Tel Aviv demonstrators call to end degradation of women

Over a hundred protesters march from Habimah Theater to Independence Hall in support of women's rights.

Women's rights activists in J'lem 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Women's rights activists in J'lem 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
More than a hundred mainly female protesters demonstrated in central Tel Aviv to voice their outrage Wednesday at what they said is a worsening trend of discrimination against women in the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community in Israel.
“We are launching a campaign against this demented campaign of degrading women in the public sphere. We went to the streets today to bring it to the awareness of the residents of Tel Aviv that today it may be in Beit Shemesh but tomorrow, it will be here,” said Gila Oshrat, chairwoman of the Women’s International Zionist Organization, which organized the protest.
Oshrat said she believed the discrimination against women in the public sphere isn’t just limited to buses and sidewalks in the haredi sector, rather, it’s a problem that exists throughout society.
“This is a snowball that just gets bigger and bigger. The discrimination on buses is just a drop in the bucket. Discrimination against women happens in the workforce, in politics and throughout Israeli society.”
The protest came a day after a few thousand rallied in Beit Shemesh against a growing trend of attacks on women by local haredi extremists who accused them of not dressing modestly enough.
Wednesday’s protest began with a march from Habimah Theater to Independence Hall at the end of Rothschild Boulevard, the epicenter of this summer’s “social justice” protests. The protesters carried signs reading “This is not Iran” and “Degradation of women is a disgrace,” among other slogans. The crowd also carried placards decrying those haredim who receive draft deferrals, or do not, in the eyes of the protesters, shoulder a fair share of the national burden.
“This is not just a women’s issue, but an issue for all society and we must fight against the trafficking of women, against violence against women, against the restrictions on women serving in national institutions,” said Liora Minka, chairman of Emunah, the national religious women’s organization.
Minka also criticized what she said were attempts by some to distort Jewish law in order to justify the degradation of women.
“I want to say the attempt to make the degradation of women part of the Jewish law is mistaken with no basis in Jewish law.”
Within the predominantly female and middle-aged crowd stood Erez Mor of Rishon Lezion, who attended the rally carrying his infant daughter in a backpack.
When asked why he came to the rally, he said “I am against all of this nonsense of segregation between the sexes and whoever supports it can go ahead and find another country. They can move to Iran if they want, there it’s respected.”
When asked if he worries about the face of the country when his daughter is a grown woman, he said “when my daughter is 18, if she wants to be in the army or a pilot, or whatever she wants to do, no man will stop her.”