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Oct 27 2011

How dare you enforce the law

Stewart sent more links today. I’m still catching up. So…where were we? Oh yes -

Womens’ rights groups and organizations opposing religious coercion have demonstrated against the segregation. Jerusalem councilwomen Rachel Azaria of the Yerushalmim (Jerusalemites) faction and Laura Verton (Meretz) petitioned the High Court of Justice against the practice.

Well guess what. Guess what happened to Jerusalem councilwomen Rachel Azaria. She got an award from the Secular Lawyers’ Guild? No. She got fired. That’s right: fired.

Mayor Nir Barkat has dismissed Rachel Azaria from Jerusalem’s coalition government, but the city denies he did so because Azaria is against gender segregation in the ultra-Orthodox Mea She’arim quarter. It says loyalty to city council policy is the issue.

Members of the Haredi community were delighted by Azaria’s dismissal. A headline on a popular ultra-Orthodox website, B’hedri Haredim, declared: “A joyous holiday in Jerusalem: Barkat fires the provocateur.”

The Jewish Daily Forward blog The Sisterhood comments.

Jerusalem City Council Member Rachel  Azaria quickly paid a high price for standing up for what she believes in.  On October 17, Jerusalem Mayor  Nir Barkat stripped her of her portfolios on the city council that concern  community councils and early childhood issues. She was being punished for petitioning  Israel’s High Court of Justice to enforce a previous ruling that ordered  police to prevent gender segregation on the streets of the Haredi Jerusalem  neighborhood Mea Shearim.

In an exclusive telephone interview with The Sisterhood later the day she  lost her portfolios, she said that less than 24 hours after the Court  issued its ruling in her favor, she received an email from one of Barkat’s  assistants on behalf of the mayor stating that “because you went to the High  Court of Justice, I am relieving you of your duties.” Barkat did not personally  contact Azaria to inform her of this. But his office sent out another email  announcing the change minutes later to all 31 members of City Council.

She was fired for enforcing a legal ruling. So adhering to the law is a firing offence in the Jerusalem city government?

Azaria said she was buoyed by how seriously the judges of the Court,  especially its president, Dorit  Beinish, regarded her petition. “There was a very ideological discussion in  the Court. Beinish herself said how important it was to have this discussion.  She brought in Jerusalem’s chief of police, and really tried to find solutions  that would be implementable,” Azaria said.

“The Haredim know that it’s illegal. Really it’s just a small segment of that  community that thinks that they can just keep doing what they want and that the secular and more liberal religious people will just get tired and give up,” the  religiously observant Azaria said. “But I won’t give up on such an important  issue.”

Theocrats are busy everywhere you look, thinking they can just keep doing what they want and the rest of us will just get bored and give up. This is why the world needs gnu atheists. Gnu atheists don’t get bored and give up. We refuse. We just get more pissed off and stubborn.

The Sisterhood says women are disappearing from public life in Jerusalem.

Haaretz reported  recently that there is a glaring lack of women on billboards and in local  Jerusalem newspaper and magazine ads.

“Believe me, this is real,” said Ayalon. “I am out there every day counting  the dwindling number of women seen in advertisements.” He is not talking about “women in bikinis on cars,” which Ayalon stresses that he and Yerushalmim are,  like the Haredim, opposed to. Rather, he is talking about the complete absence  of respectably dressed women in ads in which they used to appear in Jerusalem — and still do in other parts of the country. Suddenly there are a whole lot of  images of men selling food, furniture, and other home-related products. Men’s being more focused on domesticity can, of course, be a good thing — but not at  the expense of women’s civil rights.

That sounds like Hollywood movies, which almost all star three or four men these days, as if only men existed. I guess we need gnu feminists, too.

 

9 comments

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  1. 1
    David Leech

    I thought Israel was a secular state, this is disgusting.

  2. 2
    Stewart

    Here are two links to the backlash against the firing:

    http://www.jta.org/news/article/2011/10/26/3089985/activists-work-to-reinstate-jerusalem-city-council-member

    http://www.jpost.com/NationalNews/Article.aspx?id=243190

    Also, here is my translation of her Facebook message (from October 17) mentioned in one of the links (interesting to note that the FB friend we have in common is a former work colleague who is an Orthodox woman):

    The mayor’s reaction to my achievement in my application to the Supreme Court against the separation of men and women in the public square: Nir Barkat has stood up against the Supreme Court and on the side of the extreme wing of the Haredi public and has deprived me of the portfolio for Infants and Community Administrations. I commit to continuing to work for you from inside the municipality and outside it and to lead to additional achievements for young families and for a pluralistic Jerusalem. Because Jerusalemites don’t give in! Chag Sameach [Happy Holiday]!

  3. 3
    Interrobang

    I might be in Jerusalem in the next while (having just gotten a job in Canada where my direct supervisor is in J’lem, doncha love transnationals?), which will force me to be female in public. This unfortunately conflicts emotionally with my desire for Jerusalem to kind of get turned into the Religioid Free State of the world and left to its own devices. The Haredim, the Maronites, the Eastern Orthodox, the Catholics, and the Muslims can all kill each other off over Jerusalem, as far as I care.

  4. 4
    Dunc

    The Haredim, the Maronites, the Eastern Orthodox, the Catholics, and the Muslims can all kill each other off over Jerusalem, as far as I care.

    A lot of innocent people would get caught in the crossfire.

  5. 5
    Marc Alan Di Martino

    “This is why the world needs gnu atheists” – exactly!

  6. 6
    Ophelia Benson

    Many thanks, Stewart – for alerting us to all this, for the new links, for the translation, for all of it.

  7. 7
    Raging Bee

    Why the Hell are we still giving so much foreign aid to this lunatic regime? Whatever pretense Israel once had of being better then their neighbors is vanishing steadily, if it’s not already gone. The US-Israel alliance is now an alliance between the Christian and Jewish loony religious right. And as the rhetoric of Israel’s most ardent supporters shows, we’re their common enemy.

  8. 8
    besomyka

    Gnu Feminists? Count me in. We need to be vocal in shouting down the opposition and highlight just how ignorant they are. People should be ashamed to not only to voice such opinions, but to even think them.

    If segregating a public street even occurs as a serious consideration to you, there is something wrong in your head and you are seriously mistaken about some aspect of reality. Keep your delusions to yourself. It’s embarrassing.

  9. 9
    SLC

    Re Raging Bee @ #7

    Mention of Israel, like mention of libertarians is a dog whistle to Mr. Bee. He just can’t resist the urge to say something negative about that country. Just for his information, Jerusalem is somewhat unique among Israeli cities, having a disproportionate number of Haredim amongst it’s population. Judging the State of Israel on the basis of what happens in Jerusalem is like judging the US on the basis of what happens in Mississippi.

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