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.