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Old 12-27-2011, 03:27 PM   #1
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Israel's Religious Tensions

...and this time its not between the Muslims and the Jews:

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Thousands of Israelis have rallied in the town of Beit Shemesh against ultra-Orthodox Jewish extremism.
The protest follows two days of clashes after an eight-year-old girl said she had been harassed on her way to school.
Some ultra-Orthodox in Beit Shemesh are seeking to segregate men and women.
President Shimon Peres backed the protest. "The entire nation must be recruited in order to save the majority from the hands of a small minority," Mr Peres said hours before the rally.
He said the demonstration was a defence of the "character" of the state of Israel "against a minority which breaks our national solidarity".
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni also condemned "the extremist elements that are rearing their heads and are trying to impose their world view on us".
Protesters, some holding signs reading "Free Israel from religious coercion" and "Stop Israel from becoming Iran", gathered on Tuesday evening.
Anger spilled over after an eight-year-old American girl, Naama Margolese, said she was afraid to walk to school in the town because ultra-Orthodox men shouted at her.
"When I walk to school in the morning, I used to get a tummy ache because I was so scared... that they were going to stand and start yelling and spitting," she said in a subsequent interview with The Associated Press on Monday.
In his statement, Mr Peres said: "No person has the right to threaten a girl, a woman or any person in any way. They are not the lords of this land."

BBC News - Israelis rally against ultra-Orthodox extremism



There was a case about a month ago of buses used by ultra-Orthodox Jews which forced women to sit in the back only.


The way I see it, its funny (in a good way) that Judaism can cover both ends of the spectrum. I know some very liberal Jews and here we have ultra conservative Jews. I don't think of any other religion that has such a wide spectrum. I mean, there aren't too many liberal Muslims, most that I've run into seem to fall under moderate or conservative. As for Christianity, I haven't heard of any group that calls for segregation of the sexes.



Can some of our Israeli FYMers give their perspective on this? Is it really a minority or a very influential minority that could hurt Israel?
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Old 12-27-2011, 08:57 PM   #2
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I'm not Israeli or Jewish but I hope that the Israeli left and other secular influences, far from kow-towing to the demands of religious extremists, will continue to campaign vigorously for further secularisation of the country's constitution - already, of course, more secular than most in the Middle East - difficult though that may be given the forces that threaten the state, continue to work to protect the rights of gentile and for that matter non-observant Jews within Israel, and that the broader Israeli society will try to ignore these extremists in their midst.
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Old 12-27-2011, 10:47 PM   #3
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Hard Questions, Tough Answers with Yossi Alpher -December 27, 2011 - Americans for Peace Now
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Old 12-28-2011, 02:50 AM   #4
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Let me give you some insight from my own personal experience:

I have a friend who lives in a northern suburb of Tel-Aviv and on his street there is a Yeshiva (a learning institute for orthodox Jews). The street is comprised of mainly secular residents and there is peaceful co-existance between the students and the population - who for the most part stay out of each other's way and don't infringe on each other's lifestyles.

In the back of this street is a bus stop that travels from the neighborhood to the city of Ashdod where I live. The bus passes through the city of Bnei Brak (which is a city of orthodox residents) and the passengers on this bus are ALL orthodox religious people.

About a year ago, when I first took this bus home, I got on at the first stop, paid the driver and sat down right in back of him (which I usually do if the bus is empty). After about two stops, the driver advised me that I would have to move to the back because men and women are separated on this line. Without any hesitation at all, I got up and quietly moved back. I understood the nature of this particular bus line and out of respect I complied with the driver's request......the key word being RESPECT (as opposed to coersion).

Another example - near my house is a neighborhood of orthodox residents. Every Friday I go to a food store there to buy some chopped liver for the Sabbath. I go there dressed in slacks (which are forbidden for women according to Jewish Halacha) but I wear my long black coat over it and when I get to the store and see a lot of men there, I wait at the back until they leave in order to keep a respectable distance. This to me is not demeaning - it is being respectful of the customs of the neighborhood.

In orthodox Jewry there is separation between the sexes in synagogues, at weddings, and, yes, even on certain bus lines where the majority of passengers is orthodox.

I condemm the violence shown towards this 8 year old girl and, indeed towards ANYONE who is being threatened and attacked in a show of "conform or else" by the ultra orthodox people. I would just like to say that this kind of violence is NOT acceptable by Jewish standards and the right thing to do is to try to explain WHY there is separation between the sexes (not that I know myself.....). These zealots give Jews a bad name and only serve to further enhance the mistrust (and even hatred) of orthodox Jewry.

These ultra orthodox are the same kind of people as those who burn Israeli flags, declare Israel's independence day as a day of mourning, and who are welcome in Tehran with open arms because they deny Israel's right to exist.

Bottom line - again, the key word is RESPECT.
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Old 12-28-2011, 04:16 AM   #5
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Do I need to show respect to intolerance and enforcement of inequality, though? If those men, and also the women, accept it as part of their way of life, well, it's up to them. But telling others that they have to give up their equality is nothing that I'm willing to accept.

Here in Kurdistan society is in some ways similar. There's many quite progressive people, but in general society still favours men a lot over here. Especially in the rural areas, FGM and forced marriage are still being practiced. Men can go out whenever they want, but for women it's difficult as many places are closed to them and if they break those societal rules they have to fear repercussions from their own family. People say, that's tradition, but do we have to accept, let alone, respect traditions that are such grave injustices based on nothing but gender? And power over the "weaker" gender?
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Old 12-28-2011, 05:50 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AchtungBono View Post
I would just like to say that this kind of violence is NOT acceptable by Jewish standards
Interesting you should say that, given the systematic violence that Israeli Jews exert against Palestinians.

Fully expecting a "but they're firing rockets at us!" response, let me pre-empt that by showing you this table showing how many Jewish lives are really taken by Palestinian rockets and mortars. Two (2!) in the whole of 2011. Not actually a threat to the existence of the Jewish state, I would say.

So excuse me for not showing sympathy towards those affected by Israel's internal problems. Somehow I can't manage to care much about housing problems and orthodox-vs-secularist tensions when the occupation of the Palestinian territories goes on.
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Old 12-28-2011, 07:26 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AchtungBono View Post
Bottom line - again, the key word is RESPECT.
What if it was a society where Jews and Christians weren't considered equal? You had to wear different clothes to show that you were a Jew and ride on the back of the bus, man or woman. Would this inequality be respected by you?
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Old 12-28-2011, 02:34 PM   #8
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It's really ludicrous how restrictive religion tends to be towards women sometimes. Sorry, but I have to agree with BVS and Vincent and such-I couldn't stand living in a place that told me how I could and couldn't behave, dress, where to go, when to speak, all that sort of thing. It'd drive me nuts.

Respect must be earned, not automatically given. If there's no justifiable reason given as to why one should or shouldn't do something, it's hard for me to agree to or respect that idea/rule.
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Old 12-28-2011, 02:40 PM   #9
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Yeeeeeeaah, I don't think I'd move to the back of the bus for anybody...

They can just catch the next bus if they don't want to sit next to me. I don't have cooties.

You talk about having respect for them, but what sort of respect are they showing you? Would they make you move if you had a broken leg? Religion and orthodoxy is fine, as long as it doesn't infringe on the rights of others. Again, it's your prerogative to cater to their specific needs and desires, but you're not helping the problem.

When I visit my sort-of-orthodox Jewish family on a Saturday, I don't go around turning on their light switches, but they don't tell me I can't. I hope you can see the difference.
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Old 12-28-2011, 02:47 PM   #10
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I have zero respect for clowns who treat women like that. Religion and tradition are the lamest, laziest excuses for conducting yourself that way. Take your head out of your ass and think for yourself instead of taking your queue from ignoramuses that existed thousands of years ago and had less knowledge about the world than your average 10 year old does these days
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Old 12-28-2011, 03:40 PM   #11
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bit harsh, innit?

queue =/= cue
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Old 12-28-2011, 03:54 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiger Edge View Post

queue =/= cue
........fuck

I blame the residual eggnog still in my brain
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Old 12-28-2011, 04:04 PM   #13
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I blame your allegiance to the Queen. Everyone in England is a master-queuer.
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Old 12-28-2011, 04:09 PM   #14
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When I help out at the law office where my sister works, there's a lawyer there who is an Orthodox Jew. He refuses to shake hands or have any kind of physical contact with a woman. He told me he doesn't mean to offend, but I feel offended. What, a simple handshake would defile him? A woman is something dirty? If our hands slightly brushed, he would think about sex? Oh the horror!
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Old 12-28-2011, 04:10 PM   #15
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When I help out at the law office where my sister works, there's a lawyer there who is an Orthodox Jew. He refuses to shake hands or have any kind of physical contact with a woman. He told me he doesn't mean to offend, but I feel offended. What, a simple handshake would defile him? A woman is something dirty? If our hands slightly brushed, he would think about sex? Oh the horror!
swap woman for black person. How do you think that would go over?
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