Sex segregation on the buses divides Israelis

Ultra-Orthodox Jews plan private fleet after woman refuses to sit at the back

Jerusalem

A group of ultra-Orthodox Jewish millionaires is considering funding a private bus line in Israel that would enforce strict segregation between male and female passengers, an Israeli newspaper has reported.

The initiative follows public outrage at an incident where a secular Israeli woman refused to take a seat at the back of a public bus travelling to an ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood in Jerusalem at the request of a religious male passenger.

The backers of the proposed project are looking at providing bus transportation in Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) neighbourhoods in Jerusalem, Ashdod and Beit Shemesh as an alternative to Israel's Egged bus service, which insists that any gender segregation on its buses must be voluntary, Israel's daily Yediot Aharonot reported yesterday.

"The Haredi public doesn't own the entire state," Israel's Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger was quoted as saying. "I support segregation, but only when it is done willingly. On private lines in which all the passengers are eager for separation, and the dignity of women is maintained, then that is a welcome initiative."

Israel's Transport Ministry has yet to respond to the request, and it remains unclear if the initiative will be approved, as Israel's laws against discrimination demand that any provider of a public service must treat everybody equally, irrespective of gender, religion or ethnicity.

Tanya Rosenblit, a Jewish woman, was furious when she boarded a bus in Ashdod last week only to be told by a black-clad Haredi male passenger to sit at the back of the vehicle.

The man refused to allow the driver to close the doors while Ms Rosenblit stood her ground and the police were called. A policeman asked her to acquiesce with the man's request, but she refused and the man got off the bus.

Writing on the Israeli news site Ynet, she said: "Until yesterday, I was sure that I lived in a free country. I was certain that a person's dignity and freedom are supreme values in our diverse society. It's still hard for me to believe that in 2011, there are men who believe they must not sit behind a woman."

Israeli newspaper editors quickly drew comparisons with Rosa Parks, the black American woman who refused to sit at the back of a bus in Alabama in 1955, an act of defiance that was a defining moment in the civil rights movement.

Many Israelis have lashed out in recent weeks at what they view as efforts by particularly pious Haredim to impose a more modest and religiously observant lifestyle on the rest of the population and in its own communities.

During a recent festival, Haredi residents erected a screen in a Jerusalem neighbourhood forcing women and men to walk on opposite sides of the street. And last week, ultra-Orthodoix men tried to prevent women from voting in a local election by screaming abuse at them.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam