunday accepted an
invitation from Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat to speak before a
subcommittee of the Ministerial Committee on the Status of Women, established on Tuesday to formulate a plan for
dealing with the exclusion of women from the public domain.
Rosenblit that she was proud of her for standing up for her beliefs, and for
publicizing the “shameful and severe behavior of a specific group of
The subcommittee, in which the Transportation, Religious
Services, Interior, Defense and Justice ministries are all represented, plans to
present proposed solutions to the government within 75 days.
The issue of
gender segregation has gained steam recently as some ultra-Orthodox have opposed
hearing women sing during IDF ceremonies and women walking on the same sidewalk
as men in their communities.