a soldier in israel was accosted by ultra religious men on a bus.. asked to move to the back.. they refused.. they were then called a whore and a non jew (two names that personally i wouldnt find offensive but i guess sometimes its how you say it more than what you say)..
the soldier then called out to the conductors.. she felt threatened.. this has been only one of a series of events forming part of the religious sparked gender crisis in israel.. the cause now of huge uproar in what was once the sleepy town of beit shemesh (house of the sun).. i have friends who live there.. ill call them later to ask how it feels..
i wanted to point out some personally held ideas about this particular case and the general issue..
the ultra religos - claim that it is a harmless request that merely respects their feelings.. they see it not as a big issue and often argue that the segregation has been going on for years (like that makes it any better) including in religious neighbourhoods in nyc (which means it must be ok).. they think we should show gratitude for having been lucky enough to fund their government sponsored life of unlimited study..
the rest of the country is outraged - how dare a certain sect of society decide what everyone elses rights are.. it would be bad enough if only the ultra religious women adhered to this requirement "voluntarily" but to force the rest of the country into their dark ages style regime (jewish sharia) is unfair.. ultra religious jews have worked and self funded their lives for generations world wide - wake up and smell the halla..
beit shemesh specifically is being progressively infused with ultra religious populations.. there have been calls to split the town so that each can live their own way.. but we all now the ultra religious dont work and they rely on subsidies.. so you see this soldier girl who will most probably (judging by her strength of character) go on to be a viable tax payer supporting their very existence was mowed down by a bunch of cowardly men who fear not standing up against an individual female on her own on a bus - who is currently devoting years of her life to defending their security and will one day be busy working hard to support their multi-child families and non participation in israeli mainstream society..
this is a scandal that cannot be tolerated.. it has the potential to tear our society apart but it must be stopped.. it is fundamentally unjust and a severe act of disrespect towards women who are by all means at the very least equal members of our nation..
it will be interesting watching how this develops in fact fascinating would be a better word.. if only it were not so painful to stop and think for a second about all the girls and ladies within the ultra religious society and consider what their lives must look like..
and i know that everyone is blaming only a radical fringe.. i know this is the common theory.. but i have my own reasons to believe that in a place where men and women are not allowed to stand on common ground in dignity that many other things are currently and shall imminently go severely wrong..
a friend from work that lives in beit shemesh finally called me this morning an hour after i first wrote this post.. he said there are cops everywhere in riot gear and on horses.. he says normally there is only a cop or two waiting around but since the ultra orthodox mobs have begun to chase these away there are now full squads.. his son goes to the school that is standing in the centre of the fiasco and his daughters used to go there but now go to a school in jerusalem.. he said its horrible.. the mess is metres away from his house and he is so deeply troubled by whats going on.. he blames our government and the secular leaders that set up the state over 60 years ago.. he supports cutting all subsidies for large families and stopping the promotion of parasite elements in society..
so many times ive complained about my noisy arab neighbours.. they soil the stairway (you can literally see the dirt rapidly fade as you pass above the floor they live and suddenly the stairs are soo clean on the floors they dont go to).. the smoke in the common areas so heavily that we have resorted to stuffing the bottom crack beneath our front door with towel paper on some nights to block the stench and they scream all night at eachother with loud music blaring in the background keeping half of us awake..
but when we arrive they smile at us and welcome us.. they click the light switch as my wife climbs the stairs when they see her arriving with shopping bags and they shake my hand whenever we are in each others personal space.. and these are the "unruly" arab neighbours.. the others will often help with a common project within the building and wish us good morning every single day.. i dont even want to mention the delightful arab neighbours that work at the local pharmacies or at the incredible nationally acclaimed bakery known as piece of cake..
one of my neighbours - begrudgingly once suggested that to "tame" our arab neighbours we should invite ultra religious families to take an interest.. if you ask me i prefer the occasionally messy and loud cohorts that still smile at us and greet us warmly over anyone who will suggest that my wife needs to choose carefully which part of the bus she occupies..
this is a complex corner of the world - proven again daily - but one thing is for sure - you must always count your blessings..