Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Orthodox Jewish millionaires consider segregated bus scheme
A private bus line in Israel that would enforce segregation between male and female passengers is being considered by a group of ultra-Orthodox Jewish millionaires., according to reports.
Under the proposed scheme, the buses would transport passengers from Haredi – or ultra-Orthodox – neighbourhoods in Jerusalem, Ashdod and Beit Shemesh, the Yediot Aharonot newspaper reported.
Israel's transport ministry is yet to respond to the suggestions. Under the current scheme, segregation is voluntary. Israeli law says that any provider of a public service must treat everybody equally.
Israel's Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger told the newspaper: "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."
The proposals come after Tanya Rosenblit, a 28-year-old Jewish woman, boarded a bus in Ashdod last week, and was told by a Haredi male to sit at the back. When she refused, the man did not allow the driver to close the doors and the police were eventually called. She has been compared to the American civil rights campaigner Rosa Parks.
Writing on the Israeli news website 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."