Yes – you heard it: women are being forced to the back of the bus. Due to ultra-Orthodox leadership, some bus drivers in Israel are forced to have women enter buses from a separate entrance in the back of the bus. And why? Because women are too great of a distraction for men. Coexisting is simply too great of a plight so some ultra-Orthodox men thought they’d make it easier on themselves and just not coexist at all. But at who’s expense?
Sometimes when I blog about sexism in Israel, I feel kind of funky because it seems so far away that action seems either paternalistic (excuse my patriarchal “French”) or inaccessible. The New Israel Fund, however, seems to disagree and I agree with their disagreement. Join their Say No to the Back of the Bus campaign today. Take action. Your tax dollars (or those of your parents) go to Israel already and the majority of Israelis are not ultra-Orthodox anyways so speaking up against this will actually advocate for Israeli rights.
Email Transport Minister Israel Katz (Likud) today to let him know that this is not okay:
And this gets even easier; use the sample text NIF provides:
Dear Minister Katz,
Forcing women to sit in the back of public buses contradicts democratic principles, Jewish tradition and universal values of religious and personal freedom.
In the past, Israel has taken many commendable steps to further gender equality, and we call upon you to make the right decision in promoting and defending women’s rights. At the very least, please uphold the recommendations of the Special Committee and insist that no woman ever be coerced into entering or sitting in the back of the bus. Even better, require those who insist on such segregation to provide their own, privately-funded, transportation.
We in the U.S. cannot stand idly by while Israel grants a small minority the power to dictate what Judaism is or to make halacha into an instrument of discrimination and segregation. We hope we can count on you to prove your commitment to equality and Israel’s pluralistic democracy.