Sarit Hashkes is a Jewish feminist activist. She has even been included in the Reform Movement’s booklet of experiences of discriminatory behavior against women based on gender. Segregated bus seating, different sidewalks and other silly phenomena of Hareidi practice are realities I, and my wife, and other Orthodox Jews like Naomi Ragen, oppose and share feelings of chagrin with those of the liberal camp.
Sarit, however, being an activist, and a user of social media, has generated a bit more interest in herself by posting about an incident during the end of the Succot holiday.
Walking down Ben-Yehuda Street, actually, a pedestrian mall, after attending a memorial event for an acquaintance who had left the Ultra-Orthodox world but committed suicide, she came upon Chabad hassidim dancing (if I am not mistaken, they maintain a stand there daily for those who wish to put on tefillin) and, as she later told a newspaper, being infuriated by the ultra-Orthodox tendency to bar women from such celebrations – in other words, she wasn’t being blocked and they were no more a pedestrian traffic problem than the buskers there – and also perhaps quite depressed, she took the hand of a secular boy and started dancing with him. In other words, she inserted herself into their space. She, if I could use post-modern linguists, knowing that these people do not tolerate different sex contact, she raped their social and cultural consciousness (if they suffered trauma, I do not know). And she needs to be careful, she might upset Arabs, too.
That came to a quick end. Told to leave, she removed her blouse and stood there in her lingerie, long enough for a picture to be taken that would be uploaded to her Facebook page. She called the police to have the noisy event halted as they had no license to street party. Which infraction bothered her more, I do not know. I won’t ask her directly as I am afraid she might remove her blouse again.
Can you imagine one of the Temple Mount women acting similarly when told by Muslim Waqf guards there that they are acting improperly? Can you imagine a Chabad hassid trying to distribute flyers in a secular neighborhood dropping his trousers? Yes, the Slut Walk has come to Israel but at least in that case, we’re given warning of its occurrence so we can come and ogle or stay away.
Is this to be the new activist trend – sartorial stripping? Of course, it’s been around recently, ask the Canadian students or those who can’t stand the TSA or the topless Femen Ukrainians and please, don’t mix this up with the behavior of Egyptian police who strip female protestors they arrest.
And it is over 100 years old.
In the winter of 1903, members of the Doukhobors, a Russian Christian sect, became the first modern naked protestors. Radical Doukhobor emigrants calling themselves ‘Sons of Freedom’ agitated to spread their radical understanding of the gospel. They added nudity to their repertoire, seeking through nakedness to walk with the simplicity and moral purity of Christ. The Doukhobors brought their nudity to nearby towns and for the next fifty years, public nakedness remained a central aspect of their proselytisation and political dissent.
I do not know how far Ms. Hashkes is going with her radicalism but over at Peter Beinart’s blog of liberal Zionsim, Open Zion, a Sigal Samuel became quite agitated herself and wrote about what Sarit did, that it was something she couldn’t
help wishing more Israeli women would have the guts to do: she took off her shirt, leaving the men to ogle at her bra in silence.
In sponsoring such drivel, Beinart seems to be losing any sense of rationality in the pursuit of his vision for Israel. We know he is upset at the status of Israel’s democracy, although his view is warped. Nevertheless, I''m disappointed, first in myself.
I cannot comprehend the support Ms. Hashkes has received at his blog site for the act of purposefully breaking up an event of exultation. In the second instance, I cannot fathom that Ms. Samuel would seek to have females expose themselves in their lingerie, thus proving to the Chabadniks, even if they are of the messianic sect, and other more mainstreamers that modern secular women are basically disrespectful immoral sluts.
Is that the form of dialogue liberal Zionists want to pursue?
That would seem to be a denuded vision.