Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Shoshana Parks

A lot has been made in the US about Tanya Rosenblitt, a young Israeli who refused to sit in the back of a public bus as demanded by some Ultraorthodox men. It is a harpe un a shande, a disgrace, that the bus driver took their side and a police officer tried to placate them by attempting to convince her to comply, instead of reading them the riot act. But she stood her ground.
This is not only about women's rights, this is about the very essence of the State of Israel. Is it going to be a modern democracy with equal rights and civil laws, or a theocracy ruled by maniacs? Rosenblitt has been labeled the Israeli Rosa Parks and her sensible defiance has sparked other secular Israelis to demand a stop to the Orthodox lunacy. I don't know what has taken Israeli secular society (the majority, still) so long to fight the encroachment of insane religious dogma into daily life. The problem with religious fanatics is that they don't listen to reason. So as far as I'm concerned, they need to start listening to the law of the land, and that law has to be secular.
If they want segregated buses, they should own them privately and behave like Stone Age troglodytes all they want on their own buses and their own dime. They cannot expect to behave like that on state buses. They cannot coerce others to behave like them. They cannot continue holding Israeli society hostage with their unreasonable demands. Israel is a modern society which should be governed by secular laws. It's about time that Israel institutes civil marriage and divorce. As long as this doesn't happen, it will be still mired in the Middle Ages, all its modern achievements notwithstanding.
As for those who worry that if Israel secularizes all its laws it will cease being a Jewish state, I guess they prefer Israel to be a Stone Age theocracy rather than a modern democracy with secular laws for all. Let the religious nutcases run rampant and soon there may be no Jewish state either.
Unfortunately, Orthodox Jews do not use family planning, so they may end up calling the shots. But as long as they are not a majority, they need to respect democratic rule. Enough with their special treatment, which is an insult to those Israelis who do pay taxes, serve in the Army and contribute to the progress of the country. Enough with their parasitical abuse of the state and their contempt for their fellow citizens. I'm happy to see Tanya's stance galvanized others into a movement to ensure that Israel is defined as a modern state with equal rights and responsibilities for all its citizens.

On Christmas Day, as we waited to go to a movie in Union Square, everything was closed, but music was coming out of speakers. Turns out young Hassids were celebrating Hannukah. They were dancing to some modern sounding music in Hebrew, in what seemed to me a bit of enforced merriment. Six measly young males pretending to have more fun than what they could possibly be having. I think there was a little cluster of orthodox women standing around watching them. Because God forbid men and women should sing and dance together. This ridiculous, offensive, abusive form of segregation by the Orthodox is called, in a fit of Orwellian euphemism, tzniut; modesty. But this is not about modesty, this is about the control of women. Why do women have to be modest and not men? What does that say about women: that if they don't dress like circus tents they are what? Immodest, whores, the devil? Why do women put up with this contemptuous crap?


  1. Tova_in_Toronto3:23 PM

    Dear Enchilda, I agree 100% with you. Well, in the interests of accuracy I'd call courageous Tanya "Vered", because a vered is a rose more than a shoshanah, which is a lilly. But that aside, the reason the sane and secular majority have not raised heck before is because of their acceptance of the electoral system in Israel, which is based on proportional representation, encouraging many parties and thereby the religious parties often are the kingmakers. The national shame is that a yeshiva bocher who sits and twirls his payes for 12 hours a day gets more money from the government than a soldier in Tsahal. That is something which has to end as do all the other perqs the religious get. Israel will not be the same country it is in 10 or 15 years' time, and I only hope it will be a liberal secular democracy and not some fascistic theocracy, run by Charedi "Talibans".

  2. Hi Tova! When I lived there in the 80's I often wondered what were the secular Israelis waiting for to stop this religious nonsense, for the moshiach to arrive? It took Vered, as you rightly point out, to wake them up. Thanks for reading!