2010 Youth Olympic Games 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The black-clad bullies of Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem need to be taught a lesson.
Ideally their physical and mental abuse of women should be terminated by acts of
law but unfortunately, in Israel, both lawmakers and law-enforcers are slow to
act in matters concerning women’s dignity and safety.
This leaves only
one course of action to those women who want to save their fellow females from
further violence and loss of dignity. They must meet violence with appropriate
For many years, Israeli women have excelled at martial arts such
as karate, judo, taekwondo and other Asian forms of combat arts. Many have
developed advanced skills in these and other forms of self-defense.
time for defense is here. Female martial arts experts should band together and
patrol neighborhoods where women have been attacked for walking on the wrong
side of the road, standing on the wrong line in the supermarket or sitting in
the wrong place on public transportation.
Of course, “wrong” is purely a
matter of interpretation by the bullies who use their foul tongues to abuse
women who “sin” with any number of highly unflattering names, throw stones at
them, hurl garbage at them and worse.
Neither do the bully boys limit
themselves to grown women. As we have seen, they also attack little girls,
causing them to have traumatic experiences, the effects of which may stay with
them for years to come.
NOW IMAGINE if the miscreants who attacked women
were set upon by their potential victims and beaten to within an inch of their
lives. Think of the humiliation to the average bully boy, having been bested and
subdued by something as vile and lowly as a woman. Worse still, it might be a
woman who was menstruating at the time. The poor guy would not only walk away
from the experience humiliated, but also contaminated. Oy Vey! The bully boys
are giving the haredi community a bad name. Very few haredim would stoop to spit
at a little girl or call Israeli officials “Nazis.” But the actions of a few
have tainted the many.
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If the law cannot extricate the rotten apples from
the barrel, and the haredi leadership has proven itself unwilling to publicly
condemn the perpetrators of evil and excise them from their communities, then
women must take matters into their own hands. Who better to do this than martial
arts experts (or, should I say, expertesses)? An alternative is to practice the
policy of the mythical Lysistrata, who in her bid to stop the Peloponnesian War
urged the women of Greece to withhold conjugal relations from their husbands. In
the haredi community, where there are strict rules governing marital
cohabitation, abstinence during certain times of the month is difficult enough –
but total abstinence, especially when it’s someone else’s idea, would just be
Some haredi women have indeed protested the treatment meted out
to them by extremists in their midst, while others have publicly stated that
they have chosen this lifestyle of their own free will. Secular people, they
say, have no right to interfere with their choices.
That is legitimate,
up to a point. It is certainly true that each individual man and woman should be
free to make the religious and ethical choices that make sense to him or her,
without interference from the state or other outside forces.
cannot understand – and cannot be expected to understand – the stringencies of
the haredi lifestyle. They cannot understand that the ultra- Orthodox march to
the beat of a different drum. Of course, this does not give non-haredim the
right to force their views on the haredim.
But the converse is also true.
Haredim must not be allowed to impose their standards (or, truth be told, their
inventions; there is no halachic or historic basis for gender separation on
buses or public sidewalks, and certainly no halachic justification for spitting
on other people) on an unwilling public.
If enforcement is the name of
the game, women should band together and be prepared to retaliate. It is now
clear that protest marches and slogans won’t do the trick. Being knocked to the
ground and pinned down by a woman would be a far more effective means of getting
them to rethink their strategies.
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